The German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched the Africa Election Fund, to strengthen democracy in Africa through innovative, agile and timely support to electoral processes.
Democracies across the world are being challenged in varying ways. Strengthening democracy has become an urgent and renewed global responsibility. Elections have proven to be a key catalyst for democratic and socio-economic gains. However, they also carry the potential for the outbreak of conflict and, in some cases, even lead to severe crises if they are not conducted in an inclusive, transparent and credible manner.
In light of technological evolution, harmful practices on social media and recent events on the continent, more capacity is required for innovation, adaptation and stronger ownership and inclusivity in Africa’s political and electoral environment. UNDP has established this new fund, with a €3 million initial commitment by Germany, to support African countries in owning and developing their democratic processes.
“The Africa Election Fund aims to support early phases of electoral cycles and prevent potential crises,” stated Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa. “The Fund will provide the means to accelerate activities when appropriate, pilot new approaches, including the use of technologies, manage associated risks, and facilitate further collaboration among African Member States and at the regional level,” she continued.
The German government is confident that the Africa Election Fund will provide the necessary support to successfully conduct elections in Africa. Deike Potzel, Director-General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilization, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance at the GFFO, underscored: “Germany is committed to strengthening open societies and democratic institutions worldwide. Together with UNDP, we aim to make democracies more resilient and to foster free and fair elections. The Africa Election Fund will support fair and free elections, and serve as a platform for learning and the exchange of best practices. Also, it can give us the chance to act early, when we see that elections might spark conflicts.”
While the African Union’s robust normative frameworks on elections, democracy and governance offer a solid foundation for the Fund, in addition to positive examples on the continent, renewed and integrated efforts are required in a context of severe constitutional crisis, increased security issues and a global crisis of trust in democratic institutions.
The Africa Election Fund will particularly foster greater participation of youth and women, who remain largely underrepresented despite their democratic weight and demonstrated ambitions and capacities. It will support them in fully contributing to policies and decision-making that carry socio-economic consequences for their lives and communities.
The Fund will also address how rapid technological evolution offers the potential for greater inclusion of citizens, but equally increases the pace of unverified or inaccurate information sharing, impacting trust in media and democratic processes.
In the last three decades, UNDP has served as a major implementing partner of electoral assistance, witnessing first-hand how the electoral and democratic landscapes have evolved. With a quarter of all official global development assistance (ODA) allocated towards elections, Africa is a lead context of intervention for UNDP, working closely with African Union Member States based on requested electoral assistance, and where the UN confirms its capacity to assist.