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Image courtesy of Panos Pictures. Adolphus Opara
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures. Adolphus Opara

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

The NDC candidate turned around the campaign after his predecessor’s death; now he has to deliver on his promise of sweeping improvements to governance

GHANA

The democracy question

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Soro clouds economic revival

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa has had more political drama and economic change, much of it pointing in a positive direction, than any other continent in 2012. Successful, peaceful elections have strengthened democracy in Ghana and Sierra Leone and consolidated political pluralism in Liberia and Zambia. Having overthrown dictatorships, the people of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are now trying to negotiate new constitutions, which pits secular liberals against Islamists. The pushback against authoritarianism – secular or theocratic – suggests North Africa’s revolutions have deeper roots than many thought.

Just as transformative is the wave of natural resource, agricultural and retail investment, even if some cheerleaders ignore unpalatable side effects. Africa’s civic activists stress the need for governments to get higher tax and royalties and negotiate more local processing. Watch Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania – all learning lessons from other resource-rich economies.

Young Africans are more literate than their parents but more unemployed. Governments must encourage, not fight, the informal sector, the biggest employer in most countries. Investment in education has to rise steeply: almost half the world’s children without formal education are in Africa. Those figures, along with the national crises in Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, show the formidable agenda ahead but African governments and people are better placed than ever to tackle it.

KENYA

Shotgun wedding season

With barely three months to go before the general elections, the 4 December deadline on pre-poll deals forced Kenya’s promiscuous political class into a flurry of shotgun weddings. Which of the two major coalitions hastily formed during a long night of matchmaking will prevail is impossible to predict: the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), led by Raila Oginga Odinga, or the Jubilee Alliance under Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and William Samoei arap Ruto.

MOZAMBIQUE

Rift risk over gas laws

Preparations are now well under way for a liquefied natural gas plant to handle Mozambique’s massive offshore gas deposits. The Instituto Nacional de Petróleo has proposed a bill to modify the Petroleum Law of 2001. The draft law respects existing contracts and is intended to govern regulations for the new LNG plant, as well as the issuing of new exploration and production licences. There is no date yet for a new round of bidding but it will probably take place in the middle of next year. The LNG plant, which is to be built at Palluna, could have as many as ten trains.

MALI

Captain Sanogo strikes back

The appearance of a shaken Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra on state television just before dawn on 11 December proffering apologies to the Malian people along with his resignation marks the return to political pre-eminence of Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo. It also means more delays for the international efforts to wrest the three northern regions from the control of jihadists.

MALI

Ructions over reconquest plan

Growing divisions among Mali’s politicians and military, as well as among foreign powers, will delay plans for an internationally backed intervention to oust jihadists from the north and may even cause the plan to be abandoned. The significance of these splits emerged this week after an ill-tempered debate at the United Nations Security Council on 10 December when France and the United States differed openly about the schedule and structure of the intervention.

EGYPT

A country polarised

If the referendum on Egypt’s new constitution goes ahead as planned on 15 December and wins a majority, it will mark a political victory for President Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. It would also come at a considerable cost in lives lost and property damaged since his 22 November constitutional declaration paved the way for fast-track approval of the draft constitution. More fundamentally, it has confirmed non-Islamists’ belief that the Brotherhood aims to establish a new authoritarian state system and one based on imposing the MB version of Sharia (Islamic law) on all aspects of society.

EGYPT

Tax threat to IMF deal

The uproar caused by President Mohamed Mursi’s declaration of full powers on 22 November threatens Egypt’s efforts to mobilise funds from the International Monetary Fund and other donors to lay the basis for economic recovery.

TUNISIA

Wilting jasmine

Many of the post-revolution politicians are gaining a reputation for fiddling while parts of Tunisia burn. Riots in late November and early December in Siliana saw over 250 protestors and 72 police injured. This provided a bitter reminder that the problems that triggered the Jasmine Revolution in January 2011 have not been resolved. The economy is stagnant, with several key sectors contracting, and living conditions for many people are getting worse. Daily demonstrations in Tunis underline the growing discontent with the coalition. Led by the Islamist Hizb Ennahda, it includes the Congrès pour la république (CPR), led by interim President Moncef Marzouki, and Mustapha Ben Jaafar’s Ettakol/Forum démocratique pour le travail et les libertés.

LIBYA

Unity under strain

Having departed from the overly ambitious roadmap set out in 2011’s Constitutional Declaration, Libya’s elected representatives cannot decide on a replacement and are mired in indecision. The consequence is that federalist parties (those wanting central government to be weak and the provinces to be strong) and Islamists are becoming more influential than the discredited central government. The governing structures cannot so far overcome internal divisions and security threats, which are growing as a result.

BLUE LINES

THE INSIDE VIEW

Africa has had more political drama and economic change, much of it pointing in a positive direction, than any other continent in 2012. Successful, peaceful elections have strengthened democracy in Ghana and Sierra Leone and consolidated political pluralism in Liberia and Zambia. Having overthrown dictatorships, the people of...

SUDAN

Sadig calls for regime change

The Prime Minister that the National Islamic Front (NIF) overthrew in 1989, El Sadig el Sideeg el Mahdi, sees a chance to win back power as conflict deepens at the core of the Khartoum regime. He may have left it too late: other opposition forces are strengthening their positions and growing more militant.

Pointers  

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma leaves nothing to chance

President Jacob Zuma has sent 40 hand-picked intelligence operatives to the African National Congress’s 16-20 December conference in Mangaung, we hear. They will be on the look-out for anyone intent on disruption but their real mission is to identify and ...

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