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Why have Western governments failed to promote democracy in Africa?

In the frame of the lecture series “Freiburger Symposium zu Entwicklungsfragen”, Professor Nic Cheeseman from Oxford University  gave a talk on the failure of Western governments to promote democracy in Africa.
Despite a vast investment in terms of financial and human resources – including $1 Bil-lion in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone –, Western governments have failed to improve the quality of democracy in most African states. After the initial reintroduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s, little progress has been made towards more open and stable government in countries such as the Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, and Uganda. As a result, African states comprised 9 of the 20 least democratic states in the world in 2015, as evaluated by the Economist Intelligence Unit. This lecture attempts to answer three questions that are critical to understanding this failure. First, why have Western governments become so engaged in democracy promotion in Africa? Second, are African states particularly immune to international democracy promotion efforts, and if so why? Third, under what conditions has democracy promotion been more successful, and what are the prospects for the future?
Nic Cheeseman is Associate Professor of African Politics at Oxford University, the co-editor of African Affairs and the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics (Oxford University Press).


The Symposium was organised by ABI in cooperation with the Colloquium Politicum of the University of Freiburg and the Stiftung Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (SEZ).