The 2021 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Forum Report titled “COVID-19 in Africa – One Year On: Impact and Prospects” indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged democracy, freedom and human rights on the continent further into crisis.

This state of affairs has serious implications for the legitimacy of democracy in Africa, a form of government which citizens across the continent have typically shown support for as evidenced in successive rounds of Afrobarometer surveys. Despite the demand for democratic governance however, many Africans feel dissatisfied that their aspirations are not fully met by the supply thereof. The African Union has sought to respond to this challenge through launching the African Governance Architecture (AGA) in 2010 as a structure to promote democracy, good governance and the respect for human rights. This initiative follows the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and is intended to influence and improve Africa’s democratic governance landscape.

IJR, as part of a broader consortium of organisations which include Afrobarometer, the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) at the University of Nairobi, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in Ghana and the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit (DGRU) at the University of Cape Town will collaborate on a multi-year project funded by the European Union (EU) to support the AGA by enhancing its linkages with pan-African civil society organisations through their engagement with the African Governance Platform, which serves as the dialogue and information-sharing forum for the goals of the AGA. This project recognises that the vision of improved African democratic governance and the fulfilment of human rights can, and should be strengthened with the partnership and support of Pan-African civil society networks and coalitions. This is critical as sustainable human development cannot be achieved in the absence of a strong foundation of democracy, good governance and peace and stability.

As democratic governance and human rights face larger threats under the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no better time than this to implement new and bolder justice-oriented visions of our collective future as Africans.

Asafika Mpako, Project Officer, CSO-AGP Project at the IJR