The Reform of the African Union requires a paradigm shift from Member States

The AU of the Heads of States vs the AU of the People


Mandate to Reform the African Union

The 27th African Union Summit in Kigali closed with a commitment to fast track initiatives designed to make the African Union Commission (AUC) financially independent.

African Heads of State also tasked President Paul Kagame to lead a new effort to reform the AU Commission and the Union to make them more efficient.

Welcoming the task, President Kagame said: “I think this is a clear-cut task that has been handed to us and as foot soldiers of our continent we can’t run away from responsibilities, we will be able to do that within our abilities and based on consultations with the Heads of State and Government.” However, the task that President Kagame has committed to is all but an easy one.

Predecessor of the AU, the OAU was expected to serve as an instrument or mechanism for forging unity and solidarity among African states. It was also expected to advance cooperation among countries in order to enhance and promote economic development, improve the quality of life of all Africans, encourage and make possible the peaceful settlement of disputes whilst advancing democracy. Unable to overcome numerous challenges, the OAU, otherwise commonly nicknamed “The Club” was dissolved in 2002 and replaced by the African Union, with a charter supposed to address the weaknesses of the OAU, whilst carrying on its major goals. Mwangi S. Kimeny (2016) reported, “Unfortunately, the AU seems to have inherited the OAU’s approach to the performance of its functions as evidenced by the failure of the organization to effectively and timely spearhead the peaceful resolution of destructive conflicts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Mali”.[1]

For a number of years now, the AU has been subjected to wide criticism for its inertia, lack of inspiration, authority and weak leadership. The Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2015 and more recently the situation where, in several countries, outgoing Heads of States have manipulated national constitutions in order to extend their stay in power, causing political regression and throwing their countries into near chaos, came to comfort the public distrust towards the continental body’s ability to deliver on its mandates. To make the matter worse the AU has been debilitated by the deep financial crisis caused by the lack of financial contribution by Members States to an Organization surviving on the generosity of foreign Partners. This is compounded by an inadequate management and accountability of resources.

The call for a Reform

Reforming the AU had been an obvious conclusion that Member States had arrived at a decade ago. However, the task is all but a pleasure trip as successive Chairpersons found out. Former President Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali (2003 – 2008) attempting to assert himself in his role only managed to anger his previous fellows. Rumor even has it that he was called to order by his host reminding him that he was no longer a Head of State but an employee. Konare’s successor Jean Ping of Gabon (2008-2012) learning his lesson, did little on the Reform Agenda.

The results of a commissioned consultancy on the AUC reform remained locked in the drawers amidst rumors that drastic proposals would have risen the ire of Members States.

More recently, the current incumbent, South-African Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, elected on the expectation and the promises to deliver the long awaited reform of the Commission, has not been able to lead a similar process any far, as her initiative remained stalled by the AU oversight bodies.

Questions that President Kagame would no doubt have asked himself before committing his precious time to a Reform of the AU are the following: ……

–>> Click here to Read the full article written by Mr Bonaventure M Sodonon, International Management Consultant & Peace & Security Expert.


Opportunity: Apply to be an African Union Youth Volunteer in 2018!

Deadline for submission of applications: Monday, 31st July 2017 at Midnight GMT+3

Pour la version française, cliquez ici


The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC), established in 2010, is a continental development program that promotes youth volunteerism in Africa. The program aims to deepen the status of young people as key actors in Africa’s development targets and goals, enhancing their participation in policy development as well as design and implementation of relevant interventions towards the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, ‘The Africa we want’. It brings people together to share skills, knowledge, creativity and learning to build a more integrated, prosperous and
peaceful Continent driven by its citizens. The volunteering opportunities are intended to build professionalism and a sense of responsibility among the participants, thus enhancing their employability.

Young African professionals are recruited to serve for a period of 12 months as AU Volunteers in an AU Member State other than their own. The next intake of volunteers for deployment in 2018 will be from the 11th – 31st of July 2017.

Eligibility Criteria:
Applicants have to meet the following criteria:
1. Citizen of an AU Member State living on the continent or the Diaspora;
2. Aged between 18 – 35 years;
3. Have a post-secondary certified qualification(s) (TVET, Bachelor’s degree or
4. Available in 2018 to dedicate 12 (twelve) months for volunteer work;
5. Willing to live and work in another AU Member State;
6. Is proficient in at least one AU working language (Arabic, English, French,
7. Has at least one year verifiable volunteering experience and one year
professional work experience.

Application Process (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY):

Before clicking the apply now button below, please note the following

1. You will need to fill in a form on the next page. This form will help us assess your suitability for the program. Kindly respect the stated word limit. You are advised to type your answers in a Word Processor (such as Microsoft Word) before pasting in the relevant fields.
2. You will also need to add in a motivation letter with a maximum of 750 words. This should be added under the ‘Cover letter’ text box. Please ensure that your motivation letter answers the following:

  • Why you want to become an African Union Youth Volunteer?
  • Why you believe you are the best candidate to be an African Union Youth Volunteer?
  • What is your experience(s) (formal or informal) in youth civic engagement and participation, youth empowerment and/or promoting Pan-Africanism?
  • How has your previous experience(s) prepared you to work in diverse teams and cultures?
  • What change do you expect to see in yourself, the organization that you will be deployed in, and the community that you will be part of after your year of service?

3. Attach a copy of your CV
4. You will ALSO need to attach the following. Please merge these as one PDF document and attach that document. You might choose to use a service such as to do this.

  • A copy of the identity page in your passport or national identity card
  • Highest post-secondary certified qualification(s)
  • Signed Letter of Recommendation verifying your volunteer experience(s)

5. Deadline for submission of applications is Monday, 31st July 2017 at Midnight GMT+3

Please note:

  1. Incomplete and late applications will not be considered
  2. Only shortlisted candidates will be notified
  3. Candidates who had applied in previous years are and still meet the eligibility criteria are encourage to re-apply

Recruitment Process & Key Dates

  1. 1st August – eligibility Check;
  2. 14th August: Successful applicants will be notified;
  3. September 2017: Pre-deployment training;
  4. 2018: Deployment of trained volunteers.

Click here to read the full announcement

Apply Now:

Volunteer Entitlements:
For the successful candidates, the African Union Commission and its partners will
cover the full costs of their pre-deployment training.
On deployment, African Union Youth Volunteers receive the following:
1. Economy return air ticket from home town to place of deployment
2. A modest monthly stipend
3. Health insurance cover
4. Separation allowance upon successful completion of twelve months service

More Information:
For more information/queries, please contact Ms Prudence Ngwenya (Head of Human
Resources and Youth Development Division); or Mr Daniel Adugna (AU Youth
Program Officer) on
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Pour la version française, cliquez ici

AU-FLAGPursuant to the African Union Assembly Decision n°: Assembly/AU/Dec.277 (XVI) and EX.CL/Dec.539 (XVI) on the launching of African Women’s Decade (AWD) and the Fund for African Women, the AU is pleased to announce the call for the submission of project proposals under theme n°10 of the African Women Decade namely “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment” which content is as follows: “Energizing the African Women’s movement, and mentoring young women and men leaders and professionals, both in Africa and the Diaspora to be champions on Gender Equality and women’s empowerment”.

The implementation of the Decade themes is within the context of the integration of NEPAD into the African Union Structures and in line with Assembly Decision n° Assembly/AU/Dec.333 (XVI) to consolidate gains so far made and to achieve coherence. It also reaffirms African Women’s Decade to be the overall implementation framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (GEWE) and the Fund for African Women’s Decade to be the vehicle for mobilizing resources in line with the Executive Council Decision EX.CL.Dec.539(XVI)(4) and calls for Development Partners support.

By this call, the Commission hereby invites members States and stakeholders to submit their project proposals on the Theme: “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment”. This Theme n°10 of the African Women’s Decade is seriously taken into consideration by the African Union Commission and is scheduled to be discussed at the 2017 AU Summit under the theme’ “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth”.

Agenda 2063 has also given an important place to young women and men and according to its Aspiration 6, the Africa Union Commission aspires by 2063 to: “an Africa where development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African People, especially its women and youth…” This clearly shows the will and commitment of the African development actors to lay emphasis on Young women and men. This inclusive and people-centered approach can only be reached by empowering, mentoring and championing the young component of the African population. Agenda 2063 is Africa’s vision and roadmap for the fulfilment of Africa endogenous plan of transformation. Therefore, there is a need for African youth to be mentored accordingly.

The Fund will benefit young women and girls through grassroots initiatives, developed by:

  1. African Union member States;
  2. African Civil Society Organizations working on mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  3. Youth groups

Proposals will be funded for one year with a ceiling up to thirty thousand dollars ($30,000).

1-Criteria for the selection of project under the “mentoring youth (women and men) to be champions of gender equality and women’s empowerment” Theme:

The projects should be based on the African Union Agenda 2063. The Agenda works for a Shared Strategic Framework for Inclusive change for a better Sustainable Development, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The project or programme should contribute to any of the following:

  1. Create environment where the African and Diaspora young women’s movement will find a platform to interact and bring paramount and valuable changes to the women condition in Africa;
  2. Sensitize and train youth about the drawbacks and consequences of exclusion, on the fact that no woman or man will be left behind or excluded, on the basis of gender;
  3. Demonstrate its commitment as People-centred and training youth about gender equality and Women’s empowerment.
  4. Engage and empower youth to be gender-sensitive in their approach for decision making, while targeting sustainable development;
  5. Boost African women’s incentives to create movements and initiatives aiming at fully empowering young women in all spheres, and promoting their social, political and economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign contracts, register and manage businesses, and accessing leadership positions;
  6. Organize the mentorship and championship activities for young rural women and men and create movements or cooperatives that will raise awareness on their rights; and help them have access to productive assets, including land, credit, inputs and financial services.

2- In addition to the above mentioned criteria, the selected projects should:

a) Set key mentoring and championing priorities at continental level, to accelerate gender equality and women’s empowerment according to Agenda 2063 vision which expects full gender parity, with women occupying at least 50% of elected public offices at all levels and half of managerial positions in the public and the private sector;

b) Promote the adoption of policies that ensure that the youth of Africa is socially, economically and politically empowered with full implementation of the African Youth Charter and subsequent Decade Plan of Action;

c) Work for the elimination of all forms of systemic inequalities, exploitation, marginalization and discrimination of young people and mainstream youth issues in all development agendas;

d) Lobby for the elimination of Youth unemployment in Africa, while guaranteeing their full access to education, training, skills and technology, to health services, jobs and economic opportunities, recreational and cultural activities as well as financial means and all necessary resources to allow them to realize their full potential;

e) Train, monitor and champion Young African women and men to be the path breakers of the African knowledge society and contribute significantly to innovation and entrepreneurship;

f) Guide Africa’s youth and strengthen their knowledge into creativity, energy and innovation for them to become the driving force behind the continent’s political, social, cultural and economic transformation;

g) Be committed to sensitize and advocate to increase access to Sexual Reproductive Health Services and Rights (SRHR) for young people in Africa;

h) Capitalize on regional youth consultations for a better understanding and ownership of Agenda 2063; i) Promote Young People’s Rights, particularly young women’s rights Towards the Attainment of Agenda 2063’,

j) Create a platform for aggregating youth concerns such as migration, employment and mobility, inclusion, diversity management and popular participation;

k) Train Young people to be active actors in governance.

Mode of application

  1. Submission of a brief and schematic Concept Note in line with the application characteristics provided (attached). The Concept Note should be in summary form to facilitate technical evaluation and provisional approval or rejection by the Steering committee. It should not exceed one page;
  1. Submission of a more detailed, well formulated project proposal, in accordance with the format provided (attached), which meets key operational, technical and procedural requirements required for the final evaluation of the proposal.

The application should include the following information:

  1. A one page synthesis of the Concept Note (attached), as follows:
  • Basic data (project name, management details, duration, geographical location, context and rationale of the project);
  • Description of the project (purpose, goals and objectives, expected outcomes, activities, indicators, beneficiaries, entities and partners);
  • A brief presentation of the implementing agency: 1) governance structures, financial management, monitoring and evaluation, and sustainability plans;
  • Names and contact details (telephone numbers, email, etc.) of signatories.
  1. Detailed project proposal: Refer to attached outline
  1. A page containing:
  • The detailed budget in dollars (US$) and equipment (available and required). Distribution: 50% for equipment, and 50% for training and general expenses. The Fund for African Women does not cover salaries.
  • Bank details of the organization;

All applications should include a letter of recommendation from national Coordination Committees or Ministries responsible for Gender and women’s Affairs. NGO’s and CSO’s, should provide a copy of the Letter of Information sent to your Ministry of women Affairs. All hard copies of applications should be sent through the respective Embassies of Member States in Ethiopia, with electronic copies submitted directly to the Commission, addressed to the Director- Women, Gender and Development Directorate, AU commission Fund for African Women, by April 15, 2017.

Kindly note that the commission will only accept proposals that adhere to the indicated theme.

This announcement will be posted on the AUC website

The detailed format in which concept notes should be submitted is available on the website in English, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

Member States and grassroots organizations with the requisite capacity, experience in networking with women’s groups, community cooperatives, the informal sector, and addressing gender inequality are encouraged to apply.

For further information or clarifications, please contact Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director- Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD), Tel: +251 11 518 21 12 – email:; Mr. Adoumtar Noubatour, Senior Programme Officer, Tel: +251 11 518 21 11- email: ; Mrs Fiorella De Pede, email : Tel.: +251115182115.

CLICK HERE to get all necessary documents: African Union Website


The AU Youth Club Network: Register onto AUC Youth Division Database


The African Union Commission, through its Youth Division is intending to establish across the continent, the AU Youth Clubs. The AU Youth Club Network is meant to be a Platform that will initially be used to engage you and elicit your guidance as we rationalize the concept. It will then evolve into the AU Youth Club Network through which African Youth across the continent and in the Diaspora will connect, interact, and take shared ownership of their destiny towards achieving the realization of Agenda 2063, with the full support of the African Union.

If you have ever engaged (or not) with the AU, take a moment to register the AU Youth Division’s database. Your information will be used to build a database of potential AU Clubs and AU Club Members, to which all future correspondence on the AU Youth Club Network will be sent.



Call for youth participants to the intergenerational dialogue during the 26th AU Summit

Si vous préférez la version française, cliquez ici
The 26th AU Heads of States and Governments’ Summit will be held from the 21st to the 31st of January 2016, at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the Summit is: “2016 : African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”. Along the sidelines of the Summit, the African Union Commission is organizing an intergenerational dialogue between African Youth and leaders, particularly African Heads of States and Governments and Heads of continental and global Institutions.
The intergenerational dialogue will be held on the 30th January 2016 under t
he theme “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend in Africa towards the realization of Sustainable Development Goals and AU Agenda 2063”.
It shall be preceded by a youth consultative forum on the 29th January 2016 to concretize ideas to be discussed with the leaders. The dialogue aims at creating the space for conversations necessary to develop transformative strategies and perspectives on maximizing the development potentials of youth particularly young women. The event is expected to galvanize
these youth as they engage with the leaders. It will build upon deliberations
from the previous Intergenerational dialogue with the Pan African Parliament. Key recommendations were centered on implementation of existing policies and strategies that hinge on education, governance, peace and security, health and economic empowerment. The current intergenerational dialogue seeks to upscale discussions to the highest levels of governance in Africa. Consequently, African Union Commission
in collaboration with the Pan African Youth Union invites the brightest young minds from across Africa and the Diaspora to engage in the discussions and significantly contribute to matters of national, regional and continental policies that guarantee youth economic empowerment and
development. This is further informed by the fact that over the years, motivated young professionals from around Africa have proven that they can generate innovative solutions to help solve the continent’s complex challenges.
Towards this end young people from across Africa and the Diaspora who are well versed with the current issues of continental concern are requested to send their Expressions of Interest (submission) to be part of the 2016 intergenerational dialogue with leaders during the Summit. Interested youth are encouraged to find sponsors to pay for their transportation, accommodation and subsistence for the two days of the event. If attendance to the dialogue is not possible please send your submissions and recommendations to the email below and/or engage with us through twitter using the #AUIGD16 and our other social media platforms.
Please include in your submissions:
-Curriculum vitae/ Resume
-Copy of Your Passport
-Your country of origin and current place of residence
– The name of your organization or relevant affiliations
– Name of sponsoring organization (If self, please indicate)
– The description of the work or project you are undertaking relevant to the theme and the issues of concern (education, governance, peace and security, health and economic empowerment …). Include documentary
Send your submissions directly to: with the subject line: AU IGD 2016 by 12th January, 2016.
Notification to the successful applicants will be sent by 15th January 2016.


Note: Deadline for the receipt of proposal is Friday 21st August 2015.


As part of the activities of the 2015 (4th) High Level Dialogue (HLD) on Democracy, Elections and Governance which will be held in Kigali, Rwanda from 26-27 November 2015, the African Union Commission (AUC) will facilitate the inclusion of young people’s specificities and voices into the conversation through National Conversations. These Conversations will be held around the theme “Youth participation and leadership in political parties in Africa: Special focus on young women” for the Continental Youth Consultations due to take place in Kigali, Rwanda from 23-25 November, 2015. The theme of the Youth Consultation is linked to that of the 2015 Dialogue under the theme “Women’s Equal Participation and Leadership in Political Parties in Africa”.

The overall goal of the 2015 Youth Consultations is to provide a collaborative, open and inclusive space for young people involved in different spheres of political life across their respective regions to discuss the current state of youth political participation particularly young women and the prospects that they envision for strengthening the ways in which young people and young women particularly can lead and serve in political parties and governments.

In an effort to deliver on the above goal national conversations will specifically aim at:

  • Sharing evidence-based knowledge and analysis on youth and particularly young women’s participation in political parties in Africa;
  • Exchanging comparable lessons, experience and practices on the roles of young people in fostering accountable, responsive and effective governance throughout the continent;
  • Assessing the effectiveness of the existing participatory structures of youth and particularly young women in political parties; and
  • Identifying the specific roles of state and non-state actors (especially civil society) as well as National development partners towards strengthening youth engagement in democratic governance.
Successful organisations will be designated as National Conversation Leads and will be required to provide technical, logistical and financial support towards the convening of the national conversation. In addition, these organisations will be required to work with other organisations in their respective Member States. The national conversations should be undertaken between August 24 and September 25,2015. Interested organisation should address their two page proposal to Ibraheem Sanusi at Deadline for the receipt of proposal is Friday 21st  August 2015.

For more information, download the guidance note for the call 

Source: DGTrends Website

Does holding on to power for decades make any difference to the well-being of citizens?

Over the past ten years or more, heads of states across many of Africa’s new democracies have attempted to modify their country’s constitutions to prolong their mandates. Today, in many of these countries – examples include Burundi, Rwanda, Togo, Benin and both Congos – discussions are heating up over whether term limits should be imposed. In past articles, I have made several arguments in favor of fixed terms. Here, however, I take a step back to see if there is a relationship between term limits and citizens’ well-being. Does maintaining the same person in power for decades make any difference in the livelihoods of the people?

Before delving into this issue, there is one necessary caveat to clarify. The links between democracy (or any regime type, for that matter) and economic development have been the subject of ample prior research. However these studies have rarely born definitive conclusions. Analysts such as Michael Ross(1) and Mancur Olson(2) believe that democracy leads to better management of public resources and an overall improvement in people’s lives (particularly in the education and health sectors). Meanwhile, there are others, such as Jenny Minier(3), who think that providing services to constituents is not a trait specific to democracies and that non-democratic regimes can indeed provide the same. The purposes of this paper are not to take sides of this debate, but rather to un-package some of the issue itself. This paper, therefore, does not attempt to provide definitive answers, but merely to stimulate further discussion.

Is there any evidence to show that populations can indeed benefit from having the same person in power for a protracted period of time? That is the most obvious question. It is a key question for new democracies in the region to be asking, especially given the number of heads of states fighting to hold on to power and the seemingly high price paid by the citizens for this type of “uncontained” control. The ‘cost’ on our countries is, among other things, reflected in our weak institutions and civil society, restraints on citizens’ basic rights and the inexistence of opposition. But is this solely, or even directly, a result of presidents who don’t relinquish power? One possible entry point to this conversation is to look at the UNDP’s human development rankings of countries where terms limits are imposed/respected as compared to those where leaders have been/stayed in power for decades.

Data on Development in West Africa

The Human Development Index (HDI)(4) is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education and income and will be used as the factual (data) basis by which to compare two national groupings that have very different leadership histories (see Graphic 1 below). The first group is made up of countries where the same leaders have held power for decades. This includes Togo, Burkina Faso and Gambia. In the former country, for example, the presiding Gnassingbe family has been in power for 48 years (Eyadema Gnassingbe stayed in power from 1967 to 2005 and his son, Faure Gnassingbe, has been there since 2005). In Burkina Faso, President Blaise Compaore spent 27 years (1987-2014) before he was forced to leave office at the end 2014 due to violent street protests; while in The Gambia, President Yaya Jammeh is now ending his second decade in power (which he’s held since July 1994). In the second group, there is Benin, Ghana and Senegal – all countries where democratic rotation and the alternation of power have become the norm (there have been at least two changes in power in each country since the mid-1990s). While in Ghana, politicians seem to have respected terms limitation, Benin and Senegal have experienced attempts by former presidents to hang on to power beyond the two terms limits set by their constitutions. These attempts have failed however, thanks to civil society activists and some political actors.

Graphique 1 Mathias Blog post

Looking at Graph 1, which explores the Human Development Index (HDI) of the six countries, there are no perceivable patterns or major differences between the two country groupings. For instance (and except for in Ghana), the trends in the evolution of the HDIs in Senegal and Benin (which have experienced at least two changes in power over the last two decades) are not very different from those of The Gambia, Togo and Burkina Faso where heads of state have stayed (or tried to stay) longer than initially planned (or for more than 10 years). However, the HDIs seem slightly higher in the first group of countries as compared to those in the second group.
But of course there are other factors to consider aside from the HDI. Aspects such as the amount of natural resources, geography (whether the country is landlocked or not) and the size of the economy (GDP) are all important considerations. For example, take the first group – Ghana, Senegal and Benin – all of whom have higher GDP per capita ($4029, $2,243 and $1,793 respectively). The second group, by contrast, are nations with smaller GDP per capita ($1,642 for The Gambia, $1,638 for Burkina Faso and $1,390 for Togo).

But what if we looked at states within the top GDP ranked countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and compared their leadership histories? Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana can be grouped into one category where there are high GDP’s and power alternation. Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Cameroon may be grouped into another with high similarly high GDPs, yet without power alternation. The result? Graph 2 represents the variation (or lack thereof) of the HDI between 1990 and 2013 between these two groups.

Graphique 2 Mathias Blog Post

According to Graph 2, it once again indicates that staying in power longer (more than 10 years), even with higher GDP per capita, does not necessarily translate into better human development compared to a country with changes in power. For instance, South Africa and Ghana with GDPs of $12,507 and $4,029 respectively have better HDI’s compared to Equatorial Guinea and Angola where their GDPs are $33,767 and $7,978.

But the story doesn’t end here. There are several other factors that come into play and which contribute to the social and economic development of a country. A change in head of state is just one consideration. More research still needs to be done to provide concrete evidence supporting the fact that, except for in very few instances, several decades incumbency does not make any difference in citizens’ lives.

It would be beneficial for all new democracies to find additional and measurable proof that in countries where leaders hold on to power for several decades there was not any notable difference in the lives of citizens, as compared to countries where alternation of power was the norm. If this was indeed the case, there would be no point in fighting to keep the same person in power for several decades, especially since there are many advantages in alternation of power. So what are these benefits?

Alternation of power is good in itself
In a previous article, I argued in favor of presidential term limitations, largely because it improves the virtue of those in positions of control and operates as a moderating mechanism against abuses. Power tends to increase over time. As former US President John Adams is often quoted, “human passions are insatiable” in their quest for control and, as British historian and politician Lord Acton used to say “power corrupts”. Indeed the longer an individual or aligned group stays in power, the more dominance they accumulate and the more they (and power) becomes prone to abuse. Furthermore, experience across 90% of the world’s established democracies has shown that presidential rule is subject to a form of limitation, while here in Sub-Saharan Africa unlimited presidential terms have not proven conclusive.

A recent article posted on the Brookings’ Institution website on the African Leadership Transitions Tracker provides further arguments in favor of power alternation. Among its benefits it cites an “improved context for political rights and civil liberties”and the fact that “citizens’ support for democracy is affected by democratic turnover”. American political advisor Gideon Maltz(5) goes even further by stating in his 2007 article The Case for Presidential Term Limits that “… the mere alternation of ruling elites tends to disembowel electoral authoritarianism”(6) . Most importantly, Maltz goes on to stress an even more valuable truth: “… turnover in government destroys the patronage networks and clientelistic relationships … and the new ruling party must begin the gradual process of taking over the state’s assets and pressing them into service.”

As I’ve tried to show through this short overview of the HDI’s relative to power tenure across country groupings,there are no notable differences between Ghana, Senegal and Benin and Burkina Faso, Gambia and Togo as a result of power alternation. However, what is important – in fact, crucial – is that in this first group of countries, they are engaged in building functioning and effective institutions. And it is these institutions that will (among other roles) serve as the foundations to provide peace and stability, which are invaluable to social and economic development. However, and as previously stated, more evidence is still needed in support of the arguments put forward here, and it is my hope we can further build on this discussion to build a more fruitful and tangible case for imposing presidential term limits.

Author: Mathias Hounkpe is OSIWA’s Political Governance Program Manager
Follow Mathias on Twitter @Coffi_12


[1] Michael Ross, “Is Democracy Good for the Poor?”

[2] Olson, M. (1993). Dictatorship, Democracy and Development. American Political Science Review 87 (3), 567-576

[3] Something is needed here (reference)

[4] Defined by the United Nations Development Programme as a “a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living”

[5] Cited by the African leadership transitions tracker’s piece

[6] Gideon Maltz, “The Case for Presidential Term Limits”, Journal of Democracy, 18:1, January 2007.

SOURCE: Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)