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Published 6th January 2012

Vol 53 No 1


The long march speeds up

Cairo: Young female protestors, among thousands gathered in Tahrir Square. Photographer: Teun Voeten
Cairo: Young female protestors, among thousands gathered in Tahrir Square. Photographer: Teun Voeten

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Stronger economies, better education and technology are driving more political change and unrest

Expect turbulence. As well as sound advice from pilots to passengers on aircraft taking off from Kisangani to Kinshasa in Congo-Kinshasa, such warnings look apposite for the year ahead in Africa. There are no signs that the pace of political and economic change on the continent will slacken. The reverse looks true with more than 30 presidential and parliamentary elections over the next 12 months, and rising social unrest of four of the biggest economies: Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa and Kenya.


What lies beyond Tahrir

The revolution will remain under threat from the military’s grip on political power, the best guarantee of its privileges

Clashes between a military bereft of strategic vision and an ascendant Islamist majority in Parliament and on the streets will dominate politics this year. Minorities such as liber...


Subsidy cuts and crony capitalists

Religious and political arguments will dominate discussion in Cairo’s cafés this year, but more mundane matters of economic policy, interest rates and taxation levels may do more t...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa Confidential begins 2012 with a special 16-page edition forecasting the most significant developments in the coming year in a dozen of Africa’s most important – or most volatile – nations. Our correspondents have searched out the key elements driving political and economic change in the coming twelve months. From some surprisingly negative consequences of the new Kenyan constitution, to an unexpectedly strong bounceback for the Ivorian economy, the way forward is by no means obv...

Africa Confidential begins 2012 with a special 16-page edition forecasting the most significant developments in the coming year in a dozen of Africa’s most important – or most volatile – nations. Our correspondents have searched out the key elements driving political and economic change in the coming twelve months. From some surprisingly negative consequences of the new Kenyan constitution, to an unexpectedly strong bounceback for the Ivorian economy, the way forward is by no means obvious. Nor is the political ‘Spring’ exclusively ‘Arab’; its effects are still spreading southward and proselytising the democratic message.

Early this year, a vigorous election in Senegal may well topple the Wade dynasty, while in Mali a three-cornered fight for the succession to Ahmed Toumani Touré should crown a series of peaceful transitions. Sierra Leone and Ghana go to the polls later in 2012 in what promise to be fair fights, but the coming Angolan poll presages no more than a rubber stamp of the MPLA’s ascendancy. Claims of fraud in the re-election of President Joseph Kabila in Congo-Kinshasa in December will keep pro-democracy activists busy.

Gambia and Congo-Brazzaville will hold questionable elections largely ignored by the African Union, Commonwealth and La Francophonie. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, the polls will involve hard struggles over crucial issues. Whether fixed, flawed, or honest across the board, voter choice is starting to embed itself as the main agent of change.

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A vote on unfinished business

Rival politicians in the power-sharing government are battling for votes but have failed to deliver on their promises of land reform

The grand coalition staggers on, costly and unwieldy. All the top politicians and most of the contenders for the presidential election due in December 2012 are part of it, so it is...


The future is military

The main question this year is how far Khartoum will pursue militarism to compensate for its loss of the South

Billboards in Khartoum celebrate the regime’s military prowess and its increasingly bellicose tactics against the newly independent South. Massive pictures of the President, Field ...


A year of living dangerously

Northern and Delta insurgents, oil companies and angry citizens threaten President Jonathan’s reform plans

For a year that was meant to presage Nigeria’s great economic leap forward, 2012 could hardly have opened more inauspiciously. First came President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration ...


Getting the vote right

The straight-talking director of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, Kwadwo Afari-Djan, and his team have organised five multiparty elections since 1992, each one more credible than the ...


Economic jitters as Tshwane looks East

Foreign investors will find the political climate discouraging. Exports, apart from gold, are likely to slow. The fall of the rand against the US dollar will help some manufacturer...


Votes, mines and money

Koroma’s anti-corruption campaign has wavered with special deals for favoured companies. Whoever wins the elections will be short of cash

The presidential and legislative elections due in November 2012 will be close-run, pitting President Ernest Bai Koroma and the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) against Julius Maada Bio ...


Downturn hits election agenda

For a decade, President Mwai Kibaki’s government has focused on growth and efficiency, and it has largely achieved its goals. Yet as Kibaki faces his final year in office, people a...


Rough roads ahead

The problems of a new state plague South Sudan but the biggest challenges are from the old state to the north. South Sudan and north Sudan now celebrate Independence in different h...


How the economy defies politics

Insulated from political chaos, this year’s budget assumes a gross domestic product growth rate of 7.2%. The International Monetary Fund reckons it may be just under 7%. Early in t...


A race against time

The probability of President Mugabe scuppering constitutional reforms and calling a snap election is firming up

Both President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) want el...


The war goes regional

Intervention by Kenya and Ethiopia will drive Al Shabaab from its strongholds but won’t produce a viable government

Military successes by African forces against the Islamist militia Al Haraka al Shabaab al Mujahideen have changed the dynamics of the conflict. However, they are far from tackling ...


One election, two countries

The new dividing line in the country is between those who believe that Joseph Kabila won the presidency and those who don’t

President Joseph Kabila’s year will start with a strenuous effort to re-establish credibility. The official results of the 28 November elections gave him 48.95% of the vote, agains...


Great expectations

The 2012 elections may delay, but will not stop, the resource-driven progress towards prosperity

Once again, politics could shape Ghana’s economic future. The national elections due on 7 December 2012 will determine which party is to manage the transition to a medium-income de...


Zuma goes for broke

Ructions in the ANC and the President’s grim fight to hold on to power will have economic as well as political consequences

The election that matters is the one within the governing African National Congress, whose December conference in Mangaung in the Free State will pick its presidential candidate fo...


A pause in economic progress

The early economic successes of the power-sharing government are sputtering (AC Vol 52 No 25). A decade after the land reform battles, agriculture will be the main source of growth...