2014: Three Challenges Put Africa To The Test

2014: Three Challenges Put Africa To The Test
Arab terrorism will become a major challenge for African countries in 2014

AFRICANGLOBE – As Africa welcomes 2014, most African countries will greet the New Year in peace and serenity and are working in concert toward common prosperity.

On the other side, however, countries like Somalia, Central Africa, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are still rife with uncertainties and complexity, fueling worries about their security and stability.

The complicated circumstances ahead could be a prelude to the security situation on the continent throughout 2014: most of the countries would press ahead in a peaceful way, a minority would be trapped in prolonged instability and only a few would face massive bloodshed.

For Africa, three major barriers are staring it right in the face.

First, terrorism may turn into ingrained cancer of the region. Since turbulence flared up in 2011 in West Asia and North Africa, Arab terrorist forces have accelerated penetration southward. Mali’s AQMI and Nigeria’s Boko Haram, which still pose risks to WANA, have increasingly built connections with anti-government forces such as al-Shabaab in East Africa.

In September 2013, an upscale Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi was attacked by Muslim terrorists, leaving 67 dead and hundreds injured. The Royal United Services Institute cautioned that an “arc of instability” is stretching across West, North and East Africa.

And by the time various terrorist forces unite in evil, not only peace and stability of Africa will have been threatened.

Second, the long-term unrest in several African countries has brought about growing spillovers.

The outbreak of refugee flows resulting from social turmoil in South Sudan and Central Africa has imposed huge pressure on their neighboring nations.

According to the UN statistics, up to 190,000 people have been displaced since deadly clashes erupted between warring parties in South Sudan in mid-December; since March last year, deteriorating situation in Central African Republic has forced 75,000 refugees to flee to neighboring countries like Republic of Congo, which brought a lot of pressure on border management and security.

In addition, some places in Central Africa are likely to became new drug transshipment points for the “Golden Crescent” countries such as Afghanistan.

According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, seizures of heroin since 2009 are up tenfold in East Africa. The African Union officials also warned there is accumulative evidence of collusion between drug crimes and terrorism.

Third, there are growing chances of economic volatility in Africa. For many countries in the region, to construct financial firewalls and speed up economic restructuring has been put high on the agenda.

In recent years, the African economies have picked up steam as their growing ranks of middle class acted like pivotal “ballast” for peace and stability in the region.

Yet there is lack of significant improvement on the undiversified economies and heavy reliance on foreign investment and resources export.

According to African media forecasts, the US Federal Reserve’s tapering will possibly result in a shift of international capital from inflows into to outflows from Africa in 2014.

And new changes in supply and demand of oil and gas, combined with easing situations in the Middle East, will lead to a drop in oil and gas prices, media outlets estimated.

All of these factors may get Africa’s “star economies” like South Africa and Angola in trouble, as they are facing currency depreciation and decreasing values of foreign exchange reserves.

Despite the challenges, there is good reason to build up confidence in safeguarding peace in Africa. Sound development momentum has been gathered and maintained on the whole, after this region overcame all kinds of hardships in the past few years.

“The Renaissance of Africa” is coming to reality step by step and the African people’s resolve and wisdom should never be overlooked or underrated. With that in mind, the world is ready to see a united and promising Africa in the new year.