Many African countries struggle with repeated episodes of conflict and difficulties to form stable governments. Prior scientific contributions have attributed these challenges to, for instance, the slave trade and to the artificial imposition of borders by colonial powers. Based on this history, many states are composed of a variety of distinct groups, sometimes with strong historical tensions between those groups. Our project aims to better understand the challenges of government formation and achieving compromises between different regional and ethno-linguistic (as per Ethnologue) groups in Africa. For that matter, we are gathering data on the composition of all African governments since independence of the respective states.
In addition to regional origin, we are interested in language as it is crucial for communication and often linked to deep-rooted cultural differences. By compiling a comprehensive database of government composition, we hope to gain important insights. Better understanding the challenges of government formation is crucial to achieve better policies, more intrusive institutions and hopefully more state stability.
Our approach to this challenge is to ask everyone who agrees about the importance of this topic and has some knowledge about particular countries and government members to contribute to the project. The aim of such a “citizen science” project is to make use of the dispersed knowledge that regular people possess, instead of relying solely on experts and their assessments. Any information that you possess, even if it is only about a few presidents, prime ministers or ministers important and helpful. The final project website will list all “citizen experts” who have contributed to the database to acknowledge your contribution. Moreover, we will hold a lottery for all contributors with the chance to win 10 Amazon vouchers (à $US 50) or 1 brand-new iPad 2018, 128 GB.