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Securityflash Africa

Our one-glance security indicator

Our “Securityflash” ratings are an assessment of the economic and political security situation in selected Sub-Sahara African countries in bulletin style, complete with poignant traffic light signals.

The selection of rated countries follows criteria such as general FDI attractiveness (for example, inherently instable countries with almost uninterrupted histories of political violence and/or economic anarchy are left out entirely), and sufficient information for sound judgement.

The assessments themselves are made evaluating factors such as general political as well as monetary stability, levels of nepotism as well as corruption, and ethnic conflicts. Also, check out category “Securityflash” in the Economic Ticker section of this website for further, detailed analysis.

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Botswana

It is and remains the paradigm of political stability and security in Sub-Sahara Africa. With an almost untainted history of peace and democratic development ever since independence, Botswana is one of the rare examples to escape the ‘Dutch disease’, investing the proceeds of its enormous diamond wealth into public education and health, and creating levels of per-capita GDP higher than anywhere else on the continent (with the exceptions of oil-rich, but autocratic Gabon and Equatorial-Guinea). Also, levels of corruption are relatively low. Currently, there are no signs that anything about this blissful state might change in the near to mid term.

Green light

Ethiopia

Ethiopia ranks among the economic miracles in Sub-Sahara Africa, though that, sadly, has not sufficed to secure the nutrition of its people so far. The economic boom, additionally, has come at a cost: A single-party state, the country has had one of the more oppressive regimes on the continent tolerating no opposition whatsoever. In 2017, tensions boiled over into first violent challenges to that iron rule, resulting in likewise clampdowns by the regime. Yet in a surprising move at the beginning of 2018, the government has announced to release all political prisoners and start talks with the opposition. Shortly thereafter, a power struggle within the ruling EPRDF coalition for succession of its leader has produced the Oromian Abiy Ahmed Ali as new Prime Minister. Beside the Amharans, the Oromians are by far the largest ethnic group in the country, yet never got to have a say at the top of government where the relatively small group of Tigrayans held on to power for decades. The young Prime Minister has made a very promising, open-minded start into office, breaking with the unyielding tradition of successive governments and introducing democratic as well as economic reforms. Taken together, that is not yet enough for us to set the securityflash to yellow, but the outlook is now positive.

Red light

Ghana

Ghana has seen a sometimes turbulent and, sadly, bloody development ever since it became the very first Sub-Sahara African country to gain independence. Yet economically, it ranks among the relatively stable countries within ECOWAS as much as the rest of the continent. And in its recent history, it staged relatively free and unmanipulated elections, culminating in the completely peaceful transition of power to President Nana Akufo-Addo from his socialist predecessor in 2017. Inflation, however, as much as corruption are a persistent blight for the country yet to be reined in; thus, we set the securityflash at yellow, with a positive outlook due to the continuing high levels of political stability and the President’s hopeful agenda.

Yellow light

Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast is one of the politically rather unsteady leading economies within ECOWAS and, indeed, the whole of Sub-Sahara Africa. That said, it is one of the economic powerhouses of the region, with its economic capital Abidjan drawing more sizeable FDI inflows than many other countries on the continent as a whole. It certainly boasts a better political development path than, say, The Gambia. However, even in recent history outbreaks of political violence have been common, combined with the odd military coup-d’état, sometimes drawing the French military into the conflict. In 2017, President Alassane Ouattara had to battle with another uprising of the military as well as police forces, which is why we set the securityflash to yellow then and continue to do so.

Yellow light

Kenya

The EAC’s leading economy has been ranking among the better examples of political as much as economic stability, not least due to its relatively free democracy as well as economy. Though it had its share of despotic rulers, its democracy has been developing persistently. Yet the country is home to more than 40 different tribes having entrenched along party lines, leading to sporadic outburts of ethnic conflicts, and sometimes even to bloody fighting such as after the contested elections of 2007. The most recent elections on August 8th, 2017, had thus resulted in a political stalemate, because the oppositional leader and candidate, Raila Odinga at first would not accept the results. Intermittently, he arranged for being sworn in as the “People’s President”, effectively constituting a counter-government. Yet in the meantime, Odinga and President Kenyatta have reached a cooperation agreement creating a role for the opposition leader much like a formal government minister. And it appears that this arrangement has been quelling the political unrest successfully. Hence, we still set the securityflash at yellow, but with a markedly better outlook than before (see our most recent detailed analysis of the country’s general state, too).

Yellow light

Zambia

What used to be one of the more promising examples of democratic development in Sub-Sahara Africa has decidedly turned for the worse: Ever since presidential elections in August 2016, the defeated opposition leader and candidate, Hakainde Hichilema has challenged the result. Now, in what at first seemed a minor incident of denying priority of way to the President’s motorcade, Mr Hichilema finds himself charged with treason. Zambia’s presidential republic has thus taken a deplorable step towards autocracy. What’s equally disconcerting is the country’s relatively high debt denominated in US-Dollars; in total, Zambia has sold eurobonds to the tune of some $3bn since 2012, leaving this commodity-heavy economy completely dependent on the price of copper and threatening its solvency when US rates inevitably will start to rise. Hence, we have to set the securityflash at red.

Red light