One of the challenges faced by contemporary African countries in governance and development is the trend toward the weakening or even the dissolution of national sovereignty. Some countries’ administrative abilities are insufficient, and their state systems and governmental functions are gradually sliding toward degeneration and collapse.
First, what is the most important task or core issue for contemporary African countries’ political development? What kind of government systems are feasible, effective and can be stably maintained? Second, for the young countries in Africa, what is the best way to set up and choose standards for political systems and state regimes? Third, should these post- independence African countries set up the endogenous localized political systems and structures to form centralised and powerful governments that contribute to promoting economic development, social stability and improved living standards, or transplant the parliamentary systems and election systems that seem to have so-called moral legitimacy under the background of western cultures and according to western political ideology? Fourth, should we establish a powerful government that can centralize national resources, in order to make joint efforts to achieve the state’s long-term development goals, or establish a weak government that only pursues its own immediate interests or partial interests, and thus leads to continuous mutually exclusive cut-throat competition?
All these issues have not been well understood much less resolved. While behind this confused theory and idea, the African political reality has increasingly presented long- term turbulence and confusion.
How best to reconcile ethnic cleavages and the discreteness of tribal societies and promote the construction of unified modern sovereign states through ethnic integration, is the biggest political challenge faced by most of the African countries that won independence in the mid of 20th century. It is also the fundamental premise for realising state stability, economic growth and social security. However, in some countries, from the beginning, this process has been affected by various factors, and has thus resulted in slow progress. Nowadays, some African countries are even gradually falling into anarchy, with the dissolution of state system and the collapse of governmental functions. Today, the factors that make negative impacts on the unified construction process of African countries and dissolve the basis of the state have become very complex and varied. Generally speaking, the following have become the most obvious challenges..
The first challenge is the economic globalisation and political liberalisation process that is dominated by western developed countries. For the poor countries in Africa, this process has been dissolving the sovereignty of African countries and eroding the political authority of African countries to take action. In general, African countries have passively got involved into the globalisation tide, in an environment where the domestic integration process is far from complete and the construction of a unified state with a clear national identity is far from resolved. As weak countries, African nations often face pressures of the loss of the sovereignty and being divided into several parts.
The second challenge is that, under situations in which ethnic integration and the construction of the state were far from complete, some African countries were forced to transplant or mechanically copy western competitive multi-party systems and electoral politics, which often caused continuous ethnic, religious and cultural conflict. Again, this eroded the African countries’ unity, sovereignty and ability to rule from the interior.
The third challenge is the rapid emergence of large numbers of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and the adversarial political appeals put forward by these organisations over the past two decades. These NGOs often are supported and controlled by foreign powers. However, to a certain extent, they have contributed to the dissolution of African countries’ internal tolerance, coherence, state authority and ability to take action from the interior.
In fact, nowadays, without sovereignty and government management, no country could gain the social stability, national security and economic growth that are necessary for social development. In some African countries and regions, the government’s capacity is severely deficient, The basic political regime has existed in name only, and the functional networks, and management systems with coherent and clear divisions of responsibility and functional connections between the top and bottom political levels are nonexistent. Under a situation of “having tribe societies without a central government,” thousands of civilians suffer from feelings of helplessness and get into difficult situations. The dissolution of state unity and the loss of governmental management capacity has resulted in huge disasters. Although African countries presently have enormous human capital and a large and growing young population, the population bonus is far from being fully utilized, because there is no organised and coherent system to mobilize this large population into the large force needed for the countries’ construction.