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Governance Fund hosts Virtual Democracy Forum on political transformation in Africa

More than 60 members of the Governance Fund network discussed political change in Africa at the virtual Democracy Forum on June 10. Among them: (former) German policy makers, representatives of civil society and representatives of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and GIZ. Kah Walla, Cameroonian governance expert and activist, and Matthias Basedau, Director of the GIGA Africa Institute, shared their insights.

Photo: Tolu Owoeye, shutterstock

“Every development measure must strengthen the functioning of the state - this is the only way we can break the crisis cycle in Africa!”

 Kah Walla opened the virtual democracy forum with these urgent words. "The fundamental development problem in Africa is political, the answer must be based on this."

Strategy for rebuilding African countries

In her presentation, Kah Walla outlined a comprehensive strategy that is necessary for a profound and effective reconstruction of African states: 

  • Dialogue and Healing: Addressing the colonial past and its ongoing impacts, fostering recovery and unity. 
  • Reconciliation: Bridging divides across ethnicity, religion, culture, and more to unify the continent. 
  • Defining State Forms: Crafting state structures that genuinely reflect and serve the population's diverse needs. 
  • Institution Building: Establishing robust pillars of justice and democracy that ensure fundamental rights, rule of law, and equal opportunities. 
  • Holding Elections at the right time: Ensuring that elections allow citizens to affirm these new structures through a transparent, inclusive process. 

Supporting the building of countries with development cooperation

Kah further emphasized that the functionality of a state must be the top priority in development cooperation - and that all actors should align their measures accordingly. This involves supporting the establishment of a state capable of

  • delivering essential services—such as water, healthcare, and education—across its entire national territory. 
  • Additionally, the state should ensure safety by upholding human rights, 
  • maintaining a functional justice system, and fostering civil society participation, trade unions and media. 
  • Lastly, sustainable economic growth should create decent employment opportunities for the majority, 
  • while providing space for art, culture and nature. 

Full presentation of Kah Walla as download


"Only Africans can make democracy work in Africa"

Matthias Basedau, Director of the GIGA Africa Institute, largely agreed with the analysis. For him too, the colonial legacy is - rightly - at the top of the agenda, even if not all problems can be traced back to colonialism. He reminded the audience that the vast majority of African citizens support democracy and reject authoritarian alternatives. For Matthias Basedau, respect is the key: "Only Africans can make democracy work in Africa." His most important recommendations for German development cooperation: "Don't support dictators, support democracy and democrats. Keep reviewing your development policy instruments in order to learn from positive examples." 

In his introductory remarks, Martin Hoppe, Head of the Governance Division at BMZ, had – one day after the European elections - emphasized the challenges of the current political developments in Europe: democracies are under threat, polarization is on the rise and development cooperation as a policy field is also under severe pressure. Mr. Hoppe emphasized that for BMZ and Minister Svenja Schulze, accepting our colonial past and de-colonizing all our thinking and acting is key. 

Following the presentations, participants had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. The Governance Fund is organizing follow-up discussions with the speakers and interested parties to discuss the topics in greater depth.

Kategorie :  Rechtstaatlichkeit     Politische Teilhabe   
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