Of the 49 African countries that sent delegations to St Petersburg for the second Russia-Africa summit on 27–28 July, only 17 heads of state attended. This is down significantly from the first such summit in 2019 – and much lower than the number of leaders who attended the December 2022 US-Africa summit.
At the 2019 summit, Putin had sought to rekindle relations established during the Cold War and pledged to double trade with African countries to $40 billion in five years – but trade has stalled at $18 billion. This time, Moscow pledged to wipe out debts worth $23 billion and announced military cooperation agreements with over 40 African countries.… Seguir leyendo »
In Nigeria’s previous elections, votes were largely split between two parties – the APC of outgoing President Buhari and the PDP that held power from 1999 to 2015. This time, the 25 February vote saw four different presidential candidates win majorities at state level. President-elect Bola Tinubu received the least number of votes, and lowest winning percentage, of any victor in the Fourth Republic (1999 to date), taking just 36.6 per cent of the total votes cast. The runners-up have already started legal challenges to his win.
This increasingly fractured electoral landscape demonstrates the extent of Nigeria’s political divisions and makes assessing the accuracy of results announced by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) exceptionally difficult.… Seguir leyendo »
Africa’s economy was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 when a range of internal and external shocks struck such as adverse weather conditions, a devastating locust invasion, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – all of which worsened already rapidly-rising rates of inflation and borrowing costs.
Although the direct trade and financial linkages of Africa with Russia and Ukraine are small, the war has damaged the continent’s economies through higher commodity prices, higher food, fuel, and headline inflation.
The main impact is on the increasing likelihood of civil strife because of food and energy-fuelled inflation amid an environment of heightened political instability.… Seguir leyendo »
It says something of the UK that the incoming prime minister has ordered a rewrite of British foreign policy barely 18 months after the last one was published.
Liz Truss, who has become the fourth prime minister in Downing Street in six turbulent years, is not prone to risk aversion or offering bland reassurances. She made clear during the campaign for the Conservative leadership that she wants the 2021 Integrated Review redrawn with a far greater focus on combating the ‘growing malign influence’ of Russia and China. She has also pledged to increase defence spending from its current 2.1 per cent of GDP, to 2.7 per cent, and then to 3 per cent by 2030, which will include more support for the intelligence services and cyber security, a further £10 billion overall at a time when public finances are in dire straits.… Seguir leyendo »
The electoral contest in Angola – which officially started on 24 July – is fiercely competitive. An Afrobarometer survey in May found the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) party was trailing the governing Movement for Popular Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party by just seven percentage points, with around half of voters still undecided.
The ruling MPLA is headed by current president João Lourenço and the UNITA party is led by Adalberto Costa Júnior. A decision in May by the Constitutional Court to rule UNITA had to campaign on its own and not as part of an opposition coalition is a reminder that the MPLA capitalizes on its incumbency.… Seguir leyendo »
This meeting comes at a watershed moment, following President Macron’s announcement that the French are pulling their troops out of Mali. This follows a spate of coups in this region, successful in Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan, unsuccessful in Guinea Bissau and Niger.
However well-trained by the West some of these soldiers are, some are developing a putschist appetite. This has resulted in a moment of increasing self-doubt among some of the key Minusma – the United Nations (UN) Mali peacekeeping mission – contributors who are reviewing their options on how to respond to a widening Sahel crisis at a time that they are also having to forensically focus on Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
More than 20 low-income African countries were in debt distress or at risk of debt distress in autumn 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The good news is that while overall debt levels have generally risen, action requested by African governments from development finance institutions (DFIs) and multilateral lenders has meant many African countries have been able to support their economies without taking on too much additional private debt.
The IMF has also allocated Africa $33 billion in special drawing rights (SDRs), providing an immediate liquidity boost without adding to the debt portfolio.
At the same time, the G20’s short-term crisis management tool – the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) – has just ended and its intended replacement – the ‘Common Framework for Debt Treatment beyond the DSSI’ – has been implemented far more slowly than originally envisaged with only Chad, Ethiopia and Zambia engaging with it so far.… Seguir leyendo »
2022 is already shaping up to be a year of mixed fortunes for Africa if the events of this first week are a harbinger.
A possible arson attack of South Africa’s parliament, the military junta in Mali claiming it aspires to govern for five years, and prime minister Abdalla Hamdok resigning in Sudan – leaving the military in full-control again and General Burhan stating that Sudan is now working towards holding national elections in July 2023 – are all reminders of the fragility of African democracy.
Democratic advances and retreats
Since the start of the decade, there have been successful or attempted coups in Guinea, Mali, Sudan, Chad, and Niger.… Seguir leyendo »
Osama Bin-Laden’s masterminding of the US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in August 1998 saw more than 200 people killed – including a friend of mine – in nearly simultaneous truck bomb explosions linked to local supporters of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaeda.
Living in Nairobi at the time, I had been in the embassy to collect a US visa a couple of days before the attack but my Kenyan friend was not so lucky and was killed. Both US embassies were badly damaged – in Nairobi, a memorial park was constructed on the site with a new embassy built elsewhere while Dar es Salaam got a new highly fortified embassy with a monument to the victims in its grounds.… Seguir leyendo »
During his 9,860 days in office from 1964, Kenneth Kaunda fought for majority rule of his neighbours, hosting the headquarters of the ANC and SWAPO in Lusaka and after losing elections in 1991 he left office graciously and became a campaigner for HIV and youth engagement.
In 1960 Kaunda took over the leadership of the United National Independence party (UNIP) and it swept to victory in the independence election of 1964, ending Zambia’s legal status as a British protectorate. Almost immediately, Kaunda was confronted by the white Rhodesian rebels’ unilateral declaration of independence on 11 November 1965.
Independent Zambia became a one-party state under Kaunda (widely known as KK), who banned all political parties except UNIP in 1972.… Seguir leyendo »
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will hold a two-day extraordinary Troika Summit in Maputo on 8-9 April to deliberate on measures to address the armed militancy in northern Mozambique.
Countering the armed militants known locally as al-Shabab is an urgent regional and international priority following their attacks on Palma since 24 March and the devastation caused in deaths, displaced, and destruction and damage to property. The government recaptured the town on 5 April but it is too soon to assess the total death count in Palma, likely to be in the dozens with thousands newly-displaced.
Since 2017, some 2,500 have been killed and nearly 700,000 internally displaced by this insurgency, but the Palma attack is a new morbid watershed.… Seguir leyendo »
The year 2020 will of course be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic, but many African countries have handled the public health effects of the first wave well compared with neighbouring continents, with some 55,000 related deaths and two million recovered out of a population of just over one billion.
This can be credited to quick action and leadership by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and others, assisted by public support and a youthful population with about only three per cent aged over 65 and relatively few institutionalized homes for the elderly.
Climate, prior exposure to other coronavirus strains, and effective community health networks set up in response to contain previous epidemics such as Ebola also clearly played a role.… Seguir leyendo »
Africa is experiencing its first continent-wide recession in 25 years due to the impact of the COVID-19, but many southern African states were already in economic distress prior to the pandemic – with Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe partly because of unsustainable debt burdens they owe to China.
The COVID-19 crisis propelled African debt – and repayment and forgiveness – to the top of the international agenda once again, although this time much of the debt is bilateral, non-concessionary, or commercial in origin.
In April, the World Bank’s Development Committee and G20 finance ministers endorsed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) which includes 40 African Least Developed Countries (LDCs).… Seguir leyendo »
Europe's preparation for the European Union–African Union Summit in 2021 needs to succesfully provide a coherent African policy on security, immigration and climate change that goes beyond trade and provides, at the very least, an opportunity for dialogue with the Russian Federation, which is also re-engaging in Africa.
The first Russia-Africa summit in Sochi in October 2019 was co-chaired by the Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Egyptian president and African Union chairman Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. It also attracted 43 heads of state or government and more than 6,000 participants and media representatives from Russia and 104 foreign countries and territories.
Resulting from the Sochi summit is the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum, which is tasked to prepare for the second Russia-Africa summit in 2022.… Seguir leyendo »
The coup in Mali is not a putsch by disgruntled soldiers in a distant land. It is an extended European neighbourhood and matters to Britain. The UK already has three Chinook helicopters deployed in country and 250 British troops are scheduled to take up UN peacekeeping duties in December in what could be the ministry of defence’s most dangerous deployment since Afghanistan.
This coup was not unexpected as it followed months of mass protests against alleged corruption, a worsening economy, disputed legislative election results and deteriorating security in this West African country. Mali’s military is struggling to stop the insurgents, some of them now also affiliated with the ISIL (ISIS) armed group, despite UN, EU, French and regional military support.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK has been redeploying diplomatic, defence and development capabilities towards the Sahel since 2018 – a strategic pivot intended to deliver development impact, address long term security threats to UK interests and support alliances with international partners.
The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions and has witnessed an escalation in jihadist activity, illegal migration and trafficking since a security crisis erupted in Mali in 2012.
The crisis spread to Niger and Burkina Faso and may now spill over into Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. With Nigeria also facing insurgency in the Lake Chad basin, all major regional security and economic anchors in the region are under threat including key UK partners.… Seguir leyendo »
On March 23 to 24, the centre of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province was occupied by up to 40 “jihadists”, who targeted government facilities, including a barracks, and brandished banners of affiliation to the so-called Islamic State.
On March 25, suspected jihadists raided the town of Quissanga and destroyed the district police headquarters. They too carried an Islamic State flag. Twenty to 30 members of Mozambique’s security forces were killed in both attacks.
Mocimboa da Praia is just south of the Afungi Peninsula, the location of gas projects worth $60- billion. Mocimboa was briefly occupied in late 2017, during attacks claimed by a group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama (or al-Sunnah) that marked the start of a brutal low-intensity conflict, with widespread human rights abuses and attacks on civilians.… Seguir leyendo »
Africa’s dinosaur leaders are members of an increasingly small and unstable club. Popular protests last year forced Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, out of office after almost 20 years in power, as well as Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years. In 2017, Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup (although this was denied) after 40 years.
And in 2011, mass protests led to the downfall of Tunisia’s president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, after he had been in power for 23 years.
Somewhat smoother are the political transitions in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). José Eduardo dos Santos, after almost 38 years in power, stepped down from office in 2017 as his term ended.… Seguir leyendo »
Pope Francis’ visit to Mozambique on 4–6 September comes at a critical political moment. The theme for the papal Africa trip (which also includes Madagascar and Mauritius) is ‘pilgrim of hope, peace and reconciliation’. This is especially relevant for Mozambique, as this is the first week of the official campaign for Mozambique’s sixth national elections on 15 October.
It is also the one-month anniversary of the Maputo Accords for Peace and Reconciliation between the government and the armed opposition, RENAMO (and the fifth anniversary of the previous such agreement in 2014).
What is unusual is that the pope accepted to visit Mozambique just after a peace accord and in the run-up to national elections.… Seguir leyendo »
There is no doubt that 2019 will see a quickening of renewed international competition in Africa. China is now Africa’s leading trading partner and India, Russia and others are increasing their involvement, whereas the European Union is treading water and the United States is falling behind.
A key development in 2018 was Russia’s re-entry into Africa. In 2019 the first Russia-Africa summit will add to an already lengthy list of summits. Russia has, for several years, been quietly investing in Soviet-era partnerships and forging new alliances by offering security, arms training and electioneering services in exchange for mining rights and other opportunities.… Seguir leyendo »