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Published 10th January 2014

Vol 55 No 1


Nigeria

Economy billowing, politics floundering

NIGERIA: Palm trees silhouetted against a cloudy sky. Robin Hammond / Panos
NIGERIA: Palm trees silhouetted against a cloudy sky. Robin Hammond / Panos

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

Rip-roaring growth, youth unemployment and deepening schisms in the political class will make for an eventful year before the 2015 elections

With some 170 million people, 250 different languages and an economy about to overtake South Africa’s as the continent’s biggest, Nigeria is in many ways a symbol for the rest of Africa in 2014. Its economy is blowing in all directions, many of them eagerly followed by foreign investors in pursuit of fabled hyper-profits, but its politics are more contested than ever, often in the most damaging way. President Goodluck Jonathan is at war with his own People’s Democratic Party: five state governors have defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), as have 37 members of parliament, depriving the PDP of a majority (AC Vol 54 No 25, Presidential letter bombs and Vol 55 No 1, Goodluck Jonathan loses the numbers game). Now the talk in Abuja is of senators defecting to the opposition, which would allow it to scupper what remains of the President’s legislative programme.

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Zuma fights for his job

April's elections will be more about the standing of President Zuma than about loyalty to the governing ANC

There is no serious doubt that the governing African National Congress will easily win the general election likely to be held in the last two weeks of April. The real question will...


The MPLA sticks to its course

Secretive and fearful of change, the ruling circle sees no reason to rock the boat with reforms. New major projects are likely to suffer delay

Whether or not the speculation about President José Eduardo dos Santos being in poor health turns out to be correct, 2014 could be the year that his successor is named. His ...



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THE INSIDE VIEW

Happy New Year and welcome to the first part of our annual look at the year ahead in African politics, security and economics. It will be a year of big drama – on the football pitch in the World Cup in Brazil, where Ghana and Nigeria will challenge Latin America’s supremacy, and on the silver screen, with two blockbuster films starring African actors tipped for Osca...

Happy New Year and welcome to the first part of our annual look at the year ahead in African politics, security and economics. It will be a year of big drama – on the football pitch in the World Cup in Brazil, where Ghana and Nigeria will challenge Latin America’s supremacy, and on the silver screen, with two blockbuster films starring African actors tipped for Oscars. Good news on the medical front: clinical trials start this year in Europe and the USA of Mosquirix, a vaccine offering protection against malaria, still one of the main causes of death and debilitation in Africa.

The more visible dramas in 2014 will be the political shocks, with elections in Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa: all of them could surprise the ruling presidents and parties. Two post-Arab Spring states – Libya and Tunisia – are due to vote on new constitutions and organise fresh elections, too. The political heat is also rising in Angola, Congo-Kinshasa, Nigeria and Sudan as leaders mull their next move amid national and regional pressure.

Elsewhere, tensions have boiled over. At the end of January, leaders head to Addis Ababa for the African Union summit. Despite calls from Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to focus on agricultural development, the meeting will be dominated by conflicts in Central African Republic and South Sudan. See the next edition of Africa Confidential for more country reports and analysis of macro and micro trends in African economies.

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Chickens come home to roost

The thread that bound President Kenyatta together with his deputy Ruto is fraying. There are growing worries about terrorism

Three questions loom over the country in 2014. Will President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto win their confrontation with the International Criminal Court? Will the...


The political stakes on YouTube

The political issues in dispute are substantial, as can be seen from the leading dissidents who organised a press conference on 6 December in Juba. The conference, which can be see...


Consolidation is the goal

The political calendar is crowded as the forces that took control of the state and ousted Mursi seek to strengthen their position

Egyptian electors will be called to the ballot box at least three times in 2014, to approve the new constitution, elect a president and choose a single-chamber parliament. This wil...


Coup bid raises alarm

December's attempt to seize power was bound to fail but Kabila still needs to worry about the festering underlying causes

Kinshasa awoke on 29 December to the sound of gunfire. It was a classic attack, in the manner of so many past African coups d’état, on the three keystones of power: th...


Staking it all on survival

This year will be about political survival for the regime and Omer el Beshir; and physical survival for many Sudanese trapped in war and poverty

2014 is constitutionally designated as President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir’s last full year in power. The year will be devoted to trying to ensure that Field Marshal Omer e...


Reconciliation and repression

Preventing ethnic conflict will be a major priority, but special interests threaten to interfere

Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta has passed the key electoral tests. He holds a decisive presidential mandate and the National Assembly is in place (AC Vol 54 No 17, IBK's agenda). Yet ...


The politics of health

President Sata’s physical condition is the factor on which all else hangs, especially the sharpening divisions in his party

Age and ill health will restrict President Michael Chilufya Sata’s public appearances this year, fuelling speculation that he will not be fit enough to contest the 2016 gener...


From power struggle to uprising

The clashes between rival factions in the SPLA that started in the capital on 15 December are spreading alarmingly fast

The capture of Bor, about 100 kilometres north of Juba, on 18 December by troops loyal to General Peter Gatdet Yaka showed the political and military fragility of South Sudan. The ...


The state cracks

Big political changes will be needed to relaunch Africa’s newest country and bring it back from the abyss

A long road lies ahead before the mediators can secure a ceasefire between South Sudan’s warring factions, let alone embark on serious negotiations to consolidate a new polit...


Success needs succession

Mugabe may be approaching his 90th birthday but that does not make the naming of a successor more likely

The only certainty for Zimbabwe in 2014 is that the succession issue will not be resolved so long as President Robert Mugabe is still in control. It is widely agreed that no econom...


Mines and militias set mood

Kabila may leave office in 2016 or seek a third term: both threaten more political mayhem. Militia threats remain while Katangese mines boom

The main challenge this year will be to stabilise the political climate and consolidate the constitution. The European Union and the Carter Centre both found the 2011 elections not...


Ruling party conference ignores crisis

ZANU-PF ducked the succession issue at its conference but the drift is damaging the confidence of businesses and people alike

The Mashonaland West provincial capital, Chinoyi, got all dressed up for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front conference on 13-14 December but the deliberations prod...