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Africa trends in 2024

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Africa trends in 2024. What lies beyond the horizon in Africa in 2024? The outlook for Africa in 2024 is a mixed bag. There is optimism in some countries, but at the same time, concern about others. Image credit: Leon Louw for WhyAfrica

Africa trends in 2024

The outlook for Africa in 2024 is a mixed bag. There is optimism in some countries, but concern about others.

By Leon Louw, owner of WhyAfrica

Africa finds itself in a precarious position in 2024. Despite global headwinds there are some positive developments in countries like Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Egypt, and to a lesser extent in Malawi and Nigeria. However, these pockets of optimism are offset by serious concerns in the West African region, the Sahel, and in the Horn of Africa.

WhyAfrica’s Hawk Eye is on the following trends in 2024.

Conflict and coups (Africa trends in 2024)

Radical jihadists groups and political mingling by countries like Russia have fuelled conflicts in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan, with no overnight solutions in sight. These conflicts have inevitably resulted in political instability, power vacuums and power grabs, with military coups the order of the day.

With seven military takeovers in the last three years, it is no surprise that international perceptions and confidence in the entire region have taken a severe blow. It is difficult to see that this dire situation will change for the better soon. Historically, one coup is soon followed by the next and the next, which makes it problematic to have a positive outlook for this part of the world.

Coups are also contagious, not only in the West Africa Sahel region, but across the continent and in 2024 we might just witness more such events. Even countries like Zimbabwe in southern Africa and Uganda in East Africa is currently walking the tightrope.

Long term authoritarian rule in Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville) and Equatorial Guinea makes these regimes extremely vulnerable to military take-overs, while a country like Sierra Leone already experienced a failed coup late last year.

In the Horn of Africa, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continues their destructive battle for territorial control of the capital city Khartoum. The intense fighting has made the entire region unstable, and several projects in the region have ground to a halt, including in South Sudan and Ethiopia.

According to reports the RSF seems to be controlling the west of the country and the SAF the north and the east, which makes a Libya-style split of Sudan more and more likely.

Conflict in the eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is expected to escalate as the United Nations peacekeeping force pulls out of the region which has seen intensified fighting between Rwanda backed rebel group M23 and the DRC army in recent months.

In response, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided to deploy troops under the Southern African Development Community Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) to support the government of the DRC and restore peace and security in the eastern DRC.

As part of the SAMIDRC, a SADC regional force from the Republics of Malawi, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania and elements of the DRC Armed Forces are working with the Congolese Army, the Forces Armees de la Republic Democratique du Congo (FARDC), in fighting armed groups operating in the Eastern DRC. South Africa, who deployed 2900 troops, lost four soldiers within in first month of deployment.

National elections

Meanwhile, 17 national elections are scheduled to take place in Africa in 2024 (some of these have already taken place). While they are all important, WhyAfrica is keeping a close eye on what could be close-fought contests in South Africa, Botswana, Senegal (which has also seen violent clashes at the beginning of the year) Ghana and Mozambique.

Critical minerals

An increased interest by mainly the USA and the European Union, by historic African investors like China and Russia and now joined by countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the critical materials space have seen a new scramble for strategic positions in the Southern, East, and Central African regions.

Resource nationalism and export bans  (Africa trends in 2024)

The new scramble has resulted in a resurgence of resource nationalism and export bans on certain minerals as African governments realise the value of its abundant natural resources.

Moreover, the scramble has resulted in a flurry of activity and significant foreign investment into the development of critical infrastructure like roads, rail, energy, and ports as these countries search for the shortest and most efficient way to transport these commodities from pit to port.

Conversely, African governments are increasing their local content prescriptions and pushing for more beneficiation, which will be a major trend to follow in 2024.

Several countries, particularly those rich in minerals crucial for clean energy technologies and strategic industries, have implemented export bans or restrictions on raw materials.

Climate change and extreme weather events  

Another trend to keep an eye on is extreme weather events, unpredictable rainfall, and the impact of climate change across Africa. The El Niño effect has already made its impact felt in countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania, while farmers in South Africa have had the best, and worst, of both worlds (too much or too little rain).

Last week Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema  declared the country’s debilitating drought a national disaster and emergency. He said it has devastated food production and electricity generation.

According to Hichilema, 84 of the country’s 116 districts are affected by the prolonged drought. Zambia has also been battling to recover from a deadly cholera outbreak. Zimbabwe has shared a similar fate, and while reports of cholera persist, the country is facing a glaring food shortage as crops across the country fail because of extreme drought conditions.

Certain areas in Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi have been dealing with periodic, intense drought, followed by extreme rainfall, which has made a severe impact on production, especially for tobacco farmers in Tanzania.

South African farmers are still in the green, but certain parts of the country need urgent rain to ensure could grain harvests this year.

Tanzania as a premier investment destination  

Tanzania is in pole position for the top spot as premier investment destination in Africa though. This East African country under President Samia Suluhu, continues to lure foreign investors in all economic sectors.

In the first two months of this year, a host of mineral exploration companies started early-stage drilling and the country looks set for spectacular growth in 2024.

If the Tanzanian government gets adequate financing and successfully signs the deal to transport crude oil from Uganda through Tanzania with the East African Crude Pipleine (EACOP) this year, the country would be assured of surpassing Kenya as the regional powerhouse in East Africa.

USA’s increased trade in Africa

The U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa Deal Book demonstrates that the United States is catalysing significant progress in trade and investment in Africa, citing the successful closure of 547 new deals totalling an estimated value of USD14.2-billion in two-way trade and investment between the United States and African countries in 2023. 

The new figures represent an increase of 67% in the number and value of closed deals over 2022. Trade deals are expected to increase significantly in 2024.

The Deal Book provides a snapshot of partnerships and deals from U.S. and African companies and investors that harness American technology, innovation, and capital to deliver impactful and inclusive solutions that are tailored to the local market.

The global investment community is increasingly recognising Africa’s extraordinary market potential and dynamism,” states British A. Robinson, Coordinator of Prosper Africa, in the booklet’s introduction.

“The continent is home to the world’s youngest population, an asset that creates significant opportunities for viable business deals that create jobs and foster shared prosperity.”

Investing in roads and rail (Africa trends in 2024)

Infrastructure constraints continue to hamper Africa’s development. But the recent completion of several important road and rail projects will make it easier for primary producers in the agricultural and mining sectors of Southern and Central Africa to transport their products to port. Ports on the eastern and western coastlines of Africa have been upgraded and expanded recently, and the progress made in linking projects in Zambia, the DRC and Angola with potential export markets in the USA and EU is encouraging.

WhyAfrica’s Hawks Eye will be on the Lobito Corridor that links Zambia, the DRC and Angola, and which has the potential to transform this area into a powerful economic hub.

Earlier this year Ivanhoe Mines announced that its first shipment of copper concentrate from the Kamoa Kakula Copper Complex in the DRC arrived by rail at the Atlantic Ocean port of Lobito in Angola.

The rail line, also known as the Lobito Atlantic Railway Corridor or Lobito Corridor, extends 1,289km east, from the port of Lobito to the Angola-DRC border town of Luau.

The line then extends a further 450km east into the DRC, on the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer du Congo (SNCC) rail network, to Kolwezi. The line passes within five kilometres of Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex license boundary and through the company’s Western Foreland Exploration Project.

ESG concerns

The rapid development of critical infrastructure, including railway lines, roads, bridges, dams, and port expansions brings with it enormous benefits to the African continent. At the same time the construction of shiny new buildings, paved highways, and mushrooming housing developments amidst increasing urbanisation, requires more and more cement, concrete, sand, bricks, and aggregates.

All the materials used in these activities are unearthed from small-scale mining operations, quarries and borrow pits. As new roads and railway lines penetrate remote regions of Africa, the number of illegal quarries, borrow pits, ready-mix concrete and cement plants and small-scale sand and aggregate mining operations increase exponentially.

In most African countries, this industry is not regulated at all. Even in countries where they are, there are still many illegal operations resulting in untold damage to the environment, communities, and legal operators.

Moreover, even in regulated jurisdictions, there are scant data available about the environmental and social impacts, biodiversity protection, water management, carbon footprint and sustainability of this sector.

During WhyAfrica’s Road Trips through Africa over the last three years, we have visited some extremely well managed, legal quarries and ready-mix concrete plants run by exceptional people and professionals. However, we have also seen a great number of illegal borrow pits, quarries, and small-scale sand mining operations.

WhyAfrica is working on a report about the impact of this sector in Africa and will do a short article about it in the April issue of the WhyAfrica magazine. Keep an eye out for it, and if you operate in the infrastructure, ESG and regulatory environment, it might be an issue you would like to pursue.

Read more about Africa and what to expect in 2024 in WhyAfrica’s 40-page Hawks Eye Report. The report looks at the mining sector (and we give you our top 10 projects to follow in 2024), exploration, quarrying, energy, agriculture, infrastructure, ESG, environmental management, climate change, tourism and conservation in Africa.

The report will be available to download in WhyAfrica’s online shop next week. Remember, if you are a WhyAfrica member, you’ll receive the report in your inbox free of charge in additions to a long list of additional benefits. To register and pay to become a WhyAfrica member click here:   https://www.whyafrica.co.za/product/membership/

Africa trends in 2024

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 Africa trends in 2024

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