Top 10 key issues to watch in Africa in 2024

Africa is a continent of immense diversity, opportunity and challenge. As the world dives in deeper in this new year, here are some of the most pressing issues that will shape the future of Africa and its people in 2024.

1. The economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has hit Africa hard, with an estimated 5.4% contraction in GDP in 2020 and a slow recovery expected in 2021 and 2022. The pandemic has also exposed the fragility of health systems, social protection and governance in many African countries. The continent will need more support from the international community, especially in terms of debt relief, vaccine access and financing for development.

2. Tight elections in Nigeria, Kenya and Angola. Three of Africa's largest and most influential countries will hold general elections in 2024, with high stakes for democracy, stability and regional leadership. Nigeria will face a tense contest between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP), with issues such as insecurity, corruption and economic hardship dominating the agenda. Kenya will witness a fierce battle between the allies and rivals of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is set to retire after his second term. Angola will see the first post-dos Santos election, as President João Lourenço seeks to consolidate his reforms and fend off challenges from the former ruling family and the opposition.

3. Security challenges in the Sahel, Ethiopia and Mozambique. The Sahel region will continue to grapple with the threat of violent extremism, inter-communal clashes and climate change, which have displaced millions of people and undermined state authority. Ethiopia will face the aftermath of the conflict in Tigray, which has killed thousands, displaced millions and strained relations with neighboring countries. Mozambique will confront the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, which has escalated into a humanitarian crisis and attracted the intervention of regional and international actors.

4. The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA, which entered into force in January 2021, is the world's largest free trade area, covering 1.3 billion people and $3.4 trillion in GDP. The AfCFTA aims to boost intra-African trade, industrialization and integration, and create a single market for goods and services. However, the AfCFTA faces many challenges, such as tariff and non-tariff barriers, infrastructure gaps, policy harmonization and political will.

5. The impact of climate change and environmental degradation. Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions to the effects of climate change, such as rising temperatures, droughts, floods, storms and desertification. These effects pose serious risks to food security, water availability, health and livelihoods. Africa also suffers from environmental degradation, such as deforestation, soil erosion, pollution and biodiversity loss. Africa will need to adopt more sustainable and resilient practices, as well as seek more support and justice from the global community.

6. The role of China and other external partners. China is Africa's largest trading partner, investor and creditor, and has been expanding its influence and presence in the continent through various initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-Africa Development Fund. China's role in Africa has been both praised and criticized, depending on the perspective and interests of different stakeholders. Africa will also engage with other external partners, such as the US, the EU, India, Japan, Turkey and the Gulf states, who have their own agendas and interests in the continent.

7. The rise of youth and civil society. Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with more than 60% of its population under the age of 25. This demographic dividend offers a great potential for innovation, entrepreneurship and social change, but also poses a challenge of providing adequate education, employment and participation opportunities for the youth. Africa has also witnessed a surge of civil society activism, especially in the areas of human rights, democracy, anti-corruption and social justice. These movements have been instrumental in holding governments accountable, demanding reforms and expressing the aspirations of the people.

8. The advancement of digital transformation and innovation. Africa has been undergoing a rapid digital transformation, driven by the proliferation of mobile phones, internet access, social media and e-commerce. These technologies have enabled new forms of communication, information, education, entertainment and business, and have created new opportunities for inclusion, empowerment and development. Africa has also been a hub of innovation, producing local solutions to local problems, such as mobile money, solar energy, e-health and e-learning.

9. The promotion of cultural diversity and identity. Africa is a continent of rich and diverse cultures, languages, religions and traditions, which constitute a source of pride, identity and belonging for its people. Africa has also been a major contributor to the global cultural scene, through its music, art, literature, film and fashion. Africa will seek to preserve, promote and celebrate its cultural heritage, as well as to foster dialogue, tolerance and respect among its diverse communities.

10. The quest for peace and development. Africa is a continent of hope and opportunity, but also of conflict and poverty. Africa has made significant progress in reducing poverty, improving health, education and gender equality, and achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, Africa still faces many challenges, such as inequality, corruption, violence, human rights violations and humanitarian crises. Africa will strive to overcome these challenges and achieve its vision of peace and development, as articulated in the Agenda 2063 and the African Union's flagship projects.

These are some of the key issues that will shape the future of Africa and its people in 2024. To learn more about these and other topics, subscribe to our African Magazine and get access to exclusive content, insights and analysis from our experts and contributors. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more.


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