Global Outlook 2017: Sub-Saharan Africa

Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow greets supporters in Banjul.
Jan. 26, 2017: Not all leadership changes in Africa will be as bloodless as the intervention that allowed Adama Barrow to become president of Gambia (source: dpa)
  • Elections were resolved peacefully in the Gambia, but may get ugly in Kenya
  • Chaotic transitions and violence could grip the DRC, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe
  • Somalia may slide back into anarchy, and genocide is possible in South Sudan

In 2017 political instability will be the norm rather than the exception in sub-Saharan Africa. The region will experience several political crises, ranging from rocky political transitions to popular protests, state repression, electoral violence and – under a worst-case scenario – even genocide. Countries in the region will be facing these challenges in a changing international context that will see liberalism replaced, in many cases, by realpolitik.

The prevalence of political uncertainty in sub-Saharan Africa will compromise security and economic growth. Increasing violence and instability will also multiply the numbers of displaced persons and refugees. Most will stay in the region, which already contains more than a quarter of the global refugee population.

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