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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 11th January 2018

Multi-speed Africa in 2018

Blue Lines

In politics as in economics, 2018 will be the year of the variable-speed Africa, as our special survey of the year ahead makes clear. Sometimes, the sharp differences are between regions: high-growth economies in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya in the east compared with slow growth South Africa, Angola and Zimbabwe in the south. Sometimes, there are sharp differences within regions: Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal are growing strongly but Nigeria's forecast growth for the year barely exceeds population growth. Nigeria's lacklustre economic revival points to a continuing negative trend: some of the continent's biggest economies, such as Angola and Algeria, are chronically under-performing.

The political contrasts across Africa are sharper still. South Africans are following in minute detail the constitutional and judicial manoeuvring aimed at removing Jacob Zuma from the state presidency. In Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Nigeria, constitutional and electoral reform is on the table, even extending parliamentary oversight of presidents' spending. But in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and Libya, the contest for power is more about armed groups than amendments to the constitution. To that list must now be added Congo-Kinshasa, where President Kabila's obduracy is sparking several disparate rebellions, and Cameroon, where four decades of misrule are coming home to roost as rebellion takes hold in the country's western provinces.