Addis Ababa Hosts Pan-African Experts for ‘Democracy Capture’ Seminar


The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) recently organized a regional event in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 22nd and 23rd of August, focusing on the concept of “Democracy Capture.” The CDD, based in Ghana, aims to promote democracy, good governance, and the development of a liberal economic environment in Ghana and Africa at large. The purpose of the event was to deliberate on the general theme of democracy capture and to discuss the CDD’s publications on the topic, particularly the one published in 2021.

The term “Democracy Capture” denotes the manner in which interconnected processes of clientelism, neo-patrimonialism, the personalization of politics, and state capture affect the democratic process. This phenomenon isn’t confined to Africa but is seen in other countries like Brazil, India, and the United States. The report produced by CDD examined the cases of five African countries: Benin, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, and Nigeria.

Ivor Chipkin, the executive director and co-founder of New South Institute (NSI), participated in the event as a representative of the institute. The meeting attracted participants from various African countries, with representatives from Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and more.

Throughout the event, discussions revolved around the relationship between democratic capture and state capture. The differentiation of these concepts was highlighted, emphasizing that while democratic capture relates to politics as a phenomenon and its relationship to democracy, state capture often gets reduced to mere corruption.

Another point of discussion was the environment in which state capture takes place in Africa. It was noted that state capture tends to occur within democratic institutions, indicating the dominant role that democracy plays on the continent.

Furthermore, the event underscored that, according to surveys by Afrobarometer, democracy is highly regarded amongst the African populace. However, there’s a palpable disappointment with how democracy functions in their respective nations.

Several prominent individuals and representatives from various organizations attended the event, including Prof Gyimah-Boadi, founder of Afrobarometer, Ichumile Gqada from Open Society Foundation, SA, Levinia Addae-Mensah from West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, Ghana, and others. The discussions during the event touched on topics like the reversals of democracy in West Africa, the lack of dividends of democracy for the people, and the attraction of military rule due to secessionist movements.

In summary, the event in Addis Ababa provided a platform for extensive discussions on the idea of “Democracy Capture,” its implications, and the challenges and opportunities it presents in the African context.

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