The extractive industries led by the oil and gas will continue to dominate events in the continent, as was always the case, over the centuries. Minerals that would be needed much in the future such as cobalt, nickel, manganese, copper, coltan, rare earths and even sand, will dominate and the competition for these products will only exasperate the continent, as it is, fortunately or unfortunately, endowed with all these riches, which the world needs.
The search and hence competition for oil and gas industries have now reached the Horn of Africa, and the East and Central Africa regions. It has already led to a suffering of the populations over the past three decades and this is not expected to slow down, but to increase and weigh down on the affected regions. New conflicts in regions that were thought to be stable has now cracked and splintered. Ethiopia is one such country. Other than Somali troubles, the country enjoyed, relatively a peaceful environment throughout the past century, but it is being tipped over and the year 2022 does not hold well for Ethiopia, according to many.
However, a new phenomenon is shaping up and that is a co-operation among the states of the Horn of Africa, which have been at each other’s throats for over a century. A new conglomerate is taking shape and that is the Horn of Africa States (“HAS”), which is the creation of a greater Horn of Africa consisting of Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. The new entity, which will operate much like the European Union, is to shield the region from being individually targeted, by the menacing forces beyond. HAS is to be an economic and a political partnership of the member countries.
At present only Djibouti is outside the fence, but the other three are working together towards that goal. HAS enjoys a true historical background, which witnessed that it always remained an important region of world affairs from time immemorable, including but not limited to trade and empire-building. It enjoyed and still enjoys a strategic location, coveted by many a nation, outside the region and it also always enjoyed a military prowess, that was comparable to nations that existed throughout history, and we are referring to ancient Egypt, ancient Persia, the Greeks, and the Romans and even during the Islamic domination of the world.
The Horn of Africa and the mother continent, Africa, are looking at a new year that may not be much different from those of the past century or centuries and that is, international interference, in its affairs. We present below our general thoughts on what we see as to what the year 2022 holds for Africa, from the perspective of the people of the continent:
- The Covid-19 pandemic will continue to weigh on Africa, taking into consideration the low vaccination rates, the gatekeeping of vaccines from the sources, and the travel restrictions, thereof, into and out of it.
- The continuing and growing competition among the major powers of the world on Africa’s resources and hence impact on its governing and political systems will continue to pull down the continent, this time ever more heavily, because of the fear of the West for losing its supposed turf to the new and growing powers such as China, India, Turkey, and the moneyed West Asian countries.
- The hotspots will continue to be hotspots, and such are the regions of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, etc.) and the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, etc.). The ongoing conflicts will be further exasperated by the continuing competition, between the United States and China, with the Europeans and the Russians trailing behind them. Turkey has found itself, new markets for its growing industrial power and would not let it go easily, while the Chinese will continue to be the biggest investor in the region.
- The Southern Africa region will fare well during 2022 as it comes back to an economic growth cycle. Southern Africa will stay on a growth trajectory, although this hinges on how vaccination against covid-19 will be rolled out. The region’s economy will continue to grow. According to the African Development Banking Group (AFDB), the region is expected to grow at some 2% on average. Zimbabwe will remain the weakest economy as it is marred by hyperinflation. Namibia will grow at some 6.3%, while other countries will recover from deficits and non-growth situations. SADC is now stipulating its common parliament and overall, the region, is generally expected to fare well during the year.
- Human migration will continue to weigh on West and Central Africa, despite being some of the richest real estate in the world. Some evil forces must be working on those regions. It is difficult to explain, why people must leave a land that can feed millions more than is already there.
- The markets for Africa’s resources, expand and this may help Africa to alleviate some economic pressures. Generally, as Europe, the Americas including the south, continue to decelerate, Africa will continue to accelerate, albeit at a slow rate.
- Africa’s technology is expected to grow as the young population adopts the digital revolution of the world information and chain supplies, thereof.
- The Horn of Africa will take center stage in Africa’s malaise, as the conflict in Ethiopia, involving such powers as the USA and China, continue to expand their involvement. The USA, some nine months ago, appointed a special envoy, Jeffry Feltman, who recently advised, he would leave the post after having failed to sway the region in favor of the USA and the West. He will be replaced by a more veteran and field-experienced envoy, David Satterfield, who is currently the USA Ambassador to Turkey. The Chinese have also announced to be appointing a new special envoy for the region, denoting even more, the importance of the region. Maybe we shall see the Russians also appointing a special envoy or for that matter Turkey or India and others. The Ethiopia conflict, is therefore, expected to expand or at least linger on during the coming year 2022.
- Somalia’s governing system, a system totally messed up by the desires and ill-wishes and blatant interference of some countries, including some newly moneyed West Asian countries as well as some African countries as tools for others, will continue to bring in flashpoints during the year. But a new administration will come in during the year, despite it being staged and staggered, unlike any other election process in the world. As usual, the United Nations will continue to discuss in international platforms about the famines and droughts of Somalia and how most of the population will die of hunger. We ask ourselves, is it natural hunger or induced hunger? It certainly is the latter for they were talking about this hunger for the past thirty years and the population is still growing and not dying. When would they stop lying? They should have taught the continent, if they were genuine, how to fish, although, they did not need them to be taught anything, anyway.
- The South Sudan conflict will continue to linger on. Why shouldn’t it? The United Nations has appointed Nicholas Haysom as its envoy to the country and this gentleman, was chased away by the Federal Government of Somalia, when he was caught interfering in the country’s fragile governing system, to disable an already disabled system. South Sudan, will, therefore, continue as a result, to suffer in the coming year and the usual malfateurs will continue to be blamed such as famines and droughts, poverty, and tribal fighting, using the latest and modern weaponry, despite the claimed poverty in the country. South Sudan was extracted from Sudan and has not since enjoyed one peaceful day. Is this natural or some evil conspiracy is being executed in the country?
- Sudan, the mother country of South Sudan, is also suffering the same fate as its southern child. Military coup after another, is still the modus operandi of the governing system and the troubles of the population, because of a messed up governing system, which continues to wreck the nation. Sudan is some 65 years old and out of this, it spent some 52 years under a military rule. How does one expect it to transition to a civilian democratic rule overnight?
- In the rest of Africa, we see autocratic rulers, presiding over their populations for decades. Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroun, Al Sisi of Egypt and before him Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and so on and so forth. What are they teaching their future leaders? That it is all fine to impose oneself on a population. Bad apples spoil the whole and, indeed, these bad apples in the continent, have messed up it up, for its future generations, for they will also do the same – impose themselves on the populations through sheer force and other malevolent means.
The African continent fed the world throughout the ages through its free labor and material resources. It enriched Europe and the Americas and now the Chinese and other Asians are coming to the continent for their share. The question is, neither asks, what the Africans want. This remains the main concern of the continent in the year 2022, as it always was. A tiny country cannot negotiate with a country that is home to over 1.4 billion people. Africa should regionalize and create new boundaries for themselves leaving the old colonial boundaries behind, in the relics of history. It is time the AU law on boundaries was revisited.
*Dr. Walhad writes on the Horn of Africa economies and politics. He can be reached at [email protected]