African countries

The EIU unveils its 2021 ranking of the most democratic African countries

(Agence Ecofin) – The downward trend in democracy around the world has accelerated in 2021. In Africa, restrictions due to covid-19, insecurity and political tensions have added to a series of blows state in the sub-Saharan region.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has just released its 2021 Global Democracy Report, which ranks countries around the world according to their level of democracy. The ranking includes 50 African countries except Seychelles, South Sudan, Somalia and Sao Tome and Principe.

Following the same trend as in 2020, the level of global democracy declined in 2021. The average score in SSA fell to 4.12 last year from 4.16 in 2020. As in previous years, only Mauritius ranks in the “full democracy” category, but the country’s score fell from 8.14 to 8.08, although it gained a place in the world rankings. More than half of SSA countries (23) are considered authoritarian.

The EIU attributes the decline of democracy primarily to deteriorating performance in the areas of electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. The resurgence of coups d’etat, against a background of security tensions, has weakened the democratic systems of the countries of the region. In West Africa, Mali moved from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime” in 2020. The country retained the same category in 2021, due to the second coup led by Colonel Assimi Goita in May 2021.

In Guinea, President Alpha Condé was overthrown in September by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, while in Niger a coup attempt was foiled in March. Sudan, which had entered a democratic process since the fall of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, also suffered a coup in October 2021. This led to the overthrow of the transitional government led by civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Overall, 16 of the 44 countries in sub-Saharan Africa recorded a drop in their score, with the most significant being Guinea (-0.80) and Mali (-0.45) falling to 147th and 119th place respectively. They are followed by Benin (-0.39), Congo-Brazzaville (-0.32) and Angola (-0.29).

Despite these poor performances, 14 countries in the region have improved their scores over the past year. For example, while Mauritania moved from the authoritarian category to the hybrid category, Zambia’s score increased by 0.86 points. What helped Zambia was the organization of peaceful presidential elections in August 2021 at a time when tensions seemed imminent.

On the whole continent, including North and Sub-Saharan Africa, only Mauritius is in the “full democracy” category, six African countries are imperfect democracies, 16 are hybrids (halfway between authoritarian regime and democracy ), while the remaining 27 are classified as authoritarian by the EIU.

As a reminder, since 2006 the EIU Democracy Index has provided an overview of the state of democracy in the world for 165 independent states and two territories.

Moutiou Adjibi Nourou