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NIGERIA: Muhammadu Buhari – Pic: Jacob Silberberg / Panos
NIGERIA: Muhammadu Buhari – Pic: Jacob Silberberg / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The opposition is looking stronger but officials are sounding alarms about serious flaws in the election organisation

It has been a good month for the opposition All Progressives Congress. The APC's successful national convention in Lagos picked Muhammadu Buhari as it...

KENYA | INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

How the case was won

UGANDA

Central bank cracks whip

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Big economic and political changes are emerging in Africa after a decade of strong Asian demand for its resources and the highest growth levels since the 1960s. That economic strength has allowed many governments to buy off discontent in the cities without fundamental policy changes. As revenues fall and budgets tighten, shaky governments will face the wrath of the street. The mass demonstrations that forced Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré from office could prove a powerful warning.

Slumping oil and gas prices – bad news for Algeria, Angola and Nigeria as well as East Africa’s aspiring producers – will be good for other economies on the continent. It may also force reforms, such as subsidy cuts and more accountability in state energy companies. Wider trends – including the rebalancing of China’s mammoth economy and a new buoyancy in the United States – will also push African governments to change course as mineral and crop prices continue to fall. Resource nationalism may look an increasingly attractive option but finding the investment to develop the continent's reserves will become harder still.

For the biggest economies, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa, that means redoubling efforts for structural change, big investment in power and communications, and relaxing political controls on business. That is, reining in some of the most venal and short-termist crony capitalism. Smaller economies will have to speed up regional integration.

More generally, the risks and horrors of sidelining public health investment are highlighted by the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Less stark but just as significant is Africa’s deepening deficit in education and training compared to its Asian and South American counterparts.

SUDAN

The opposition shows a new political will

The armed and civilian oppositionists signing the unity accord known as 'Sudan Call' in Addis Ababa on 3 December quickly triggered serious reactions. Three days later, the Khartoum regime arrested two signatories of the accord and threatened to 'eradicate' the opposition.

SIERRA LEONE

Freetown under fire on Ebola

On 12 December, President Ernest Bai Koroma issued an edict banning all Christmas celebrations, especially the street festivals and masquerades for which Freetown is famous. On 25 December, soldiers will be deployed on the streets of the capital to enforce the ban. In Liberia, however, exactly four weeks earlier, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced that the goal was to ensure there were no new cases by Christmas Day. This marks a dramatic reversal of fortunes. With its apparently more robust state institutions, Sierra Leone appeared to be handling the crisis with greater confidence than Liberia.

ZIMBABWE

Exit Mujuru, enter Mnangagwa

It was only after the delegates had all trooped home from the ruling party's congress that President Robert Mugabe finally announced on 10 December his replacement for the purged Vice-President Joice Mujuru. Vilified and accused of treason and conspiracy to murder by politicians and the state media, Mujuru and her supporters in the cabinet were cast out of government and the Politburo.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE | LIBERIA

Uneasy peace on the border

United Nations' investigators have warned the UN Security Council that Ivorian and Liberian fighters opposed to Côte d'Ivoire's President Alassane Dramane Ouattara are likely to multiply in the run-up to his country's elections next October. They could also cause serious tension between the two neighbours. There were lethal attacks in February and May, centred on the Ivorian villages of Fete and Grabo in Bas-Sassandra District.

MOZAMBIQUE | GAS

Gas regime is getting there

The government has reached final agreement with Italy's ENI and the United States' oil company Anadarko over their liquefied natural gas projects offshore the northern province of Cabo Delgado. Maputo has made major concessions after fearing that no LNG would come on stream for another five years or more.

SOUTH AFRICA | ENERGY

The politics of power

Blackouts returned to major cities in November as the embattled Electricity Supply Commission began load-shedding for the second time this year. It is the latest drama in a torrid year for Eskom, which generates 95% of South Africa's electricity, and a further blow to the energy-hungry economy. The government appears to have few answers. The parastatal's Chief Executive Officer, Tshediso Matona, described Eskom as facing its 'most challenging position in living memory'. Supply will be 'constrained for the foreseeable future' as Eskom struggles to maintain its creaking generating plant and increase capacity, it said recently.

SOUTH AFRICA | ENERGY

Pick a power source

It is ironic that while Eskom battles to keep the lights on, planners have warned there is a risk of building too much new generating capacity. Uncertainty over South Africa's future electricity demand and how to meet it is supposed to be addressed objectively and dispassionately by the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-30.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Big economic and political changes are emerging in Africa after a decade of strong Asian demand for its resources and the highest growth levels since the 1960s. That economic strength has allowed many governments to buy off discontent in the cities without fundamental policy changes. As revenues fall and budgets tighten, shaky governments will face the wrath of the street. The mass demonstrations that forced Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaoré from office could prove a powerful warning.

Sl...

SOUTH AFRICA

How guns colonised politics

Political assassinations have risen to alarming proportions since the end of apartheid and are likely to continue, especially as new trades union rivalries emerge and the 2016 municipal elections approach. Faction-fighting was already intense within the African National Congress but it will go into overdrive as two new breakaway parties try to make inroads into the governing party's vote. Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters, already poised to do battle for the radical ANC vote, will soon be joined by the union-based political party to be formed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and its allies, now that NUMSA has been expelled from the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Pointers  

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Blé Goudé's bad day

On 11 December, the International Criminal Court confirmed charges of murder, rape and other inhumane acts against Charles Blé Goudé, 42, a former Ivorian militia leader and Youth Minister under the then President Laurent Gbagbo. The trial d...

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