Essay Example: Democracy and Roles of Regional Organizations in Africa

Published: 2022-04-08
Essay Example: Democracy and Roles of Regional Organizations in Africa
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Political science Democracy
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1276 words
11 min read

Roles of Regional Organizations in Africa

The main reasons for the perennial underdevelopment witnessed in Africa are political repression and instability. African regional organizations have the ability and responsibility to foster stability, democracy, and the development within the areas of jurisdiction if equipped with the right tools. Examples of successful interventions of such organizations include the entry of SADC in the Democratic Republic of Congo and ECOWAS in Liberia during and after the civil war. In the mentioned countries, the regional organizations were able to spur economic growth and stability through the promotion of democratic ideals. In order to bring forth the expected changes, which is stability, development and democratic improvements, the organizations ought to have clear mandates, strong institutions, visionary leadership, and policy agreement.

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The first role of the regional organizations is to foster peace and freedom. For example, in the case of Liberia civil conflict raged for years. The international community turned its back as the country burned and the vulnerable fraction of the society bore the brunt of war. The years of repression, tyranny, and autocracy led to a bloody civil war in the country. The only option left was for the regional organization to intervene. The Economic Community of West Africa led the military intervention with the focus being to restore peace and stability in the war ravaged Liberia (Ndlovu- Parker, 2013). The military intervention served to defeat the rebels that found safe haven in the country supported by the proceeds from the infamous blood diamond.

Secondly, the organizations serve to improve democracy or to expedite the democratic processes in regions formerly ravaged by war. After a civil war, the objective shifts to finding of permanent solution that only comes from proper governance supported by formidable institutions. After the dethroning of Idi Amin Dada in Uganda and the ousting of Charles Taylor in Liberia the East African Community and ECOWAS respectively worked to restore sanity and the democratic process through the provision of military support to the popular, but weak governments that served to ensure stability of the countries, and the regions by extension (Mutisi, 2012).

The other role is to promote trade and economic development of the member states. Most have African countries currently enjoy relative growth and stability due to the regional cooperation, trade, and the creation of trading blocks. In this regard, the organizations normally come up with strategies that promote trade among the member states. The first and the most common strategy is the removal to the reduction of tariffs and taxation for member states. The members at times do not pay taxes when passing the borders or accessing the markets of a member country. Additionally, the organizations establish free markets for the member states, which is the case in the East African region (Adar, 2014). Finally, through bilateral trade agreements the organizations seek to create common bargaining agreements for their products in the international market leading to higher profitability.

The Challenges Faced by the Regional Organization

The first challenge is the financial constraint. Africa is the poorest continent in the globe, and naturally, the financial constraint remains a serious challenge for most of its activities. Military intervention, improving the terms and conditions of transacting business, and the establishing of proper governance structures require capital investment. The lack of funding hinders the organizations from performing their duties. Secondly, certain regions such East and central Africa have not undergone complete integration. Case in point is the fact that the East African community refused to admit South Sudan into the community of nations due to the effects of the civil war that the country. It means that integration is mostly in theory rather than practice. Thirdly, political interference is a major challenge since a bigger fraction of the continent practices a brand of democracy reminiscent of autocracy and the heads of states have a lot of power. They often interfere with the operations of the organizations.

Arms infiltration is major challenge that hinders the military intervention of the regional organizations (Ake, 2013). For example, Libya recently relapsed into a failed state due to the arms being in the wrong hands, rebels. The problem is also existent in south Sudan and Somalia. Finally, the interference of the international community and the overlapping mandates of various organizations front profound challenges. The United Nations intervenes in almost every country in Africa for example in Sudan and the DRC. The objectives and the mandates of the UN and those of the regional organizations often overlap making it hard for the organizations to operate with the necessary freedom.

Response to Question Two

The Democratization Process and Prospects of Democracy in Kenya

The democratization process in Kenya has been quite progressive and promising. When the country attained her independence in 1963, it immediately became a one party state with the kind of government being autocratic. However, in the late 1980s and the early 1990s the fight or the advocacy for democracy peaked. Many activists were arbitrarily arrested and detained by the government that was hell-bent on retaining the status quo. After additional pressure from the international community, the then government allowed the repeals of section 2A of the constitution that ushered in the multiparty era. The era of the multiparty democracy brought forth allegations of election rigging and voter manipulation from certain factions of the political divide, especially the opposition. The allegations of rigging brought forth minor tribal clashes that finally led to the infamous post election violence of 2007, which led to the death of thousands of people. The aftermath led to the formation of the Kriegler Commission that proposed changes in the constitution framework and the creation of the grand coalition government that drew its membership from both the government and the opposition (Wainaina et al, 2011). The country passed a progressive constitution in 2010 that led to the independence of various institutions including the judiciary. Despite all the impressive theoretical gains, the country still experienced some pockets of violence in the 2013and the 2017 elections.

The Challenges

Evidently, the changes made are largely positive and portend greater probability of democratic space and economic stability. The separation of power is good for the country particularly in solving disputes and preventing the repeat of the post election violence of 2007 (Cheeseman et al., 2014). However, electoral justice remains a major challenge for the country, where the president seemingly has control over major institutions including the electoral commission. The president with the approval of parliament appoints the five commissioners that head the electoral body. Additionally, the judiciary is not as independent as envisioned in the constitution, as the executive and the legislature often collude to fix judges that go against the ruling regime. Ethnicity is a major challenge to the Kenyan electorate since most people vote based on tribal affiliations and not ideal and principles, meaning that the larger tribes occupy most of the leadership positions.


Adar, K., G. (2014) "East African Community" in, Levio L, Finizio G and Vallinoto N (eds.), The democratization of international institutions, First International Democracy Report, New York, Routledge.

Ake, Claude (2000). The Feasibility of Democracy in Africa, Dakar, CODESRIA

Cheeseman, N., Lynch, G., & Willis, J. (2014). Democracy and its discontents: understanding Kenya's 2013 elections. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 8(1), 2-24.

John and Reid, Richard (eds.) (2013). The Oxford Handbook of Modern African History, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Mutisi, M. (2012). Interrogating traditional youth theory: Youth peace building and engagement in post-conflict Liberia. AFRICA DIALOGUE, 87.

Ndlovu- Parker, Gatsheni, Sabelo J., (2013). Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa Myths of Decolonization, Dakar, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Wainaina, P. K., Arnot, M., & Chege, F. (2011). Developing ethical and democratic citizens in a post-colonial context: Citizenship education in Kenya. Educational Research, 53(2), 179-192.

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