African countries and the G7 are tackling the challenges facing democracy together
Listening, exchanging ideas, learning – so that our democracies can be improved and strengthened. That is the object of the conference for which more than 200 representatives from eight African states, the G7 countries and the United Nations are coming together in Berlin today.
How can democracies best make available fact-based information? How can our laws be adapted to tackle criminal content on the internet? In an attempt to provide answers to these questions and examine many other aspects, the conference will provide an overview of existing initiatives and opportunities for partnerships aimed at promoting democracy. Alongside Foreign Minister Baerbock, the Foreign Minister of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, as well as the Nigerian human rights activist and co-founder of Transparency International, Oby Ezekwesili, will speak during the conference’s opening segment. Ghana is a prominent example of how democracy and good governance can transform a country into a middle-income country and a regional anchor of stability.
Background information: Democratic systems under pressure around the world
Both in African states and in the G7 countries, democratic systems have come increasingly under pressure in recent times. In the European Union, for instance, we are concerned to see some governments undermining the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of minorities. In Africa, in turn, there are presidents who tamper with constitutions in order to extend their term of office. In democracies around the world, autocratic forces are disseminating false narratives and disinformation from abroad.
At the same time, surveys show that democracy remains popular around the world. Some 70% of people in African countries stated in a representative Afrobarometer survey that they prefer democracy to any other form of governance. The figures are similar in the G7 countries.
It is therefore all the more important for democracies to come together across countries and continents to tackle the challenges outlined and to uphold democracy for people. For that very reason, Germany made increasing democratic resilience one of the priorities of its G7 Presidency in 2022.
Civil society widely represented at the conference
Democracy is all about governments serving their citizens and acting responsibly – as well as ensuring that everyone can participate in society: young people, minorities, women and girls in particular. A large number of representatives of civil society will therefore be at the conference. Groups within African and European civil societies do valuable work by, for example, documenting how Russia sets up troll factories and propaganda television networks, and how it buys journalists in order to influence articles on news websites. The aim of the conference is to identify starting points for more intensive cooperation.
Democracy in Africa: The colonial past has not been forgotten
In many democratic African societies with a very young population, democracy has to assert itself under particularly difficult socio-economic and political conditions. The legacy of colonialism left African states with a heavy burden, which often has an impact on them to this very day. That made it difficult for democracy to take root. In many cases, colonial powers fostered discord among communities with divide and rule tactics and drew arbitrary borders. Even after formal independence, external powers often supported non-democratic leaders in Africa.