GOODBYE 2014. It was a year that produced a mixed record for African countries and governments. Here is an overview of the idealistically conceived New Year resolutions that each African government should aspire to for 2015, and might produce better results.
This is the second part of the Africa resolutions, see the first one HERE:
Protect my citizens
Citizen protection should be the core mandate of any government, yet several African governments failed miserably this year. There is little sign of resolution for the civil war that began a year ago and spread in the Central African Republic. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sporadic attacks by the the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and other armed groups on civilians, which often result in death, rape and abductions, continue to plague the country as perpetrators continue to operate free from persecution.
In both Mali and Cote d’Ivoire the government has failed to address threats in the North of their country. In Mali the threat from Islamic militancy has required France and Algeria to step in whilst in Cote d’Ivoire the danger is posed by heavily-armed criminals that are subjecting residents in the North of the country to a spate of relentless violent attacks.
In Nigeria, Cameroon and Kenya the governments were unable or struggled to contain terrorist and insurgency attacks by Islamic militant groups Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab respectively.
In Nigeria’s case, President Jonathan stated that Boko Haram have killed over 13,000 Nigerians since the insurgency began in 2009 - this year at least 2,053 civilians were killed in an estimated 95 attacks during the first half of 2014. To combat terrorism Cameroon and Kenya passed laws which in both cases have raised concerns that they will not in fact be used to protect citizens, but instead be misused to undermine the constitution, crack down on opposition and muzzle the media.
Meanwhile in Liberia the government was unable to adequately protect its citizens from the devastating Ebola outbreak in Guinea this year. Nearly 200 health workers became infected, almost half of them dying, and with 3,376 out of the total 7,580 deaths (as of December 21st), the country has the highest Ebola death rate of this outbreak.
Be more business friendly
Somalia does not even feature in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index - a demonstration at the lawlessness that continues to affect many parts of the country. However groups have criticised the World Bank’s omission, because they believe the country is showing sign of economic recovery- and can teach the world some lessons int ease of doing business. However, the Somali government still has a very long way to go to convince investors that it is open for business; better start now.
Meanwhile Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Sudan and Guinea all rank appallingly low on Ease of Doing Business Index. These nations are not doing themselves any favours with some of the lowest scores in the world and in fact deteriorations in sub-indicators such as “starting a business”, “dealing with permits”, “getting credit” and “enforcing contracts”.
Get a grip
There are a couple of African nations that have descended into a level of chaos that perhaps the only resolution they can have is to get a grip on the situation at home. In Libya there have been two governments and parliaments operating in the country since August - both armed to the teeth and competing for control of the country’s oil.
In South Sudan the civil war rages on and has once again escalated - neither President Salva Kiir nor his challenger, former vice president Riek Machar have any incentive to stop fighting.
Focus on job creation for young people: Uganda (62%), the Republic of Congo (46%), Sierra Leone (60%), South Africa (53.6%), Swaziland (43%), Namibia (41%) and Senegal (30%) - these countries have particularly worrying youth unemployment rates.
It leads to the stifling of the economy, an increase in violence and criminality and can be politically destabilising if the youth account for a high proportion of the population. This puts particular pressure on Uganda where youth unemployment is the highest in Africa as is its population - in 2012 the UN Population Fund stated that at 78%, Uganda has the world’s largest percentage of young people under 30.
In South Africa’s case, persistently high unemployment over the past couple of years suggests a lack of effective policy interventions which could include overhauls in the formal education system, post-school training and public employment programs.
Stop cracking that whip so much
There are several countries on the continent that have demonstrated unnecessary levels of restriction this year that have had negative repercussions. In terms of internet and press freedom, Eritrea, the Gambia, Ethiopia and Djibouti are some of the most repressive on the continent. Aside from limiting democratic freedoms, imposing restrictions on ICT, such as Ethiopia’s requirement that all users register all ICT equipment including smartphones, makes it difficult to develop the country’s tech industries.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Rwanda got the stick for repressive actions - despite fairly liberal media laws, journalists there a considered to work in a restrictive and abusive atmosphere. Meanwhile international sanctions were threatened against Egypt, and relations with Qatar became strained, after the jailing of Al-Jazeera journalists accused of spreading false news.
And in Gambia homosexuals were dealt another blow when tough new anti-gay legislation was signed into law, calling for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts. The US’ recent expulsion of Gambia from the preferential trade programme known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) was widely considered to be a response to this move.
Develop better intra-regional trade
Both Seychelles and Mauritius have once again been star performers in Africa this year. Their resolution however would be to work on the connectivity transport network to improve intraregional trade between the Islands of the Indian Ocean (IOC). Currently intra-IOC trade is very limited-averaging only 3.2% of total IOC trade. This is attributed to inadequate maritime and aviation infrastructure.