Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Risks and opportunities intersect as new and entrenched challenges threaten still-fragile changes
- If South Africa’s 2020 budget disappoints, a damaging ratings downgrade may trigger a renewed populist pushback against the president.
- Ethiopia’s elections could push the nation into an even deeper crisis unless security and political institutions show improved resilience.
- The risk of jihadist spillover to West Africa’s coastal states remains slight but has risen markedly.
- The AfCFTA will have to dismantle entrenched protectionism across the continent; this could prove a long-term project.
The coming year looks set to be significant, as several key states, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, South Africa and Sudan, try to navigate difficult transitions. Though the challenges are different, these processes all hold great promise for serious reform, as well as significant risk of slippage or worse.
Elsewhere, conflict risks are rising, especially in the Sahel and eastern DRC. This could prompt a rethinking of current strategies, but there is little sign that anyone has yet devised a key to unlock these intractable situations.
On the economic front, shifting investment flows and the new AfCFTA could foster fresh opportunities, but only if governments truly commit to reform.
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