January 30, 2022 coincided with the 15th anniversary of the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance (ACDEG). But what is the ACDEG really about? On Africa Day, May 25, 2021, a Twitter poll was launched to measure users’ perception of this instrument for the promotion of democratic principles in the continent. However, 89% of respondents answered negatively. Even if our sample is not exhaustive, it is clear that there is a real need to make this charter known to African citizens.
The ACDEG is a strong instrument of the African Union (AU) to encourage, monitor and promote democracy in Africa. The AU's policy and institutional framework for strengthening democracy and good governance has grown significantly from February 2007 to February 2012, when the Charter was adopted and came into force, with only seven unconstitutional changes of power. However, the curve of military coups has skyrocketed in recent years with more than 18 across the continent between March 2012 and January 2022.
Six coups d'état were committed in the space of 17 months: two (2) in Mali, in August 2020 and May 2021, one (1) in Chad, in May 2021, one (1) in Guinea, in September 2021, one (1) in Sudan, and the last one to date took place in Burkina Faso on January 24, 2022 Tampering with constitutions, most often condemned by regional, continental or international organisations, or lengthy presidential terms are also sources of instability and security threats in our countries. Worse, some heads of State play on community and regional rifts to remain in power.
Seven of the ten longest-serving presidents on the planet are African. These include Cameroon's Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982 and will celebrate his 40th anniversary as president on February 13, and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea since 1979.
In the face of all these problems that taint democracy and good governance in Africa, raising people's awareness becomes an alternative. This approach consists in supporting the advocacy for the implementation of the ACDEG in the twenty-one (21) Member States of the Union which have not yet ratified the charter.
Thus, to stimulate citizen engagement on democracy, elections and governance, the Charter Project Africa (CPA) consortium was created, regrouping AfricTivistes, European Partnership For Democracy, European Centre For Development and Policy Management, Democracy Works Foundation, Code for Africa and Gorée Institute. This coalition aims to support African civil society engagement with the African Governance Architecture (AGA) based on the commitments contained in the ACDEG:
- Respect for human rights and democratic principles;
- Access to power and its exercise, in accordance with the Constitution of the State Party and the principle of the rule of law;
- The promotion of a representative system of government;
- The regular holding of transparent, free and fair elections…
The originality of this project lies in the fact that it encourages the use of civic tech to amplify the voice of citizens, providing financial resources through grants as well as technical resources to civic initiatives in Africa through a "Civic Tech Fund", which focuses on actions by or about youth.
This grant fund responds to the need to advance meaningful citizen participation in governance spaces through the innovative use of data and digital technologies to address the challenges of democratic governance.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will also be developed to provide educational and didactic content on the topic of elections, democracy and governance in Africa.
More specifically, the MOOC "Democracy and Governance in Africa" aims to overcome the lack of information, the difficulties of access to institutional content and the orientation of the media treatment angle. Therefore, it targets civil society actors, media actors and professionals, members of non-governmental institutions, members of central and local governments as well as youth from social movements.
Learn more about the Technology Initiative Grant Fund of the Charter Project Africa to enhance advocacy here: https://civictechfund.africa/en/