The good, the bad and the ugly: West Africa’s big problems in 2022 | Economy and Business News
Lagos, Nigeria – This year has been generally turbulent for West Africa, with some positive points.
Just as the region was reeling from the 2020 post-COVID-19 economic fallout, Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
That led to a global disruption in the supply of certain commodities, including wheat, causing many economies around the world to collapse. West Africa, with its fair share of domestic problems, was also affected.
Here are 10 of the major issues defining the sociopolitical landscape in West Africa in 2022.
cost of living crisis
In November, Nigeria’s inflation rate hit a 17-year high of 21.47 percent and the number of people living in poverty rose to 133 million, or 63 percent of the population. according to to the National Statistics Office.
In Sierra Leone, economic problems led street protesters to demand the resignation of President Julius Bio. Twenty-one protesters and six police officers died in the protests. In November, Senegal had to free up $762 million to deal with rising costs of living and caps on the prices of essential goods.
The Ghana cedi became the worst performing currency against the dollar in 2022 and inflation hit a 21-year high of 40 percent, prompting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to give it a $3 bailout loan. billion.
return of stolen art
For decades, West African nations have demanded the return of artifacts looted by former colonial powers. This year the US, Germany and the UK started doing so. London’s Horniman Museum has also agreed to return 72 of the bronzes stolen during the sack of the former Benin empire in 1897.
In the nearby Republic of Benin, the artifacts returned by France in 2021 were put on display for the first time. The returns mark the beginning of a positive arc for West African countries clamoring for the return of cultural treasures looted during the days of slavery and colonialism.
Torrential rains that experts attribute to climate change caused widespread flooding in Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Niger and Senegal. More than 5.5 million people were affected.
In Nigeria, thousands of homes were destroyed, 1.3 million more were displaced and more than 600 people were killed.
Climate change has also exacerbated worrying levels of food insecurity in the region with much farmland submerged from Nigeria to Chad.
coup plotters and rebels
A trend of coups that began in 2020 in the region once infamously known as “the coup belt” continued this year. In September, disenchanted soldiers broke ranks and toppled Burkina Faso’s military government installed in January, a move widely described as a “coup within a coup”.
Elsewhere in Mali, a coup was foiled. The military government that came to power through a coup in August 2020 blamed an unnamed Western nation. There were also coup attempts in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia.
Senegal reached a peace deal with the rebel group in Casamance, in what was effectively Africa’s longest conflict since 1982. Some of Chad’s rebel groups also took part in a Doha-facilitated dialogue after decades of unrest and fighting. by the power.
After strongman leader Idris Deby was killed in combat, his son was appointed head of a transitional military council. The threat of civil war loomed until a peace agreement was reached which led to the return of the main exiled rebel leaders.
Expansion of armed groups
Benin and Togo witnessed a series of attacks by armed groups, raising fears that the violence would spread from the Sahel to the West African coast. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who has alleged that Burkina Faso is paying Russian mercenaries with mining rights, has warned that the violence could “submerge” West Africa.
The expansionist violence of the armed groups linked to ISIS (ISIL) and al-Qaeda made Burkina Faso this year the epicenter of the conflict. Attacks there and in Mali for years have resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis.
In June, suspected members of the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) killed at least 50 people during a Catholic church service in relatively peaceful southwestern Nigeria, drawing global condemnation.
Analysts said the incident marked a worrying spread of terror in a country seemingly incapable of protecting critical infrastructure, as evidenced by the March attack on a train outside the city of Kaduna.
Wagner in West Africa
Private armies are on the rise in the region, especially in Mali, which has severed ties with France and withdrawn from the G5 multinational security force tackling insecurity in the Sahel.
Mali’s leaders seized power citing the government’s inability to deal with armed groups wreaking havoc, complicating its relationship with France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). , which imposed sanctions.
Mali’s detention of 48 Ivorian soldiers in August sparked a diplomatic rift within ECOWAS and Côte d’Ivoire has since withdrawn its troops from the UN peacekeeping force.
Anti-French sentiments led to protests in Bamako mainly over the perceived ineffectiveness of French troops in restricting the activities of armed groups in the Sahel since their arrival in 2013. French troops have since left to settle in Niger as their new base in the Sahel.
In recent years, Russia has made crucial inroads into Africa, renewing Cold War-era relations. In October, half of the 35 countries that abstained from voting at the United Nations to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine were African.
The presence of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries has been seen as proof that the West is losing its near-monopoly of influence in Africa. But the group has been accused of human rights abuses in its persecution of armed groups, drawing international criticism.
Meanwhile, Burkina Faso summoned the Ghanaian ambassador following Akufo-Addo’s claims, but did not confirm or deny his involvement in the Wagner group.
Twitter: Here today, gone tomorrow
Following a reported settlement with Twitter, Nigeria has ended its seven-month ban on the social media platform that began after controversial tweets from President Muhammadu Buhari called “genocidal” by human rights groups were removed in June 2021.
Last year, Twitter announced that it would open an Africa office in Ghana, and many Nigerian users speculated that Nigeria had been passed over due to the ban. But four days after a physical office opened in Accra, the new owner, Elon Musk, laid off all but one of his staff in Africa.
Google expands its presence in West Africa
An estimated 40,000 of the Timbuktu manuscripts were digitized into Google for the first time thanks to the combined efforts of local and international scholars. Manuscripts documenting stories from the pre-eminent past of pre-colonial empires, including their early contribution to scholarship in mathematics, medicine, astronomy, etc., were at risk of looting or destruction as a result of unrest and political instability in Mali. Since 2013.
In March 2022, Togo became the first place to receive Google’s underwater Internet connectivity infrastructure in Europe. The cable will have other landings in Africa, including Nigeria.
The Sierra Leone government is backing a bill to decriminalize abortion and repeal a colonial-era pro-abortion rights law that allows the process only in the event of a threat to the life of the mother. In 2015, then-President Bai Koroma vetoed the bill after backlash from religious groups in the country, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
In Nigeria, the federal legislature voted against a series of bills that sought to improve the representation of women in politics and the granting of citizenship to foreign husbands, among others. The protests led parliament to rescind its decision; a new vote is expected in the new year.
In Guinea, the trial of former dictator Moussa Dadis Camara has left survivors of a 2008 stadium mass murder and a mass rape during his tenure with renewed hopes for justice.
Election fever hits West Africa
Nigeria’s 2023 election campaign kicked off in full force this year, dominated by talks over security and the economy, which citizens say have seriously collapsed under the current administration.
Three of the leading candidates hope to succeed President Buhari, whose second and final five-year term expires in May next year, a departure from traditional bipartisan dominance.
Many young people hope that the union-backed Labor Party, with a candidate younger than the septuagenarian heavyweights in the ruling All Progressives Congress and the leading opposition People’s Democratic Party, can wrest victory against the current of the game.
In May, a court in Abuja stopped Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele’s stunning and unprecedented attempt to contest the presidency.
Senegal’s ruling party lost its comfortable parliamentary majority when protests ahead of legislative elections threatened the country’s image of stability in the region. There is growing concern that President Macky Sall may announce a run for a third term next year.
Elsewhere in Sierra Leone and Liberia, incumbents won re-election tickets in next year’s presidential elections.