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A selection of foresight content from our digital library and more on this month's chosen theme.

Democracy and Africa's future.

Celebrating at the news of Hosni Mubarak's resignation, Egypt

Celebrating at the news of Hosni Mubarak's resignation, Egypt

Image: A woman in Egypt's Tahrir Square, February 2011, by AP/Tara Todras-Whitehill.


Mohamed Bouazizi’s fatal act of self-immolation triggered a demonstration in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, which in turn spawned mass protests against corruption, authoritarianism, high unemployment, the lack of freedoms, and human rights abuses. Without the military to back him, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepped down on 14 January 2011, setting off a season of protest that inspired hundreds of thousands of North Africans in Egypt, Algeria and Libya to take to the streets and fill public squares.

For a few breathless moments dictators everywhere, it seemed, could fall. Those of us observing from afar watched on television, followed online – lending encouraging support on Twitter and Facebook – and hoped that the momentum of it all would sweep across the continent and the Middle East.

An election official marks a voter's finger

Image: Voting in Nigeria's presidential elections in April 2011.


It hasn’t. In Libya, civil war rages. Colonel Gaddafi and his mercenaries aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Civilians are dying. Women are raped. Families and migrant workers are fleeing, if they can. Air assaults by Nato and its allies continue. Elsewhere, violent suppression is being meted out to protesters in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, and Uganda. The score line in the contest of democracy versus dictatorship is one-one, with the dictators on the attack.

Like many others, we want to know if a wave of democratisation is sweeping across the African continent.

Is 2011 the dawn of continent-wide democracy?

Will democracy be an ineffaceable feature of Africa’s future?

From our digital repository, we’ve selected texts that we think capture what futurists and other intellectuals have to say about the place of democracy in Africa’s future. Some of what is predicted is encouraging; some of it is not. What can’t be disputed is that the desire for democracy seems more intense than ever. Yet fulfillment of that desire is another matter entirely.


In our library

Africa and the Globe

  • "African Futures 2050", a monograph from the Institute for Security Studies.
  • "Foresight and Anticipatory Governance", a view from the Department of Science and Technology.
  • McKinsey Quarterly's perspective in "Fulfilling the Promise of Sub-Saharan Africa".
  • An essay on "Global Democracy: A World System’s View" from Emory University.
  • From the National Intelligence Council, an account of "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World".
  • How nongovernmental experts see the future: "Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue about the Future with Nongovernment Experts".
  • From the Azerbaijan Node of the Millennium Project, a perspective on "How Can The Changing Status Of Women Help Improve The Human Condition?"
  • A National Intelligence Council's conference report, "Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa's Future".
  • From the Institute for Future Studies, "Six Pillars: Futures Thinking for Transforming Foresight".
  • Studied by the South African Institute for International Affairs, "Strategy for Effective Policy Advocacy: Demanding Good Governance in Africa".
  • "The Significance of Futures Intelligence Capacity in Realizing the African Dream", an argument for futures-driven development.
  • Human rights and justice emphasised in "Transitional Justice and Human Rights in the 21st Century".
  • Thoughts on "Wisdom, Leadership, Governance and (implicitly) the Future" by Bruce Lloyd.
  • "Youth Fact Book: Infinite Possibility or Definite Disaster?", a view from the continent.
  • A review of the concept of democracy in "The Future of Democracy in the Face of Climate Change".
  • A conference paper on "Simulating the Evolution of Global Democracy, 2001-2025".
  • T Jeff Tall's approach to "Fixing Africa - Once And For All".
  • From Finland's Committee of the Futures, a contribution to democracy in "Democracy and Futures".
  • The African Forum for Envisioning the Future's perspective in "Democratic Governance and New Democracy in Africa".
  • On the evolution of global politics, read "Long-Term Trends in World Politics".

North Africa

  • "Three Future Scenarios for Libya", a Global Public Square blog from CNN.
  • From historian Juan Cole, " Scenarios For Egypt's Future: How Democratic Will It Be?"

East and Central Africa

  • "The East African Election Train", a summary of forthcoming elections in the region from the Society for International Development.
  • "Bunge Lenye Meno: A Parliament with Teeth for Tanzania", a report from the Africa Research Institute.
  • "Keeping the Peace in the DRC", a critical reflection from the Africa Research Institute.
  • Four possible scenarios in "Kenya at the Crossroads".
  • "Scenarios for Sudan's Future Revisited" from the United States Institute for Peace.
  • "The State of East Africa", a report from the Society for International Development.
  • "Rwanda Vision 2020", a description of how Rwanda sees its future.
  • Peace and conflict in Uganda, in "War and Peace Scenarios in Northern Uganda".

West Africa

  • "Beyond 2020: Crisis Drivers in West Africa's Future", a perspective from the Humanitarian Futures Programme, King's College, London.
  • "Vision 20: 2020 – Nigeria", a governmental policy view.
  • A critical response to the official scenario for Nigeria from the Africa Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development in "Nigeria Vision 2020: Progress, Challenges And The Way Forward".
  • "Perspectives on West Africa's Future", by the Humanitarian Futures Programme, King's College, London.
  • From the OECD, a study on "Preparing for the Future: A Vision of West Africa in the Year 2020".
  • "Future Scenarios for Cote d'Ivoire", an article from Al Jazeera.
  • Also from Al Jazeera, a feature on "Cote d'Ivoire: The Forgotten War?"

Southern Africa

  • Scenarios of renaissance, asymmetry or decline and decay in "Southern African Scenarios 2015".
  • An account of the value of scenarios in "Breaking the Mould: The Role of Scenarios in Shaping South Africa's Future".
  • The influential views that are the "Dinokeng Scenarios"
  • For Mozambique, this description of "Agenda 2025 - The Nation's Vision and Strategies".
  • From the Africa Research Institute, this view of the "Prospects for Change in Zimbabwe".
  • A CSIR report on "SADC 2015 Scenarios".
  • Documenting "Scenarios of Change in South Africa".
  • A vision of 2020 for Southern Africa, an article on the conference on public priorities for the future by Mark Hannam.
  • "The Mont Fleur Scenarios" by Deeper News.
  • Scenarios for SACU in the South African Institute for International Affair's "What does the Future Hold for SACU? From Own Goal to Laduma! Scenarios".
  • A 2005 report from the South African Institute for International Affairs on "Zimbabwe: A Pre-Election Overview and Recovery Scenarios".
  • Moeletsi Mbeki's article in Business Day on South Africa's coming Tunisia Day.
  • On the coming ‘Egyptian moment’ in South Africa, an opinion by Jay Naidoo.
  • In "Zimbabwe in 2010: A Short Guide to the Future", an account of civil rights violations.
  • Idasa's political scenario mapping in "Zimbabwe in 2011/2012: Political Scenario Mapping".
  • From the African Human Security Initiative, this 2008 report on "Positing Scenarios for Post-2008 Elections in Zimbabwe: What would Power Alternation mean for Zimbabwe?"
  • A paper on "Governance Research Agenda: Towards a Democracy Assessment Framework for Southern Africa".


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