UP EXPERT OPINON: From Algiers to Pretoria, resilient Africa will battle on

Posted on March 29, 2023

On 27 March 2023, Professor Adekeye Adebajo dedicated his column in the Business Day to the continuing resilience of Africa in the face of political, social and economic challenge. 

Hopeful signs include the crude oil pipeline in Uganda and Tanzania and the deployment of peacekeepers to DRC

A recent visit to Addis Ababa, home to the AU, triggered musings on the outlook for Africa in 2023.

The year started with elections in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy with 64% of West Africa’s economic might. It appears that barring a successful court challenge septuagenarian Bola Tinubu will become the country’s next president. He stands to inherit $98bn in national debt and widespread insecurity.

Nigeria led praiseworthy peacekeeping missions to stabilise Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, but has now become an exporter of insecurity across the Lake Chad basin. This has opened the space for coup-making colonels and captains to seize power in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, even as jihadists have spread across Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast. This situation has been worsened by geopolitical rivalry between France and Russia across the drought-stricken Sahel.

In flood-hit Southern Africa dominant liberation parties will continue to stubbornly cling to power. SA accounts for 60% of the subregional economy. Its governing ANC has been racked by factional fighting and corruption scandals. The outcome of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm scandal may well be a watershed moment for the rule of law in the postapartheid era.

Angola’s Joăo Lourenço only narrowly won re-election in August 2022 in a country in which entrepreneurial generals are still powerful. This mirrors neighbouring Zimbabwe, where a repressive politico-military complex will use any means to prevent an opposition electoral victory in July.

Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi will continue to struggle to contain an insurgency in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province. Rwandan peace enforcers — backed by a Southern African peacekeeping force — will continue to lead the fight to protect the regime and Western corporate interests.

Seemingly senile

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is scheduled to hold elections in December, accounts for 60% of Central Africa’s economy with oil-rich Cameroon. Rwanda has been accused by UN experts of using M23 rebels to foment unrest in the eastern DRC. A staggering 5.8-million people remain displaced in the volatile region in a conflict that has raged for more than two decades.

Cameroon’s French-backed, seemingly senile, 90-year-old president, Paul Biya, has now entered the fourth decade of misrule, which has triggered a separatist conflict in the west of the country.

The war-ravaged Central African Republic — a theatre in which Pax Russica has battled Pax Gallica – has 1-million displaced people, with 16,000 UN peacekeepers mostly observing the slaughter for a decade.  

In Eastern Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia account for half of a subregional economy still threatened by drought and famine in 2023. Conflict has displaced 4-million people in South Sudan, while military brass hats continue to wield power in neighbouring Sudan.

Two-million people have been displaced in Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti. AU troops have kept parts of Somalia stable amid continuing attacks by al-Shabaab militants, while the AU-brokered  Ethiopian peace treaty with the Tigray region has ended a destructive two-year conflict that killed 600,000 people.

There are some hopeful signs: Uganda and Tanzania are completing an East African crude oil pipeline, while the East African Community will soon conclude the deployment of peacekeepers to eastern DRC.

North Africa will continue to experience political autocracy and economic stagnation in 2023. Egypt and Algeria account for nearly three-quarters of the subregional economy. Autocratic rule is firmly entrenched in Cairo under Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and in Tunis under Kaïs Saïed.

Libya will continue to struggle to hold elections in 2023, while Morocco’s King Mohammed VI’s health will remain a concern. Algeria’s politico-military-business rulers — le pouvoir – will continue to pull the strings, assisted by high oil and gas prices.

Africa will thus resiliently continue to muddle through in 2023.


Professor Adekeye Adebajo is professor and senior research fellow at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship.

This article first appeared in The Business Day on 27 March 2023


- Author Professor Adekeye Adebajo

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