Despite continuing challenges, six countries—Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania—demonstrate a case for hope in sub-Saharan Africa in 2019.
In Africa’s most populous country, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was elected this year to a second term and is working to tackle the Boko Haram conflict he inherited. Ethiopia has made great progress toward peace under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose tenure includes repairing relations with neighboring Eritrea and freeing political prisoners. Similarly, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi has the opportunity to further support existing movements to improve human rights and the treatment of political prisoners. In South Africa, the legitimate election of President Cyril Ramaphosa offers hope for the future of leadership and citizen trust. Finally, in the two cornerstones of East Africa, Kenya is experiencing upward trends in regional and local politics under Uhuru Kenyatta’s latest term, and in Tanzania, President John Magufuli, generally viewed as a clean politician, will be up for re-election next year. However, even with these pockets of hope, ethnic tensions, civil wars, crime, and disease continue to challenge political stability and the newly-elected leaders tasked with addressing these threats.
On August 12, the Africa Security Initiative at Brookings hosted an event examining the security status of these six critical countries. With approximately half of sub-Saharan Africa’s population between them, the political environments and the stability of these countries shed considerable light on the overall prospects for the continent. After the discussion the panelists answered questions from the audience.
PanelistMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and StrategyMatthew Carotenuto Professor of History and incoming Associate Dean of International and Intercultural Studies - St. Lawrence University