Africa’s Governance Travails After More Than Two Decades of Democratic Experiments

Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 71)


The democratic transitions of the Third Wave across Sub-Saharan Africa degenerated into a ‘crisis of governance’, eroding the views of a political imagination where a new social contract could be realized. This paper seeks to answer the following question: What conditions and ideas have led to Sub-Saharan Africa’s failure to deliver on a new social contract for its citizens? The Arab Uprisings resuscitated debates on democracy and development juxtaposed with the trajectory of Sub-Saharan Africa’s democratic governance trajectory. The uprisings demystified the truism that democracy is incongruent with ‘monolithic’ Islamic values. Despite the political instability that the movement has brought to the region, it reflected a fundamental shift in thinking as citizens of these countries took ownership of their political trajectories. By contrast, scholarly literature on Sub-Saharan Africa’s governance trajectory has been reductionist, caricaturing the continent as neopatrimonial. The chapter does not attempt to pathologize Sub-Saharan Africa’s democratic experiments; rather, it proposes a thesis that looks at history and analogy alongside colonial violence and suggests that most countries in the region are attempting development, democratization and nation-building using an outdated political structure. Novel discourses on democratization should be conceptualized in line with a New African Democracy and transformational political leadership committed to justice and a radical humanist democratic project that transcend the modalities of colonial and postcolonial states that are predicated on violence. The chapter will use quantitative data from the Mo Ibrahim Index which gathers governance indicators across the African continent.


Democratization Sub-Saharan Africa African social democracy Governance Arab Uprisings 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI), College of Graduate StudiesUniversity of South Africa (UNISA)PretoriaSouth Africa

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