West Africa

Map WestAfrica


Ghana: Cocobod paid back loan despite dismal harvest


Ghana’s Cocobod has paid back a $1.7 billion loan it received from international lenders last year, its spokesman said on Tuesday, putting to rest fears of default by the regulator due to this year’s dismal harvest.

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Perseverance and pressure – Muhammadu Buhari, President-elect, Nigeria


Few leaders get a second chance – certainly not three decades after the first – to take power in their countries at a time of national crisis and towering expectations.

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How the Nigerian electoral race was won

Photo©Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP

With less money than its rivals, the APC poached ruling party dissidents and used technology and social media to get its message out and monitor the vote.

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Country Profile 2014: TOGO

Protests and calls for reform

Despite the street protests and demands from civil society that took place in 2013, the Togolese government managed to organise legislative elections in July 2013 and reduce tension during the last part of the year. There is no certainty that 2014 will not bring similar instability as there are many challenges that remain to be resolved on the political and social fronts ahead of presidential elections in 2015.

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Country Profile 2014: SIERRA LEONE

Partisan squabbles hinder progress

The holding of another peaceful and relatively fair democratic election in late 2012 could, and should, have symbolised the success of rebuilding Sierra Leone and its emergence from post-conflict status towards development, but the reality is a rather different and sadder story of increasing political division and bitterness.

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Country Profile 2014: SENEGAL

A year down and much more to do

Senegal’s new dawn in 2012, with the election of President Macky Sall, has brought with it some stability as well as some disappointments for ordinary citizens. But Sall was elected based on promises of reform and improved quality of life for the population, which is largely dependent on agriculture.

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Country Profile 2014: NIGERIA

The race starts early

Hastened by the split of the ruling party in 2013, the electoral wheels will gather speed in 2014, placing strain on the oil sector and regional stability. President Goodluck Jonathan’s presumed ambition to run for office again in 2015 has polarised the political field to a degree unprecedented since the return to democracy in 1999. The political jostling will test the delicate balance that has allowed some economic reforms to gain traction. The privatisation of state power plants, a key step towards ending decades of chronic electricity shortages, has gained momentum (see box).

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Country Profile 2014: NIGER

Sahel instability tops the agenda

President Mahamadou Issoufou’s attempts to build political consensus and move the country on from its history of military coups have been somewhat overshadowed by external threats. The Touareg rebellion and subsequent Islamist take over of Mali continues to cause serious problems for Niger and in May 2013 a long-feared terrorist attack took place. Twenty-one people died in dual attacks on a military barracks in Agadez and a French-owned uranium mining facility in Arlit.

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Country Profile 2014: MALI

IBK faces the mountain

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s landslide victory in August 2013 has yet to make the earth move for diplomats, investors and ordinary Malians. While the holding of a peaceful election opened up aid channels, any prospect of meaningful development spending in the north will be hampered by security concerns and a lack of real effort to address the causes of separatism, smuggling and religious extremism.

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Country Profile 2014: LIBERIA

Predator police, predator politicians

Having survived a generally peaceful decade since the end of its civil war, Liberia is often referred to as a post-conflict success story, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government continues to be criticised over corruption among public officials and the police, and over the management of its natural resource deals. The security situation is stable but public discontent, suspicion an danger towards the government is rising.

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Country Profile 2014: GUINEA-BISSAU

The military’s shadow looms large


Guinea-Bissau’s political future rested on the holding of national elections on 24 November and another round of attempts to get the military to respect civilian authority. The country has been under an arms embargo and its leadership has been under sanctions and was unrecognised – except by the Economic Community of West African States – since the 12 April 2012 military coup. As The Africa Report went to press, the government postponed elections until at least March 2014 due to organisational and financial problems.

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Country Profile 2014: GUINEA

Win some, lose others

The government enters 2014 on sounder footing. The delayed 28 September 2013 legislative elections ended the country’s transition from military rule, but it will not be a remedy for a country dependent on foreign aid. The government is still trying to build a state able to satisfy the basic needs of its citizens,but it will have more money to spend on infrastructure and other development projects because it reached the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country debt-relief initiative in September 2012.

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Country Profile 2014: GHANA

Democracy’s gain, economy’s downgrade


The year ahead will be the first true test of mettle for President John Dramani Mahama, who after coming to power unexpectedly in 2012 had to face an almost immediate election, the results of which were then not fully validated for eight months. The ensuing uncertainty meant that both political governance and economic management have taken a while to find some equilibrium.


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Country Profile 2014: GAMBIA

Retreating into isolation

While the continuing controversies stirred by President Yahya Jammeh have given fuel to Gambian opposition parties on the ground, and have sparked more vocal outrage from the media and citizens through social media, the opposition will no doubt still struggle to agree on a unified course of action in 2014. But it can at least claim to have gained some ground and the government appears to be feeling the heat, with reports that the authorities have stepped up their tactics of arrests and exiling political dissenters.

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Country Profile 2014: CÔTE D’IVOIRE

Rebuilding programme gains speed

Security and economic activity have largely improved in Côte d’Ivoire more than two years after the end of the post-election crisis, but Ivorians are still waiting to see improvements to their livelihoods. While the government is proceeding with massive public investments, funding from the private sector remains too low to stimulate a real boom.

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Country Profile 2014: CAPE VERDE

Sharing Europe’s doldrums

Cape Verde has hosted a divided government since elections in August 2011. President Jorge Carlos Fonseca represents the Movimento para a Democracia (MpD), while Prime Minister José Maria Neves is from the Partido Africano da Independência de Cabo Verde (PAICV) and is the head of government. The PAICV has 37 out of the 72 seats in the national assembly, but there have not been many cases where the MpD and PAICV have had to work together on laws that require a two-thirds majority.

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Country Profile 2014: BURKINA FASO

Opposition needs a new broom

The year 2014 will bring Burkina Faso another step closer to a decision from President Blaise Compaoré on whether he will relinquish power, which he has held since 1987, or attempt to change the constitution to run again in 2015. The opposition and its allies in civil society campaigned against the creation of a senate and the high cost of living in 2013, in attempts to hold the government to account. Inspired by the role of the group Y’en a Marre (Enough is Enough) in Senegal, a group of musicians formed the Balai Citoyen (Citizens’ Broom) to call for a change in government and protest against corruption.

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Country Profile 2014: BENIN

Boni Yayi shapes his legacy

Questions about election management are set to dominate the political agenda in 2014. One of the main challenges will be corrections to the electoral list, the Liste Electorale Permanente Informatisée (LEPI), which are necessary to allow for the holding of the delayed local elections. If there visions are not completed in 2014, that could complicate the legislative polls planned for 2015 and the presidential election in 2016.

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