Democracy in Africa: The Hard Road Ahead

By Marina Ottaway | Go to book overview

approaches to economic reform that encourage responsibility and accountability by African governments.

Fourth, foreign aid resources should be more focused on democratic states. The major donors have cut most aid resources to African autocrats, but aid is still spread too thinly in Africa. Progress in democracy should become a more important determinant of the allocation of aid resources. Many donor nations claim to be doing this, but they could still reduce aid programs in nondemocratic countries.

Finally, countries should not allow domestic popular sentiment against governments in Africa to prevent assistance programs from strengthening the capacity of African states. In the United States, enthusiasm for the private sector among conservatives and for NGOs among liberals threatens to undermine U.S. support for democratic governments in AfricaY. One of the best ways that the international community can help both the private sector and NGOs in Africa's new democracies is to improve the quality of governance in areas such as the legal system, the regulatory framework, and policy implementation. This involves helping Africa's new democracies to carry out the basic functions of government.

In sum, international efforts to promote democracy in Africa can matter in two ways. First, in the early stages of democratization, international efforts can help move recalcitrant autocrats and can facilitate processes of mutual accommodation among long-time political foes. In the longer run, international efforts need to be more subtle; they can serve as a catalyst for democratic consolidation but cannot drive these efforts. Although these efforts are less visible than confrontations over constitutional change and aid conditionality, they offer the key to addressing the deep structural constraints against which African democracy has to contend.


Note
1.
"Africa:"The Democratic Balance Sheet, testimony presented to the House Subcommittee on Africa of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hearings on "Africa:" Potential and Promises, September 27, 1994, Washington, D.C.

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