Africa Department

  • A glimmer of hope for West Africa?


    Bassirou Diomaye Faye surprisingly won the presidential elections in Senegal. The result heralds a new era in the country’s recent political history, says Claudia Ehing (Head of the FES office in Senegal) in the current IPS article.

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  • Playing with fire


    Senegal’s President Macky Sall unexpectedly postponed the presidential elections, already causing enormous political, social and economic consequences, says Claudia Ehing (Head of the FES office in Senegal) in the current IPS article.

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  • Bye-bye blue helmets


    Violence is escalating in eastern Congo. With the UN peacekeepers due to pull out, who will fill the power vacuum, asks Manuel Wollschläger (Head of the FES office in DR Congo) in the current IPS article.

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  • Every woman around the world has something to learn from Cameroonian women

    News | Interview

    In this IPS interview Sally Mboumien, one of the winners of the German Africa Prize 2023, talks about the various conflicts in Cameroon, violence against women and their fight for peace.

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About us

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been promoting the values of the Social Democracy in Africa for over 40 years. We work for social justice, democracy, peace and international solidarity on the continent. It has encouraged and nurtured political exchange between Africa, Germany and Europe for many years, acting as partner to political parties, parliaments, trade unions, media, civil society groups and the interested public.

In joint programs with our partners, we strive to enable and strengthen social and democratic political participation. Together with young people, we develop ideas for shaping a better future. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung contributes to the dialogue on peace and security, migration and processes of economic transformation. We act towards strengthening the representation of workers' interests by means of political education and international networking.

We can only confront global challenges such as climate change, illicit financial flows or migration by acting jointly with the countries of Africa. Therefore we are committed to global partnership with the countries of Africa.

Africa Department


Dr. Henrik Maihack


Konstanze Lipfert

Hiroshimastr. 17
10785 Berlin

+49 30-269 35-74 41


The Africa Department addresses the following topics in particular:

EU-Africa Relations

The most important external partner of the African Union since it was founded in 2002 is the European Union (EU). The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) was signed in 2007 and has provided an orientation for the European-African partnership dialogue ever since. more

Peace and Security

Violent conflicts pose a significant political and societal challenge throughout Africa. By the same token, in addition to varying constellations of conflict, they all have in common the fact that poor governance and the side-effects of corruption all the way to lack of socio-economic participation are basic causes of insecurity. more

Promotion of Democracy and Media

Roughly 25 years following the beginning of watershed changes in the world political arena triggered by the wave of democratic reforms in the late 1980s, there are at present only very few countries in Africa that do not have multi-party political systems and stage regular elections. more

Trade Unions

Trade union organisation in Africa is weak at the national, regional and continental levels and is primarily limited to the formal sector, which means that only the interests of a minority of the working population are represented. more

Economic Policy

Economic growth must go hand in hand with a reduction in high levels of unemployment in order to attain sustainable development. more

Here you can find a collection of our projects

Reform of Trade Union Structures in Sub-Saharan Africa

The topic of making trade unions viable in the future and structural change of trade unions has been at the heart of the project since 2016. The aim and objective is to identify internal structural deficits and barriers to revitalisation of trade union influence and organisational power working together with trade unions from Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Zimbabwe and Botswana. At the centre of it all is the need for a (re-)orientation of trade union leadership levels and strategies to align more closely with members and the shopfloor level, in particular participation and involvement of members in trade union positions, demands and their implementation. How can capacities of leadership levels and members be strengthened to this end while establishing productive ties between shopfloors, trade unions and national union federations?

Industrial Policy and Political Economy

Questioning the sustainability of current growth on the continent has generated more interest on the part of African countries in industrial policy strategies. Around 80 per cent of people in Sub-Saharan Africa have low-productivity jobs and/or low incomes, either in the sector of subsistence agriculture or in the informal economy. More than one-third of growth is based on the exploitation of natural resources. There is general agreement that structural change into higher productivity sectors of the economy is the next task at hand. "But placing theoretical principles of industrial policy, which have in the meantime gained widespread acceptance, within a practical framework for concrete government action is indeed a daunting and dismaying task, with this perhaps being all the more so the case on the African continent, where the institutional foundations for effective government are often not as strong as one would desire" (Stiglitz et al 2013). Why is there so little industrial development in Africa? This work line examines why African experience with industrialisation has been so disappointing to date, what country or regional factors influence industrial development in general and how interaction between policy and business influence industrial policy aims and objectives and instruments in particular.

Active civic commitment and public sphere

An essential and structural characteristic of the newly emerged/established democratic systems in Africa during the 1990s is a citizenship which is oriented towards and dependent on the elite. Citizens decide in regular elections which of the competing elites are allowed to rule for the next term. In addition, citizens have merely become political consumers and any commitment on the part of citizens which goes beyond, is not accepted and not acceptable.

But elections alone are not enough to strengthen democracy. Democracy grows between elections. It is only possible to deepen democracy if it is also based on the self-organised participation of citizens. A “citizens’ society” of this kind has to be institutionally more open to participation than a purely representative democracy.

For such a “citizens’ society" to develop, not only must the institutions of representative democracy be open and empowered to debate societal interests in the scope of on-going debates, but so must civil and political society. Active civic commitment has the potential to be the driving force for a change in political power constellations and “clientelistic” reliance on the elites in politics and society.

The project’s objective is to strengthen active citizen engagement in the public sphere and within existing public and political institutions. The aim is to create access to processes of the formation of political will and political opinion within political and societal spaces. The activities based on these considerations reflect the specific conditions and needs in the participating countries. They include, for example:

  • the training of young leaders from political parties, trade unions, associations, churches and civil society and their involvement in the public debate,
  •  the conduct of parliamentary hearings,
  • the opening of civil society organisations to the interests of citizens by staging dialogue forums,
  • the formation of alliances between civil society organisations and the development of policy recommendations to strengthen political interest representation,
  • the organisation of public debates on topics such as social policy, youth unemployment, educational policy, climate change, reform of the electoral system and constitutional reform.

FES offices in the following countries are involved in the project: Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Cameroon/Central Africa and Senegal.

New Approaches for Collective Security

Peace and security in Africa continue to be threatened among other things by conflicts revolving around the scramble for resources, ethnic tensions, transnational violence, organised crime, terrorism, the proliferation of small arms and multiplying non-state actors as parties to conflicts. On top of it all, democratic institutions often remain weak, there is a paucity of security policy strategies, existing strategies are insufficiently put into practice, financial resources are lacking and countervailing interests between various regional powers. Migration on and from the African continent is also an additional factor. Many conflicts have been raging for years, while others flare up again after deceptive phases of quiet. While the causes of insecurity have also changed considerably, the structures and approaches of collective security policy strategies like the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Governance Architecture (AGA) have remained the same.

Against this background, the FES has initiated the pan-continental project "New Approaches for Collective Security" in order to make a contribution to the debate over such strategies and security policy structures with a focus on the causes of conflicts. How can existing approaches to collective security such as APSA be supplemented or changed in order to make them more efficient and sustainable?

The FES offices for Peace and Security, Cooperation with the African Union and the country offices in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon/Central Africa, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal and South Sudan are all participating in the project.

The African Media Barometer

With the African Media Barometer (AMB), the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung offers an acknowledged instrument for analysing and assessing the media landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa for many years. The African Media Barometer moreover serves as a lobbying instrument as it points towards reforms needed in the media sector.

How does the African Media Barometer work?

The African Media Barometer (AMB) performs a wide-ranging analysis and assessment of national media landscapes in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. In contrast to other media indexes, the AMB is based on a self-assessment of national media landscapes by domestic experts on the basis of indicators derived from African protocols and declarations, in particular from the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa (2002) of the African Commission for Human and Peoples‘ Rights.

Analysis and assessment of national media landscapes is performed by a National Panel made up of 10 to 12 persons, half of them coming from the field of media (media creators, media researchers and owners) and half from other areas of civil society (human rights organisations, trade unions, churches, etc.). The assessment is performed on the basis of 39 indicators broken down into four areas:

(1) Freedom of speech and media

(2) Media diversity and independence of different media

(3) Regulation of broadcasting and public broadcasters

(4) Media in practice and qualitative standards

The results of the AMB are published in the form of a country report. The AMB has already been carried out in over 30 countries. You can find additional information and an updated list of AMB country reports on the FES media project website.

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Africa: Project countries

Together with its partners the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung advocates the values of social democracy in 20 offices in Africa.


In the wake of seventeen years of military dictatorship, in 1989 Benin became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to undergo a peaceful, self-determined transition to a pluralistic, democratic state.

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Since its independence in 1966, Botswana has been able to make great economic and social strides under stable political conditions. But over the last 15 years, development has slowed down.

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The Central African country of Cameroon has been confronted with growing conflicts and increasing political and social tensions since 2016.

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Côte d'Ivoire

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) fosters the training of junior democratic leaders and creates space for the political dialogue between the various camps.

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DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is rich in natural resources, but the majority of the population does not benefit from them due to mismanagement, internal conflicts, instability and a lack of state presence. The country's current challenges include weak state structures and ongoing fighting, particularly in the east.

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Ethiopia was long regarded as a stable, capable and development-orientated state in the Horn of Africa. The country also played an important geostrategic role in the Horn of Africa and as a security partner of the West in the fight against terrorism. Ethiopia is now increasingly a source of insecurity in the Horn of Africa.

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In spite of deficits in democracy and widespread corruption, Ghana has been on a politically stable trajectory since the launch of political reforms in 1991/92.

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With the proclamation of a new constitution in 2010, the long-standing struggle for democratisation in Kenya had reached an important milestone. However, the often highly controversial elections that have taken place since then have repeatedly revealed Kenya's political challenges.

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Since it became independent from France in 1960, Madagascar has experienced three phases of watershed political change and the founding of four republics and has not achieved any lasting consensus over the design of the government system down to the present day.

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Mali was long regarded as a model democracy in West Africa. However, the multidimensional crisis since 2012/2013 has revealed the country's instability.

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The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has been working in Maputo since 1984. Together with its partners in trade unions, politics, civil society and academia, it works on democratic participation, gender justice, sustainable development and fair income distribution.

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The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has been working in Windhoek since 1989. Together with its partners in political parties, trade unions, civil society and academia, FES actively contributes to the dialogue on reconciliation, to strengthening political participation and a socially and gender just economic development.

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Nigeria is confronted with massive socioeconomic problems, while the security situation remains tense in large stretches of the country.

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Rwanda's political system and the country's politics are still strongly influenced by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and its effects. The goals of a consensus-oriented social order are inherent in the state structure.

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Senegal is considered an anchor of stability and a model democracy in the Sahel region, which is often characterized by instability. The country has until now always experienced peaceful transitions of power without military coups and is an important partner of the international community in the region.

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South Africa

As a member of the G20 and the wider BRICS state group, South Africa plays a key role in North-South relations and, despite recent differences over Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and the Middle East conflict, is an important partner for Germany and Europe in their commitment to democracy, human rights and a rules-based world order.

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South Sudan

South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Power struggles within the governing party escalated in 2013, leading to an outbreak of violence that quickly took on an ethnic dimension, hitting the civil population particularly hard.

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The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has been active in Tanzania since 1968. Since then, it has been cooperating with state institutions, civil society organisations, labour unions and the media.

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Even though the multi-party system in Uganda was formally reinstalled in 2006 following decades of dictatorship and civil war, the country lacks independent actors and an efficient law enforcement system.

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In the wake of the first peaceful transition in power in Zambia in 1991 through the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), hopes for political reform were quickly dashed. The government acted in an increasingly authoritarian manner, attempting to make up for a lack of democratic legitimation with stronger curbs and restrictions on civil society and trade unions.

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The FES office in Zimbabwe works with local partners and supports progressive actors in trade unions and civil society. Its activities focus on promoting gender justice, socio-ecological transformation, youth work and political participation.

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