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Published 26th January 2018

Vol 59 No 2


Two steps forward…

AFRICA'S TRADE, BUDGET AND DEBT • Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018
AFRICA'S TRADE, BUDGET AND DEBT • Chart Copyright © Africa Confidential 2018

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Earnings may increase but sluggish growth looms for the continent's big players and the danger of a debt crunch is increasing

Economies across Africa will grow haltingly, by about 3% on average in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, according to the latest World Bank forecasts. And the International Monetary Fund warns that in extreme cases such as Nigeria, servicing the debt is consuming more than 60% of government revenues. The latest forecasts from the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank differ on the precise numbers for 2018 but broadly agree that export commodity prices will strengthen and inflation will slow.

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Big change, no fanfare

The ANC's new leader is preparing the ground for his team in government and some radical policy shifts

Cyril Ramaphosa, with a mixture of determination and pragmatism, has embarked on a year of sweeping changes in his party and the government that it runs. Since winning the presiden...


Tunis fiddles as revolt grows

While politicians focus on electoral alliances, the economy remains stuck and marginalised communities are angry

After taking office amid high hopes that technocratic ministers could deliver results, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's increasingly beleaguered government is confronted by yet anot...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

For the past four decades there has been a recurring motif in Nigerian politics. A new government takes power on the crest of popular approval but soon falls short of expectations.

The sequence started with Shehu Shagari's National Party of Nigeria government, which was then overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari in December 1983. Buhari's regime was overthrown...

For the past four decades there has been a recurring motif in Nigerian politics. A new government takes power on the crest of popular approval but soon falls short of expectations.

The sequence started with Shehu Shagari's National Party of Nigeria government, which was then overthrown by General Muhammadu Buhari in December 1983. Buhari's regime was overthrown in a palace coup by General Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985. A popular uprising followed the annulling of an election in 1993, and General Sani Abacha seized power. After the restoration of constitutional rule, Olusegun Obasanjo was elected president, handing over in 2007 to Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, who died in 2010, leaving his Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to take over. By 2014, popular opinion had moved decisively against Jonathan and he was overwhelmingly defeated by Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

On each occasion, Obasanjo, in his role as a 'founding father', has published an open letter criticising the incumbent and calling for change. And change has duly happened. His letter of 24 January urging Buhari not to seek re-election next year continues the theme. So far, the response from officials in Abuja has been muted irritation but activists in the governing party are likely to take it much further, given Obasanjo's influence. If nothing else, it has opened up the debate about the country's political system, the quality of governance, and accountability.

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El Sisi's shrinking circle

The President sacked his spy chief a day before announcing his re-election bid. The narrowing of his inner circle betrays jitters

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi's office announced the departure of Khaled Fawzy as head of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) on 18 January, the day before the President formal...


Lungu's costly power play

Extending his time in office is the President's chief priority although a debt crisis looms amid volatile party realignments

Whether or not President Edgar Lungu manages to convince the Constitutional Court that he is entitled to a further term in office when his current one ends in 2020, his determinati...


Weah's known unknowns

The new leader is the first civilian president to win a peaceful transfer of power in seven decades. Other 'firsts' lie ahead

George Oppong Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change won such a resounding victory in Liberia's delayed run-off elections on 26 December that his opponent, Joseph Nyuma...


Cycle of broken deals

Ceasefire violations, threats of sanctions and censorship in Juba will accompany the fighting in the absence of outside intervention

As the New Year dawned, diplomats, peacekeepers and humanitarian officials from all corners of the globe silently breathed sighs of relief that the Christmas ceasefire appeared to ...



Pointers

Obiang foils coup

The details of an attempted coup against President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo over the Christmas period remain unclear amid contradictory reports from government and other sourc...


Refugee protest in Tel Aviv

Hundreds of asylum-seekers protested outside the Rwandan embassy in Tel Aviv on 22 January, drawing unwelcome attention to Israel's programme of deporting mainly Eritrean and Sudan...


Socialists sack Sall

The trial of the mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, is tearing Senegal's oldest political party apart. On 30 December the Parti socialiste (PS) expelled 65 members for breaching discipl...