Democracy in African governance: seeing and doing it differently

Göran Hydén, Marina Buch Kristensen

The Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA) report Democracy in African Governance: Seeing and Doing it Differently examines democratic development in African countries and how democracy aid can be improved. The author discusses approaches donor countries can take at a time when partners are claiming greater ownership of aid.

The report addresses three central questions:
• Why does democracy aid need to be re-examined at this point?
• What is it in the African context that makes such aid so challenging?
• What can be done to make it more relevant and effective?

The author of the report focuses on four countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. He analyses the differences between the countries in governance and democratic development and what shapes them, and how they affect the design and practices of aid.

The report includes the following conclusions:
• Governance varies between countries in Africa. Democracy in Africa cannot be analysed without being placed in a broader context that takes this into account.
• The local culture and history affect the different types of regimes. Clientelist forms of governance with competition for power have proven to be the most successful in providing civil liberties and political rights.
• By taking local context and ownership into consideration, it should be possible to change democracy aid in several important respects, such as the role of the donor, aid management and the time horizon of support.