Editor’s Note: March 05, 2019

Life is getting harder for Africa’s autocrats

Algeria’s longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has offered to leave office within a year if he wins April elections, in an attempt to quell unexpected protests sweeping the country in opposition to his bid for a fifth term.

This comes as Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, in power for 30 years, struggles to cling to power in the face of similarly unexpected public opposition.

Despite their best efforts the two have been unable to stop intensifying protests, pointing to Africa’s shift away from indefinite and autocratic rule.

According to the Ibrahim Index of African Governance the average score for participation and human rights on the continent notably improved between 2008 – 2017, with 79.6% of African citizens living in countries that have seen progress.

The number of longtime rulers has diminished, while military coups have become the exception that proves the rule of power transfer by the ballot box.

It’s important not to get carried away.

Autocracy is alive and well in places like Egypt, and rising in democracies like Tanzania. Zimbabwe has shown that removing a longtime autocrat is no guarantee for progress.

Yet however imperfect the trend is towards more accountability, which is making it harder for autocrats like Bouteflika and Bashir to stay in power. 

This is a good thing.

From The Continent

Morocco’s OCP Group, the world’s biggest phosphate exporter, expects to reach a deal to build a $1.5bn ammonia plant in Nigeria this year, and is considering setting up a factory in Ghana in 2020. This is part of a strategy to boost low phosphate-based fertilizer use and production in Africa. More: Reuters

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have met with South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir for talks amid efforts to consolidate a peace deal signed in October to end a five-year civil war.With an estimated 3.5bn barrels South Sudan is sitting on Africa’s third-largest, and largely untapped, oil reserves. More: Al Jazeera

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The amount a consortium led by Manila-based power distribution company Meralco plans to invest in Ghana’s state-owned power utility, part of a 20-year deal to run the company. More: Africa Oil & Power

The Global Perspective

U.S. president Donald Trump has extended sanctions against Zimbabwe by a year, saying that policies under president Emmerson Mnangagwa constitute an “unusual and extraordinary” threat to Washington’s foreign policy. This comes despite widespread calls for sanctions to be lifted to help the country address its worst economic crisis in a decade. More:Reuters

The European Investment Bank has launched a €142m initiative to fund renewable energy projects in Gambia. This is aimed at boosting rural energy access and increasing the country’s power supply by a fifth. More: EIB

The Daily Follow