The Maendeleo Policy Forum aims at providing space for African leaders, international mediators and negotiators, researchers, policy makers, and development practitioners to debate on critical issues of development in Africa.
The 5th edition hosted in Ghana forms part of a series of activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the UNDP.
Participants to the forum included political parties, researchers, youth groups, electoral officers and development partners.
Africa has come a long way when it comes to democratic governance and elections.
The most independent period was characterized by military regimes, rule of exclusive political parties and electoral and constitutional arbitrary changes of regimes.
Since then Africa has embraced the democratic ideas; countries have largely chosen to select leaders and establish relevant state institutions by the means of elections.
Elections have now become a powerful tool for democracy, accountability and ultimately human development even though the many believe the continent has a long way to go into quality and transformation.
The debate examined the general trends and challenge faced by African countries in organizing democratic and peaceful elections while at the same time identified opportunities for a brighter future on the continent.
Speaking on “Elections in the Sub-Saharan Africa: General Trends, Challenges and Opportunities”, the president of the Association of African Election Authorities Charlotte Osei stressed the need for African electoral bodies to peer-learn from one another to improve on the outcome of elections.
She said despite the numerous challenges, Africa is doing better in terms of trends in elections and urged electoral commissions on the continent to use technology to enhance credibility of polls.
“As we all work together there is no doubt in my mind that Africa is going to have a stronger democratic space and the electoral process will be stronger and the people of Africa will benefit the more for it,” she said.
The Associate Administrator of the UNDP Dr Tegegnework Gettu stressed the need to strengthen the political culture in Africa and to increase discussions and debate and promote collaborative leadership in governance and political discourse.
“This will enable the constituents to exercise their civil rights in electing the individuals and political parties of their choice and will strengthen governance and the delivery of public goods and services generally.”
A member of the African Union Panel of the Wise and Ex-chair of the South African Independent Electoral Commission Dr Brigalia Bam called on African countries to uphold the independence of state institutions and provide the greatest protection to their electoral commissions to conduct churn out credible polls. Enditem
Source: Xinhua/News Ghana