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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s in-tray would terrify almost any political leader. He will watch the US election results with special interest after President Donald Trump signalled his frustration over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by observing that Egypt would “end up blowing up the dam and… they have to do something”. Trump blamed Ethiopia for failed negotiations chaired by the United States earlier this year.

Ethiopia | Eritrea
Free

Much is expected of Joe Biden after he is sworn in on 20 January; some of the anticipated policy shifts the United States’ 46th president and his administration may deliver, others they may not – including reversing some controversial policies promoted by his predecessor.

Ghana | Ethiopia | South Africa
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The protracted resignation of Robert Mugabe was met with relief and elation in Zimbabwe, and much further afield by those who have seen one of Africa’s most promising countries driven into misery by the former guerrilla fighter’s capricious 37-year rule. Many Zimbabweans of all political tendencies celebrated the prospect that “it is our time now”, rather than facing the prospect that the 93-year-old president may force his wife Grace Mugabe on the country.

Zimbabwe
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Multi-faceted crises in the six Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale (Cemac) countries – Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Equatorial Guinea (EG), Gabon and Republic of Congo (RoC) – and their giant neighbour Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) make for uncomfortable reading. Acute political problems, and governance and financial shortfalls across the region provide one inescapable reason why the Inga dam and other plans for closer African integration fail to progress.

Free

Political decisions are likely to come thick and fast as a successor is chosen to Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned on 15 February amid turbulent scenes across the country. The 180-member ruling council of the crisis-ridden Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), comprising 45 members from each of its four regional parties, has convened a three-day congress from 1 March to elect a new prime minister. Providing a degree of consensus can be maintained, this should be a set-piece event; the powerful EPRDF executive committee began deliberations on 26 February to hammer out a deal.

Ethiopia
Free

It is easy to forget that Côte d’Ivoire remains classed as a ‘fragile state’, when viewed from Abidjan’s refurbished hotels and burgeoning malls, many developed by long-established Lebanese families who are trading up from their traditional supermarkets. The African Development Bank’s return after 11 years in Tunis exile is one factor pushing up real estate prices and school fees in wealthier neighbourhoods.

Côte d'Ivoire
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Prime minister-designate Habib Essid initiated fresh consultations with political parties on 27 January after initial soundings suggested the Assemblée des Représentants du Peuple (ARP) would not approve his proposed cabinet. Given the now well-established tradition of political dialogue between opposing political forces, this is not expected to long delay the formation of a fully constitutional and democratically legitimate government, which will end the transition started by the ousting of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali four years ago. Against this massive achievement, huge challenges also confront the nation, not least the deteriorating instability in Libya and Tunisia’s own great economic problems.

Tunisia
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Nigerian business leaders may bask in the nation’s inclusion (with Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey) among the ‘Mint’ economies, predicted by Brics creator Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs to lead the next generation of emerging markets. That status will be confirmed if, as expected, Nigeria overtakes South Africa as Africa’s largest national economy. Optimism has been reinforced by the promise of initiatives such as the 2013 privatisation of electricity assets, much of it funded from local capital markets. But there are still plenty of issues to give rise to concern, even when security concerns in the north and Niger Delta are discounted.

Nigeria
Free

The murder of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff during what appears to have been a planned attack on the consulate in Benghazi could hardly send a more negative message about Libya’s prospects. Security has been top of the agenda for the interim authorities who have ruled the country since its liberation. But it also seems to have topped the ‘too difficult’ list.

Libya
Free

The Norwegian Nobel Committee’s decision to award the 2011 Peace Prize to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, just four days before the first round of Liberia’s presidential elections, was a controversial one. In her first term, Johnson Sirleaf did a remarkable job of launching the revival of a country emerging from civil war and economic chaos, but her decision to seek a second term was controversial as she had pledged to serve just one term

Liberia
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The party’s over in Juba following South Sudan’s independence day on 9 July, but the new, officially English-speaking state carved out of the Republic of Sudan remains under intense scrutiny, from international organisations and business groups, as well as from international oil companies which must come to terms with the region’s new political configuration (AE 213/1).

South Sudan
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Mainstream print and broadcast media are increasingly of the view – thereby making it the prevailing orthodoxy – that growth across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is creating a significant emerging market for the next decade.

Free

The conflict over the former Spanish Sahara is all too often forgotten. But there is a growing feeling in policy circles – shared by companies eager to exploit the territory’s hydrocarbons and mineral potential – that the Western Sahara standoff is overdue a promotion up the international policy agenda. Crisis in the Sahel, where French and African Union forces have confronted jihadist radicals in Mali, has added to pressures to revisit the intractable conflict, more than 40 years since the Polisario Front liberation movement was formed, 38 years since Morocco’s late King Hassan II organised his ‘Green March’ into the territory, and 22 years since a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire was declared.

Morocco
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The rules governing a new mechanism for the international trading of carbon emission reduction credits is due to be agreed at the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which runs from 6-16 June in Germany. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – which has so far proved of limited value to Africa – is set to be replaced by Article 6 of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference’s Paris Agreement, which is intended to offer governments and project owners the potential to tap into a  new source of finance.

Free

The global energy transition is having profound impacts on natural resource producers, from the oil majors who are morphing into energy providers, to mining companies whose priorities are shifting as electric vehicles (EVs), battery storage and other new technologies take hold, and African governments and non-state actors who might profit from these changes but could also find themselves embroiled in new resource wars.