13 April 2022 14:0016:00

Advancing the pan-African governance agenda: Lessons from fifteen years of the charter on democracy, elections and governance

On 13 April, ECDPM’s Lidet Tadesse presented at the online panel discussion event ‘Advancing the pan-African governance agenda: Lessons from fifteen years of the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance’, which was taking place in order to commemorate the 15th anniversary of African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) & the 10th anniversary of its entry into force. 

ECDPM staff involved

It is fifteen years since African countries united at the African Union have given themselves an overarching framework to improve governance across the continent with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG). In February 2012, ten years ago precisely, a sufficient number of countries (fifteen initially) had ratified the Charter to become active and legally binding. Since then, 35 countries out of 55 have ratified the Charter, and many follow-up instruments and institutional adjustments have been adopted. In February 2022, Kenya was the latest country to join the club by ratifying the Charter.

The Charter offers a roadmap for countries to seek to improve governance, a legal basis for enforcement of the obligations required of member states, and a framework for civil society and international actors to hold them accountable.

However, the continent has, in the past decade, experienced instances of military coups, unconstitutional changes of government, as well as highly disputed electoral outcomes and contested manipulations of constitutionsSo is the ACDEG failing? Or rather: what can realistically be expected from – and done with – this framework to promote improved governance on the continent in adverse conditions? Beyond governments themselves, what role should continental and regional institutions, as well as a civil society play in the implementation of ACDEG?

This double anniversary, with the benefit of hindsight and recent developments, presented an excellent opportunity to reflect on the progress so far and challenges encountered by the ACDEG, as well as the opportunities looking ahead.


Amb. Salah Hammad, AGA Secretariat
Adv. Batlokoa Makong, African Peer Review Mechanism
Lidet Tadesse, European Centre for Development Policy Management
Sibusido Nkomo, Afrobarometer
Gali Massa Harou, Pan African Parliament
Lindiwe Khumalo, ACHPR
Justin Arenstein, Code for Africa
Siasa Place, Nerima Wako

An event report is available here (and also in French). 

The Charter Project Africa is a pan-African project focused on the commitments contained in the ACDEG, which promotes the usage of civic technology to amplify citizen voices and opens spaces of collaboration between citizens, civic initiatives and African Union policymakers at national, regional and continental levels with an emphasis on digital formats. It receives funding from the European Union.