More than half of Africans say their governments are failing them when it comes to one of their top priorities – the provision of clean water and sanitation services, a new Afrobarometer analysis shows. Half of survey respondents say they went without enough clean water for home use during the previous year – a particular concern considering the importance of proper hygiene for preventing the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.
A decade-long civil war (1991-2002) and a 2014 Ebola outbreak left Sierra Leone’s health- care system in a poor state, including inadequate infrastructure and staff (Ministry of Health and Sanitation, 2017). With 1,165 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 2017, Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal and infant mortality (United Nations Population Fund, 2017).
Sierra Leone dropped by 18 places on the Global Peace Index between 2018 and 2019, ranking now at No. 52 out of 163 countries, and is listed among the five sub-Saharan countries recording the worst deterioration due to political and economic instability (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2019; Sesay, 2020).
After an unstable political history of autocratic rule, coups and counter-coups, and a destructive decade-long civil war, Sierra Leoneans want to live in a democracy with elections and multiparty competition, according to findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey.
They are divided, however, on the question of whether people holding dual citizenship should be allowed to participate by voting, and a majority would deny them the right to stand for office.
Last May, Malawians went to the polls for their sixth national election since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1994. The outcome was the most disputed election result in their history, marked by legal challenges, six months of court hearings covered live on leading radio stations, and an unprecedented series of public demonstrations led by the civil-society Human Rights Defenders Coalition demanding the resignation of commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) (Sabola, 2019; Nyondo, 2019; Chiuta, 2019).
In December 2017, the National Assembly of the Gambia established a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to draft the country’s third Constitution (Freedom Newspaper, 2018).
Botswana is the oldest multiparty democracy in sub-Saharan Africa, boasting 11 successful national elections since independence in 1966. The country’s Constitution provides for a parliamentary system with two chambers: Parliament, which makes laws, and the House of Chiefs (Ntlo ya Dikgosi), which serves in an advisory capacity on matters of tradition and customs. Except for a few sub-districts where chiefs are elected, chieftainship is a hereditary institution based on tribal lineage.
Tunisia has been a model of successful democratic transition in the Arab world since its revolution in 2011 (Caryl, 2019). While Libya, Yemen, and Syria have descended into civil war, Egypt and Bahrain into repression and authoritarianism, Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country where democracy has survived (Chulov, 2018).
Accountability forms a central pillar of democratic governance. While free and fair elections help promote government of, by, and for the people, what happens between election days can be equally important. Respect for the rule of law and other government branches are as essential in the day-to-day business of governing as they are for ensuring high-quality elections.
Given its undisputed importance for almost any aspect of development – from health and educational achievement to economic growth and poverty reduction – access to electricity may have earned the status of a basic human right (Hughes, 2018). At a minimum, it is widely acknowledged as a prerequisite for progress on most of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where it is highlighted as SDG7, “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” (United Nations Development Programme, 2019; Stern, 2016; Lloyd, 2017).
Fighting corruption was one of the main campaign planks of Ghana’s current government. During his inauguration speech in 2017, President Nana Akufo-Addo cited the war on graft as his top priority, pledging to protect the public purse and rejecting the idea that the public service is an avenue for making money (BBC, 2017; Forson, 2017).
Ghana has made giant economic strides over the past decade. In 2011 the country climbed from lower-income to middle-income status, and both per-capita income and gross domestic product roughly doubled between 2008 and 2018 (World Bank, 2019a, 2019b).
Ghana’s banking sector is the second-largest in the West African Monetary Zone (Frankfurt School, 2015) and recorded a 33.9% increase in total assets between June 2016 (GHS 66.29 billion) and June 2018 (GHS 100.35 billion) (Bank of Ghana, 20188. But during the past two years, the country’s financial industry has seen a massive shake-up, resulting in the revocation of licenses of nine universal banks, 347 microfinance companies, 39 microcredit companies/money lenders, 15 savings and loan companies, eight finance house companies, and two non-bank financial institutions (Ghanaweb, 2019a).
Tax revenues play an essential role in financing government expenditures, which can benefit citizens through effective public services, infrastructure, and development (Bird, 2010). This requires that citizens pay their taxes and that the government administer taxes effectively and efficiently – requirements that represent significant challenges in many countries (Saad, 2014).
For the sixth time since independence, Namibians are going to the polls to choose a president and members of the National Assembly – in free and fair elections whose outcome has never varied.
Although Namibia uses a closed party-list system with “largest remainders” provisions that optimize parliamentary inclusion even for very small parties, the ruling SWAPO Party has managed to increase its share of votes and parliamentary seats consistently since the founding elections of 1989.
In Guinea, elections have rarely been routine. Delays, disputes, and violence have marked many elections as scores of political parties slug it out and security forces confront protesters in the street.
During the first weekend of October, the Mauritian prime minister dissolved Parliament and called a general election for November 7 – a surprise announcement that left both the electoral commission and political parties scrambling (Weekly, 2019).
« Assurer l’accès de tous à une éducation de qualité, sur un pied d’égalité » fait partie du quatrième Objectif de Développement Durable et demeure l’un des besoins fondamentaux de la jeunesse. Pour promouvoir une meilleure éducation, le Togo pour sa part, a élaboré des stratégies gouvernementales définies dans le Plan Sectoriel de l’Education (2014-2025) (Partenariat Mondiale pour l’Education, 2019).
Since May, for the first time in its history, half of South Africa’s Cabinet ministers are women (World Economic Forum, 2019). And assessing women’s economic participation, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment, the Global Gender Gap Index ranks South Africa 19th out of 149 countries (World Economic Forum, 2018).
In search of economic growth, employment, and tax revenue, some governments have looked to one of the world’s oldest and most lucrative – but often illegal – cash crops: cannabis (Gardner, 2019; Meyer, 2019). Known to most people for its recreational use as marijuana, cannabis also has non-intoxicating forms (known as hemp) that are fast-growing and water-wise and can be used to make fabrics, ropes, papers, and oils, among other uses.
Efficient and effective public service delivery is a necessity for citizens’ well-being (Armah- Attoh, 2015). However, in Africa, access to quality public services remains a challenge. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation )2018), “the average African public service displays a lack of capacity, … with higher costs than in other regions and large country disparities.” In the Gambia, prominent human-rights activist Madi Jobarteh (2017) has criticized public service delivery as “incredibly inefficient.”
Benin has long been seen as a stable democracy, consistently rated as free by Freedom House and achieving several peaceful electoral transfers of power since democratization in the 1990s (Paduano, 2019). However, Benin’s recent legislative elections have called this image into question. New eligibility requirements left only two political parties on the ballot, both allied with President Patrice Talon. The government violently suppressed large protests and restricted Internet access, and widespread boycotts led to the lowest voter turnout on record (Paduano, 2019; BBC News, 2019).