Empowering Democracy: Exploring Norway's Role in African Democratic Development

The International Day of Democracy – 15 September 2023

September 15, 2023
Event Details

15 September 2023

11.30 - 13.00

Dronning Eufemias Gate 8 & Online


Marking the International Day of Democracy on September 15th, the UNDP Global Policy Centre for Governance (Oslo Governance Centre) together with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) hosted a seminar. The topic of the conversation was the state of democratic development on the African continent and potential avenues for Norwegian engagement.

As studies confirm, the world is in democratic decline. In Africa, there has been recurrent setbacks to hard-earned democratic achievements. A wave of coups, surging food prices, and a cost-of-living crisis are among the pressing challenges affecting the continent. Moreover, challenges posed by the climate crisis and environmental challenges are amplifying existing vulnerabilities. Lack of employment and opportunities, corruption, and underrepresentation of youth in decision-making, have all contributed to a crisis of trust between youth and political leadership. At the same time, the growing young population in numerous African countries is driving demands for political and societal transformation. According to Afrobarometer surveys, 70% of Africa’s population prefer to live in a democracy. And out of the new democracies in the world in the last 10 years, most are in Africa. This is happening alongside innovative technological developments that are redefining the prospects of democracy on the continent.

While there is no one-size-fits-all model of democracy, the vision of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is clear; a continent in which there is a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, and respect for human rights, justice, and the rule of law. Norway, a steadfast advocate of peace, stability and democracy in Africa, faces crucial questions: Why and how should Norway get involved? How can Norway effectively contribute to democratic development in Africa? What lessons can be learned from Norway’s and the international community’s past experience in supporting democracy in African nations, and how can we do better in the future?

UNDPs dedicated Global Policy Centre for Governance issues promotes transformative governance for peaceful, just and inclusive societies.  The Centre responds to complex and rapidly evolving policy landscapes by creating mutually reinforcing linkages between UNDP's governance work in over 170 countries and territories and global thought-leadership.

The Norwegian MFA is in the process of formulating a new strategy for Africa engagement. This seminar will strengthen the basis of knowledge and get input on the important topics of democracy and governance that can be reflected in the strategy.

Distinguished Contributors to the Discussion:

  • H.E. Anniken Huitfeldt Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs will give opening remarks
  • Ms. Lindiwe Mazibuko, CEO of Futurelect
  • Mr. Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative, Nigeria
  • Ms. Egna Sidumo, Doctoral Researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute
  • Ms. Rahwa Tilahun Yohaness, Editor, Afrika.no
  • Mr. Arvinn Gadgil, Director, UNDP Global Policy Centre for Governance will moderate the panel discussion