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Published 8th January 2016

Vol 57 No 1


New ideas, harder times and a few surprises

Year of elections: a woman has her thumb nail marked with indelible ink to prove that she has voted. Pic: Schalk van Zuydam / AP/Press Association Images
Year of elections: a woman has her thumb nail marked with indelible ink to prove that she has voted. Pic: Schalk van Zuydam / AP/Press Association Images

After a decade of strong growth, new economic pressures are prompting protests and political change

When international conferences have to devote an extra day to crafting upbeat resolutions, you know hard times are coming. In December, over 180 delegations went an extra 100 metres to produce a hopeful-sounding communiqué to wind up the Climate Change conference in Paris. For all the skilful diplomacy on show, Africa didn't get the cast-iron commitments it was seeking on funds for the proposed US$100 billion a year climate change adjustment fund. Nor did it see any deluge of investment in solar power projects in the world's sunniest continent.

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Big tests beckon for Buhari

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari. Pic: Manish Swarup / AP/Press Association Images

The country's new broom has to rebuild the economy and face down Boko Haram against the background of a depleted treasury

Fortunately for Muhammadu Buhari, who still harbours deep frustration with partisan politicking, his agenda in 2016 will be dominated by the issues on which he is most engaged – ec...

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Power cuts may sway polls

After two near electoral misses, Nana Akufo-Addo has got the wind in his sails ahead of November's elections

On the face of it, a shrinking economy, a crippling power crisis and a string of corruption scandals will strongly favour the opposition in presidential and parliamentary elections...



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THE INSIDE VIEW

We start 2016 with our annual forecast of political, economic and security developments over the coming year, to complement our usual look in the rear view mirror. We concur with the view of the American baseball star Yogi Berra, who died in September, that: '…it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.’ That said, we think it's important to look both at the emerging context and the political scenarios that could play out across ...

We start 2016 with our annual forecast of political, economic and security developments over the coming year, to complement our usual look in the rear view mirror. We concur with the view of the American baseball star Yogi Berra, who died in September, that: '…it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.’ That said, we think it's important to look both at the emerging context and the political scenarios that could play out across the diverse 55 countries that make up Africa.

This special issue looks forward in Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique and eleven others. It's another election year with important votes in Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, Congo-Kinshasa and South Africa, and fresh political challenges in many other countries. The economic backdrop will be the toughest for more than a decade: the sharp fall in commodity prices, which hits oil exporters hardest, mainly linked to China's economic slowdown but already driving finance ministers to borrow and tax more.

Harsher economic conditions have prompted some governments to revert to authoritarian tactics, reminiscent of the one-party state era. Yet now these are crashing up against far better organised and technologically savvy civic activists who are demanding far more accountability from government. Expect to see some important tests of that power in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Nigeria this year.

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Strong man, strong growth

Kagame is set to ignore all his critics, the US included, and persist with his authoritarian political and economic course

The United States declared itself 'deeply disappointed' at President Paul Kagame's January decision to stand for a third term in office, but he rapidly dismissed all concerns in a ...


Make or break for Nyusi

The President faces a recalcitrant party, a highly aggressive Renamo and an economy beset by crisis

If President Filipe Nyusi thought 2015 would be his toughest year, 2016 may prove him wrong. Mozambique remains at a crossroads, with peace and perhaps prosperity in one direction,...


2017 polls cast long shadow

The old protagonists are readying themselves for another electoral battle as concerns about security and corruption escalate

Politics this year will be dominated by the faltering economy and partisan positioning ahead of the next general election, now scheduled for 8 August 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta...


Issoufou the insouciant

The Islamist threat secures foreign support but the President is courting danger by ignoring widespread discontent

The coming presidential election in February and March dominates all political calculations in Niamey at the moment. At least half a dozen candidates are already in the running, wi...


ADO looks ahead

Reconciling the nation, purging the army and restoring a stable political culture are the President's big challenges in his second term

President Alassane Dramane Ouattara's second term in office will be about bestowing a legacy of lasting political stability and economic reconstruction when he leaves office in 202...


The survival imperative

Khartoum will rely on its security system and bailouts from the Gulf to maintain power and fend off pressure for political change

The key word in Sudan this year is 'survival'. It is the prime focus both for the embattled National Congress Party regime and for an ever hungrier population. If the opposition is...


Division all around

Special interests hamper the federal project, while a split in Al Shabaab threatens devastating consequences for Kenya

This was supposed to be the year Somalia moved to a national electoral register and elected a president. Instead, the scene is set for rising tension among the 'regional entities' ...


Investment and insecurity

Egypt will attempt to lay the basis for strong investment-led growth but will grapple with hard currency shortages and violent opposition

The election of a new Parliament at the end of 2015 marked the culmination of a political transition mapped out in July 2013 by Abdel Fatah Khalil el Sisi when, as army Commander, ...


President on probation

The new leader will have to stick to his big promises. Society has acquired a taste for justice and scrutiny and is in no mood for excuses

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré received a solid mandate from the electorate in November and the election received a clean bill of health (AC Vol 56 No 24). A banker and one-t...


Sall tries to look strong

Despite the success of some development projects, politics is stagnant and the economy still refuses to spring to life

On being elected in 2012, President Macky Sall promised to reduce the presidential term from seven to five years. His predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade, had said he would make that chang...


Political earthquakes ahead

The local polls will be this year's first arena of conflict and re-alignment as the ANC fights for survival and the President picks his successor

The opposition has smelt blood and aims to give the African National Congress its toughest run since majority rule arrived in 1994. The ANC may lose key cities, especially the fina...


An implausible government

This month, the warring factions are due to form an interim government but issues of money and the chain of command are unresolved

Two years after the outbreak of conflict between government and rebels, doubts still hang over the latest fragile peace agreement. All sides signed reluctantly under intense intern...


Rumblings among the rivals

The country may be stable and there are hopes of reforming the creaking system but the weak oil price gives the elite little room for manoeuvre

With Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and the presidency's favourite businessman, Ali Haddad, among those talking up an agenda for change, some diplomats and analysts see prospects...


Tough people, weak leader

Unless the President takes a much firmer grip, the year ahead will not see a breakthrough on the country's many crises

The portents are mixed. Despite the shock of November's murderous attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, there are some grounds for encouragement (AC Vol 56 No 24). Mali has d...