If 2017 was an eventful year for Africa, 2018 is expected to be even busier. No less than nine African nations will go to the polls this year. Tough economic conditions brought about last year are predicted to ease, with growth in Sub-Saharan Africa expected to rise.
Overall, Africa’s economies are projected to grow at 3.7% in 2018, driven by a rebound in commodity prices and stabilizing markets in Europe and China. Many experts, however, believe the continent’s main challenge in the new year is ensuring that this expansion in growth help answers the problem of youth joblessness. African economies have also been cautioned to stringently address deficits in expenditure as well as growing debt.
Stability in parts of Africa will still be a challenge with groups like Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram still not completely isolated or defeated. Security issues and on-going immigrant repatriation are also expected to present new challenges in 2018.
With environmental issues like climate change and food security still contributing to the testing conditions experienced across the entire continent, innovation on sustainable agricultural practices will be central to addressing Africa’s food security and job creation.
But there is good news on the horizon. It is expected that Africa will edge closer to the realisation of the continental Free Trade Area, which will present a significant boost to intra-African trade that currently stands in the region of 12%. South Africa will host the 2018 BRICS summit in September while China hosts the FOCAC summit December. Both events are key hallmarks and yardsticks of South-South Cooperation.
So what should governments and non-governmental organisations be prioritising in the coming months? And what other expectations are there for Africa in 2018?