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Published 20th January 2017

Vol 58 No 2


Global shocks, local differences

Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2017
Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2017

Smaller countries outpace giants such as Nigeria and South Africa but progress on regional integration and industrialisation is lacking

Economic conditions in Africa this year might best be symbolised by the new railway boom, over a century after the failure of a colonial plan for a route between Cairo and Cape Town. Today's routes are less ambitious. Instead of colonial expansion, they are a belated attempt at integrating the continent's 54 national economies and fostering intra-continental trade. The railways are usually built by Chinese engineering firms, whose costings and financing deals undercut all rivals for now. Yet China's economic slowdown and diminished appetite for African commodities is held up as a leading cause of lacklustre growth across Africa over the past two years.

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Museveni's marathon

The President is hoping for a calmer year than last but his latest plans to stay on and hand over to his son could yet stir unrest

President Yoweri Museveni will use 2017 to launch a constitutional review that many suspect is designed to ensure the indefinite continuation of his presidency. A new Constitutiona...


The South fails the North

The government is disappointing many in its failure to meet the challenges of separatism and jihadism

Its contours recently redrawn by the local elections and the nomination of interim authorities in northern regions, Mali's political landscape will become even more complex in comi...



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THE INSIDE VIEW

In this edition of Africa Confidential, our correspondents complete their tour d'horizon of the developments and people who will shape 2017 on the continent. Throughout this edition, we trace the effects of the changing international backdrop, particularly the political changes in Europe and the United States, which are likely to reduce their involvement in Africa. Tha...
In this edition of Africa Confidential, our correspondents complete their tour d'horizon of the developments and people who will shape 2017 on the continent. Throughout this edition, we trace the effects of the changing international backdrop, particularly the political changes in Europe and the United States, which are likely to reduce their involvement in Africa. That means a proportionately greater role for the bigger Asian countries, as the opening article makes clear.

It is also likely to lead to a more robust pan-African strategy by the continent's biggest economies for cross-border integration and consolidation of the regional economic groupings. There is no agreed blueprint across the continent but senior officials in Southern, East and West Africa are stepping up plans to open their markets for wholly pragmatic commercial reasons: a response to investors' demands for scale.

That could have its corollary in political developments in West Africa. The decision by the region's leaders to face down Gambian President Yahya Jammeh's attempts to hang on to power after losing the election in December is a litmus test for the continent. Regional leaders say they will cease to recognise Jammeh as President on 19 January.

The next steps will depend on Jammeh's response but the omens are not good. Although most of his senior ministers have resigned, Jammeh has declared a state of emergency and shows every sign of using force to stop Adama Barrow from assuming his mandate.
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Out with the Ould

The promise of the President's retirement will dominate politics as the opposition seeks to create a broad alliance

Politics in Mauritania could be radically reshaped in the months ahead if talks between the opposition Forum national pour la démocratie et l'unité (FNDU) and the grassroots anti-s...


Vote row threatens economy

Fallout from the disputed presidential election is affecting an already deteriorating economic outlook

Two crises will dominate Gabon's political landscape in 2017: President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba's legitimacy as President and the economy. Bongo is badly tarnished both at home and a...


Paris sends Sahel signal

With US policy on Africa still a cipher and the UK in retreat from Europe, France reaffirms its security commitments in the region

More than 30 African leaders meet today (13 January) in Bamako, marking President François Hollande's farewell to the continent and a restatement of France's commitment to fight j...


Electoral test for Condé

February's local elections will gauge Condé's popularity. The economy will stay in the doldrums

Guinea will finally hold its local elections in February, almost seven years late. It is the first major test of the governing coalition of President Alpha Condé since his relative...


Benkirane's 'bras de fer'

The clash between the Palace and the Islamist PJD will shape politics as much as the kingdom's efforts to rejoin the AU

The struggle over who will join Morocco's next coalition government has continued into the new year and could continue for some time yet. The coalition is again to be led by the 'm...


Hery's hard line

The three-cornered fight between the president and his predecessors looks set to continue, and with it yet more instability and conflict

Just when Malagasy politics appeared to be edging towards a more consensual mood, with the last-minute passage of the 2017 budget and a distinctly upbeat December donors' meeting i...


Development state digs in

The political crisis shows no sign of abating but the opposition remains in disarray. The economic cost of the turmoil is rising

The government says that it is listening to the people and is considering reform in the wake of the violence and unrest in Amhara and Oromia for much of 2016. Yet the state of emer...


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