Reflections on the prospects for democracy in Africa and on the impediments to that happening

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Approximately a half-century after the end of colonialism few countries in Africa have established long-term stable democracies. Instead, the last 50 years have witnessed either repeated failures or even regression or departure from the path to democracy. This article seeks to examine why. It discusses the current continent-wide state of and prospects for democracy in Africa in light of leading theories on democratic development. Part one of the article examines the western concept of democracy for the purposes of definition and suitability for Africa. It then describes both the values and requisites for a democracy to exist, including the socio-economic and institutional structures required. The article then draws upon a unique database constructed here that examines the relationship between democracy, economic development, poverty, and GDP, among other cross-national aggregate data. The article concludes with what ta discussion of what factors seems to be missing to entrench democracy across Africa, and observations regarding the impediments remaining to forming democratic regimes on this continent.

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