Thursday, 7 January 2016

Africa in 2016

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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