"This paper summarises the observations and findings of a comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions (ECs) to the strengthening of democracy in West Africa, carried out in 2009–2010. The study was conducted in six countries, namely the Republic of Benin (Benin), Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It has been supplemented by findings from the Third African Governance Report (AGR III) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), for which the author prepared two background papers, respectively ‘Election Administration and Management in Africa’ and ‘Political Architecture: State-Building and Diversity’. The study was prompted and informed by one major socio-political trend in West Africa. This is that ever since the mid-1980s a high degree of importance has been attached to the redesign of election management and processes as democratic mechanisms for managing diversity in the sub-region. Those new designs, and the governance architecture fashioned out of them, are part of a broader constitutional and political reform movement aimed at strengthening democracy as a way to promote sustainable socio-economic development in the sub-region, as in Africa generally."