From the editor

Will Africa’s leaders provide the democracies voters demand? How can space satellites improve life on the continent? All this and more in our special edition.

The World Today Published 3 August 2022 Updated 27 October 2022 1 minute READ

Roxanne Escobales

Former Editor, The World Today, Communications and Publishing

With the African Union marking its 20th anniversary this year – and our own Africa Programme at Chatham House along with it – we have dedicated this issue to the complex and swiftly growing continent.

For the past couple of decades at least, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson has been reminding African leaders that ‘leadership is never given on a silver platter, one has to earn it’. With a string of significant elections from now through to 2024, it is an apt reminder for Africa’s largest democracies. 

Three principals from Afrobarometer analyse democratic trends across Africa from two decades of polling. Joseph Asunka, E Gyimah-Boadi and Carolyn Logan find that the demand for stronger democracies is great, but the supply is wanting.

In Nigeria, Rinu Oduala charts efforts to mobilize the youth vote, a large and growing demographic. Kiri Rupiah finds the ANC in South Africa, in power for nearly 30 years, crumbling from within. The hope for an end to corruption when Malawi re-ran its elections in 2020 has faded, finds Golden Matonga. And Koffi Sawyer offers a vision for Africa’s only absolute monarchy, eSwatini, to move to democracy.

Val Munsami outlines the key role space plays in African development, while Risana Zitha lays out how the African Continental Free Trade Area could lead to a tech boom. Nollywood studio boss Mo Abudu and author Dipo Faloyin discuss the global representation of Africans through culture. And Helen Fitzwilliam speaks to three editors of digital news media on how they are meeting the needs of their readers. 

Finally, the Nigerian photojournalist Nelly Ating acted as our photo editor to visualize African democracy.