The democracy, rule of law and human rights agenda is under pressure but it is more relevant than ever in the Europe-Africa dialogue. Fears of the negative effects of globalisation, growing inequalities and the refugee crisis have caused a wave of populism in Western liberal democracies. In several European countries, traditional political parties are losing the trust of significant parts of the population. This also affects the role that Europe is playing in the global world and in its partnership with Africa as the closest neighbour. Geopolitical and economic interests seem to take the upper hand over the values in EU foreign policy.
Africa remains a continent of contrasts: rapid economic growth alongside enduring poverty, widespread adoption of electoral politics while pockets of authoritarian rule persist, gains in life expectancy amid crises of AIDS, Ebola, and malaria.
Does democracy promote economic growth? An immense body of literature already exists on this topic but there is, as yet, no hard consensus among scholars and policymakers alike about the general link between democracy and growth. This question is particularly relevant to sub-Saharan Africa—a region where two broad trends of fast economic growth and democratization concurrently happened over the past two decades.