There are a few stories that are expected to be at the forefront of news coverage across the continent in 2023. From key elections to shifting geopolitical dynamics to the rise of new creative talents. Other issues of interest include new technological hubs and climate change. Here is a list of ten stories to keep an eye out for:
1. TENSION BETWEEN ALGERIA & MOROCCO
The two North African neighbours are at loggerheads over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, where the Algerian-backed Polisario organisation is calling for an independence vote. Further aggravating the situation is Morocco’s rapprochement with Israel. Algeria has traditionally supported the Palestinian cause and regards Israeli efforts to develop formal ties with Morocco as a security risk due to the prospect of Israeli-Moroccan military cooperation.
Despite a 1991 plan to hold a referendum on merger with Morocco or independence, the UN Security Council is reviewing Morocco’s proposal for limited autonomy in Western Sahara.
2. THE EFFECT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE CONTINENT
The year 2022 was undoubtedly one of extremes in terms of climatic disasters. Record-breaking temperatures, as well as devastating floods, droughts, and storms, have hit many parts of Africa. Last year, the Horn of Africa had its worst drought on record, destroying crops and livelihoods and bringing populations to the brink of starvation. Meanwhile, 19 West African countries have been devastated by catastrophic flooding. At COP 27, the idea of Adaptation to climate change came to the fore. The Global Center on Adaptations State and Trends research in Africa reveals that financing climate change adaptation is cheaper than responding to increasingly frequent and severe disasters. Will African governments adjust their policies to address climate change by 2023?
3. ETHIOPIAN PEACE DEAL
On November 2, 2022, Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan rebels signed an unlikely peace agreement aimed at ending two years of fighting that pulled in Ethiopia’s former enemy-turned-ally, Eritrea, while devastating the Tigray region and surrounding areas, increasing ethnic divisions. Phone lines and electricity have been restored to the northern region of Tigray, but many families remain fearful due to the continued presence of soldiers from neighbouring Eritrea, who are blamed for a wave of atrocities during the two-year war.
4. NIGERIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
On February 25, 2023, Nigeria will have one of the most important elections in decades. The stakes are high as citizens go to the polls to choose their new president.
If successful, Nigeria will have experienced three peaceful power transitions in a row for the first time in its 63-year history.
The turnout of Nigeria’s massive youth population, which made up more than 80% of newly registered voters this year, is one of the trends to watch. Also, Peter Obi, candidate for president of the Nigerian Labour Party, has gone from long shot to frontrunner in recent polls. Can he keep this level of support going until the election?
Finally, a successful election could have an impact on many other West African countries.
5. MOROCCO, AFRICA’S EMERGING TECH HUB
GITEX GLOBAL, the world’s major technology expo, is moving to Africa for the first time in 2023, with the first GITEX Africa scheduled for May through June in Marrakech, Morocco. This move illustrates the continent’s importance in the world of technology. It also confirms Morocco’s potential, which has relied on the quality of its young talent, proximity to European markets, regionally competitive telecommunication infrastructure, and multilingual workforce to achieve reasonable success in developing a digital hub model.
6. AFRICAN CREATIVES TO WATCH IN 2023
African creatives are receiving the attention and opportunities they deserve in a more interconnected world. This year, keep an eye out for three talented individuals:
Thusu Mbedu. The South African actress’ portrayal of Nawi in The Woman King earned her various accolades, including a spot on the New York Times’ list of the Top 10 Best Actors of 2022.
Omar Ba. Senegalese contemporary artist renowned for his mixed media works. Omar has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the US, Europe, and Africa.
Jade Osiberu. Jade co-wrote and directed Gangs of Lagos, Amazon Prime’s first Nigerian original feature length film, and Brotherhood, a criminal action thriller and Nollywood’s highest-grossing movie in 2022.
7. GABONESE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
The last election was marred by extreme violence and voting irregularities. After Ali Bongo, the incumbent president, was declared the winner of a closely fought election, over 1000 people were arrested and the presidential guard was alleged to have bombed the headquarters of the opposition party.
There are already ominous signs in the run-up to this year’s election. Mathurin Ovono Ebe, a distinguished academic and head of the National Union of Teachers, was kidnapped, tortured, and threatened by armed intruders in 2021. Guy Nzouba-Ndama, the former president of the Gabonese National Assembly, was arrested in September 2022, with bags containing more than 77 million Euro.
Gabon, which has been ruled by the Bongos for over 50 years, is a ticking time bomb.
8. MOROCCO’S TOURISM BOOM
Morocco’s extraordinary performance at the World Cup captivated both casual and regular fans. The benefits of their remarkable run extend beyond the world of sports. Morocco, an already popular destination, is about to see a tourism boom. This type of cross-sectoral benefits has happened before. Costa Rica experienced a rise in tourism in 2014 as a result of their outstanding performance in the World Cup in Brazil.
9. U.S. AFRICA RELATIONS
During the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States’ presence in Africa declined. The former US president had a more isolationist stance. Other countries, such as Russia and Turkey, seized the opportunity and increased their involvement in Africa.
The current administration follows a different strategy. At the US-Africa leaders’ summit in December 2022, President Biden pledged that Africa would play a significantly larger role in global affairs and proposed that African countries be given permanent representation in the G20.
It will be interesting to observe how the charm offensive unfolds. African countries are establishing more economic relationships with non-traditional partners. Algeria, for example, officially submitted its bid to join BRICS in November 2022. The current members of the BRICS economic alliance are Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
10. DENIS MUKWEGE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY
The Nobel Peace Prize winner is well-liked and respected in the Congolese diaspora and at home, but he has not decided whether to run for president.
Things are changing in Congo. The current administration’s tenure has been characterised by rampant corruption, impunity, and an inability to deal with armed groups in the east of the country. Because the political landscape has improved, it is now much easier for an independent candidate to run for office. The calls for Denis Mukwege to run for president are growing louder and more frequent.