Africa Introduction

Ryan Cummings
Chief Analyst: Africa

The year 2014 proved to be tumultuous for Sub-Saharan Africa. Conflict and associated insecurity continued to flare across large parts of the continent, with the situation particularly precarious in the Sahel region, as well as parts of West and Central Africa, where weak to non-existent state authority precipitated intra-state conflicts with dire humanitarian consequences.

This was most evident in South Sudan and neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), where violence between disparate and ethnically oriented armed groups cumulatively resulted in at least 15,000 fatalities and the displacement of close to 2 million others since 2012. With limited options to finding a binding resolution to both conflicts, South Sudan and the CAR will likely continue to experience intermittent but severe levels of violence in 2015.

In the Sahel’s western-most corner, insecurity continued to be driven by Islamist extremist groups seeking to displace secular state authority with their brutal interpretation of Islamic rule – a trend that red24 anticipated in its 2013 and 2014 threat forecasts. In this regard, north eastern Nigeria continued to serve as a focal point for such insecurity. Not only was 2014 the bloodiest year of Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency, but it also saw the Islamist extremist sect capture and hold large swathes of territory in Nigeria’s north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Ill-equipped and under-staffed, the Nigerian military has struggled, and will likely continue to struggle, to stem the burgeoning violence. However, of particular concern is the impact that the Boko Haram insurgency could have on Nigeria’s February 2015 presidential elections, a topic which is discussed in greater detail in red24’s Nigeria focus piece.

“However, of particular concern is the impact that the Boko Haram insurgency could have on Nigeria’s February 2015 presidential elections…”

Outside of the Sahel, geopolitical stability is set to be influenced by two very dissimilar but equally influential factors. Firstly, in 2014, an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever destabilised an already tenuous socio-economic and political equilibrium which existed in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Due to its dynamic nature, it remains difficult to forecast the anticipated progression of the outbreak in the short- to medium-term. However, what can be said with surety is that the adverse impacts of the disease will be felt in the aforementioned countries in 2015 and beyond.

Secondly, in October 2014, the world witnessed the 27-year reign of Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore, unravel in less than 72 hours. The events which led to and precipitated the fall of one of Africa’s strongmen have undoubtedly sent shockwaves across the African continent. The reverberations would have been particularly palpable in those countries where other long-serving presidents are facing increasing calls for socio-political reform. In red24’s 2015 Threat Forecast, the Africa desk will examine whether the fall of the Compaore regime could mark the dawn of the ‘African Spring’.

The Sub-Saharan Africa edition of red24’s 2015 Threat Forecast will conclude by looking at the burgeoning increase of protest activity in South Africa, as the country marked 20 years of democracy in 2014. The year also accounted for the highest number of protests tabulated since the fall of the apartheid regime. red24 assesses the factors fuelling civil unrest in the country, concomitantly explaining why the struggle in South Africa seemingly persists.

Nigeria

A piece which will explore the Boko Haram conflict among other pressing political concerns.
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Sub-Sahara

A piece which will explore the possibility of potential widespread political change in Africa in 2015.
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South Africa

Increasing protest action is proving to be more than just a nuisance for the ANC regime.
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