East African Nations’ Governance and Democratic Reforms Fall Short, Report Shows

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read
East African Nations' Governance and Democratic Reforms Fall Short, Report Shows

A recent global democracy index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reveals concerning trends in the governance and democratic reforms of several East African nations. According to the index, countries such as Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda have stagnated or regressed in their governance and democratic values over the past three years.

The report, titled “Democracy Index 2023: Age of Conflict,” assesses the state of democracy in 165 independent states, measuring various factors including electoral processes, civil liberties, government functionality, political participation, and political culture.

Kenya and Burundi have shown no improvement in their democracy indices, maintaining scores of 5.05 and 2.13, respectively, over the past three years. Uganda saw a marginal increase from 4.48 to 4.49, but the overall trend remains concerning.

In contrast, Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have shown progress in their governance and democratic indicators. Tanzania’s democracy index rose to 5.35, Rwanda’s to 3.3, and DRC’s to 1.68.

Despite some positive developments, the report highlights significant shortcomings in the region. East Africa lacks full democratic regimes, with Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda classified as authoritarian, and Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda as hybrid regimes. These hybrid regimes often face substantial irregularities in elections, government pressure on opposition parties, weak civil society, and widespread corruption.

The decline in democratic standards is not unique to East Africa but is part of a broader trend observed across sub-Saharan Africa. The region has seen a historic low in the aggregate democracy index score, largely due to the rise of military regimes and growing public dissatisfaction with political systems.

Twenty-five out of the 54 African states have experienced one or more coups or coup attempts in the past two decades, signaling a loss of trust in democratic institutions and political elites. Corruption, lack of transparency, and accountability further contribute to the erosion of trust in government and democratic processes.

The report underscores the need for urgent reforms to address these challenges and restore faith in democracy. Without meaningful reforms and increased accountability, the region risks further democratic regression and instability.


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