Much discussion this past year has centered on the scourge of war, and rightfully so. But the incidence of famine and food insecurity in the world are problems that are just as critical at the moment. Indeed, 2023 was a year of famine and hunger, according to the U.N. World Food Program.
In November, Liberian President George Weah astonished many observers both at home and abroad by conceding defeat to opposition candidate Joseph Boakai in the second round of the country’s presidential election, a move that stands in stark contrast to the recent coups and democratic erosion seen elsewhere in West Africa.
One year after U.S. President Joe Biden hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit, great power competition is still driving Washington’s Africa policy. So while the summit did produce some positive outcomes, engagement with civil society remains limited and human rights protection continues to be placed on the back burner.
It makes sense that a continent that is home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house many contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, burdened by conflict and beset by elites clinging to power.
Madagascar could be hovering on the brink of another political crisis after President Andry Rajoelina was declared the winner of a sham election. Amid democratic backsliding and continued French support, Rajoelina will begin his third term with popular discontent and disillusionment with the ruling elite at an all-time high.
On Oct. 31, the Biden administration restored Mauritania’s trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, despite Mauritania not having fully eradicated forced labor and slavery. A closer look at several other aspects of U.S.-Mauritania relations may shed light on the Biden administration’s decision.
Even as Chad’s leader, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, oversees a political transition toward elections planned for next year, he faces significant longer-term challenges to his rule. If he can navigate them, Deby is almost certain to win next year’s election. In the meantime, the day-to-day mechanics of repression will remain intact.
After a brief period of high expectations and progress following last year’s presidential election, Somalia continues to face familiar obstacles. President Hassan Sheikh’s government urgently needs to develop long-term policies and set realistic objectives. But consumed by the stalled war against Al-Shabaab, it has struggled to do so.