NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Democracy Advancing in Africa

June 3, 2002

It has been well established that democracy and capitalism go hand in hand, since freedom in the political realm entails economic freedom. And democracy is creeping across Africa -- a continent better known for decades of wars, corruption and depression.

  • Since 1990, 42 of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have held multi-party elections, according to the World Bank.
  • Over the past two years, governing parties in four nations -- Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Mali -- have peacefully handed over power to opposition political parties.
  • In a plan called the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the presidents of South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal and Algeria have promised to create a peer review system to ensure African compliance with democratic principles.
  • To be sure, there are still enclaves of vote-rigging and political corruption.

But the development of flawed democracies is nevertheless considered progress to people still carrying the scars left by authoritarian regimes. Under former military administrations, soldiers would come and arrest citizens and force them to work for the army or on their farms. Now, in countries where democracy is taking root, villagers meet with their mayor, new wells are dug and schools and clinics are being established -- paid for by moneys that are no longer being siphoned off by corrupt officials.

Source: Rachael L. Swarns and Norimitsu Onishi, "Africa Creeps Along Path to Democracy," New York Times, June 2, 2002.


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