An update on the 2016 elections – November

We have news about 3 elections that took place in September-October and the 3 more that are to take place in December. 8 elections are planned for 2017.

elections-2016-_13262802_f660369e94ba62bc2d68b41feac2ebe19d9df031

For a full infographic experience click here.

  • Seychelles

After the victory of the then-opposition in September, James Michel, the then-President, had promised to stand down on October 16, 2016. He did. His former Vice-President, Dany Faure has become the new President. He should remain so for the rest of the term, until 2020.

  • Cape-Verde

The final results of the October 2nd elections gave the re-elected President Jorge Carlos Fonseca 74% of the votes.

  • Morocco

The parliamentary elections were held on October 7, 2016. The Justice and Development Party (PJD) led the results and won 125 seats out of 395. The PJD is expected to form a coalition.

Elections left to happen in 2016

  • Gambia

The Presidential election is due on December 1st, 2016.

  • Ghana

Ghanaians are expected to vote on December 7, 2016 to elect their MPs and their President. A second round is planned for the Presidential election on December 28, 2016.

  • Côte d’Ivoire

The date of the Parliamentary elections has been announced. They are due on December 18,2016.

Postponed

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

The elections are expected in 2018.

  • Elections due in 2017

There are 8 national elections planned for next year in Somaliland, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Liberia, Gambia and Algeria.

We will get back to you with a factual report of the 2016 elections early 2017.

 

Petit état des lieux de l’économie africaine en 2016

  • Un ralentissement global de l’économie en Afrique

Fin 2015, la croissance continentale était attendue à 3% pour 2016. Un an plus tard, elle ne devrait être que de 1,6%. Le taux le plus bas depuis 20 ans, soit avant la ruée chinoise vers les matières premières au début des années 2000. La baisse cette année est notamment due aux problèmes rencontrés par la platine pour l’Afrique du Sud et la baisse du prix du baril de pétrole pour le Nigéria, l’Angola, L’Algérie et l’Egypte. Ceux qu’on surnomme parfois les lions africains étaient bien fatigués.

volume-pib-africain

Chiffres de 2015. Banque mondiale. http://databank.worldbank.org/data/download/GDP.pdf

  • Des économies africaines parmi les plus dynamiques au monde

Néanmoins, certaines des économies parmi les plus dynamiques au monde sont en Afrique avec un taux de croissance supérieur à 6% : Ethiopie, Rwanda, Tanzanie, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire et Sénégal.

En parallèle de ces chiffres contradictoires, la Banque mondiale a publié son rapport annuel sur la facilité de faire des affaires et pour 2016 l’Afrique place 7 pays dans le top 100. Le rapport complet est disponible ici.

facilite

Classement 2016. Banque mondiale. http://francais.doingbusiness.org/rankings

  • Un continent d’innovation

Au-delà de la bataille des chiffres concernant les classes moyennes, n’importe quelle personne ayant voyagé dans plusieurs pays africains et sur plusieurs années pourra témoigner de l’apparition de ces classes et de la vitalité de certains secteurs économiques comme les nouvelles technologies. On estime à 70% le nombre d’Africains possédant un téléphone portable, soit près de 700 millions de personnes. Le paiement mobile, inventé au début des années 2000 au Kenya se répand comme le feu dans la brousse. Au début de 2016, on estimait à 62 millions le nombre de comptes mobiles actifs en Afrique soit 3 fois plus qu’en Asie. Ce système permet à des millions d’Africains exclus du système bancaire traditionnel d’avoir un compte pour payer et recevoir de l’argent. Il est difficile d’obtenir des chiffres fiables sur les montants totaux des transactions annuels mais on serait passé de 3 milliards de dollars US en 2010 à plus de 10 milliards en 2014.

  • Un développement humain toujours limité

Cependant, ces chiffres plutôt positifs en termes économiques, tardent à se traduire en améliorations des conditions de vie pour la majorité des africains. Cette année encore, le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement (PNUD) ne classe aucun pays africain dans le top 50 de l’Indice du Développement Humain (IDH). Le premier pays est Maurice, qui arrive 64e. Le classement est ici.

Activités de conseils/Advisory Activities

Français (english version available below)

Vous représentez un think tank, une université, une ONG, une agence de conseil, une organisation officielle, une entreprise. Vous êtes un particulier.

Vous vous intéressez à l’Afrique et vous souhaitez disposer d’une analyse unique, d’une présentation, d’une étude, d’un rapport ou d’un conseil stratégique.

Vous souhaitez être mis en contact avec des personnes de confiance sur le continent dans votre domaine d’activité.

Nous avons des compétences et des champs d’expertise pour vous.

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Contactez nous pour en savoir plus.

Thibaud Kurtz – Consultant indépendant 

@ : thibaudkurtz@gmail.com

Tel: +33 (0) 7 82 51 84 82

Lyon, France


English

Your represent a think tank, a university, a NGO, a consultancy company, an official organisation, a company. You are an individual.

You are interested in Africa and you wish to have a unique analysis, a presentation, a study, a report or strategic advice.

You want to be put in touch with trustworthy people on the African continent in your field of activities.

We have competences and expertise for you.

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Contact us to know more.

Thibaud Kurtz – Free lance consultant

@ : thibaudkurtz@gmail.com

Tel: +33 (0) 7 82 51 84 82

Lyon, France

An African Lesson for Trump – Of Acknowledging Electoral Results

On October 19, 2016, Donald Trump at the third and last debate before the USA presidential election, refused to com
mit to acknowledge and respect the official results of these elections. When asked about it by the moderator, the Republican nominee said “I will look at it at the time”. Trump’s statement is extraordinary in the US context and sound sore-losingish. One needs good reasons and strong arguments to demonstrate that an electoral process is flawed.

It is a tradition to accept the result of the election in the USA among the major parties’ candidates. It has become obvious to the point that many political observers and actors have been shocked by Donald Trump’s statement. Extremely interesting, as on December 13, 2000, Al Gore, the then Democrat candidate, eventually conceded presidential election. Article here and video statement there.

code-of-conduct_17319287_baa5f2c7d2f4ae7de458ed4efcd1c780479472edOn another side of the Earth, one can read and hear often news about disputed elections with candidates refusing to acknowledge defeat. The aim of this site is also to talk about all the elections and the other things that work well on that continent and not just the “bad” things. Many African countries have been creative regarding how to best deal with this issue and make the electoral processes more acceptable and credible.

In 1998, the newly-freed-from-Apartheid South Africa adopted an electoral act that included an “Electoral Code of Conduct” aiming at creating conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections. This code is legally binding. It puts candidates at risk of being condemned by a tribunal if they do not accept the results or refuse to challenge them in court.

Among the pillar of this code, here is the key part for today’s talk: “Registered parties and candidates must publicly condemn any action that may undermine the free and fair conduct of elections (Code 1998, 9(1)(b)). Parties and candidates must accept the results of an election or challenge those results in court (Code 1998, 4(2))”.

The African Union has then developed a Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. It was adopted in 2007 – the year of the terrible electoral crisis in Kenya. By October 2016, 10 states have ratified it. In its article 17, it states that:

Ensure that there is a binding code of conduct governing legally recognized political stakeholders, government and other political actors prior, during and after elections. The code shall include a commitment by political stakeholders to accept the results of the election or challenge them in through exclusively legal channels”.

Adopting a code does not guarantee to get peaceful elections but it helps especially if this is done through a general a credible and transparent process and where courts can be trusted.

We will keep on looking at shortcomings of the US electoral system and other lessons to learn from African examples.

Focus on African national elections in 2016

4 elections took place in August-October. 4 more are to take place before 2017 and 1 has been postponed.elections-2016-_13262802_943132f83ce4fb6b75b36ae65ab14ba4986aa860

 

 For a full infographic experience click here.

  • Zambia

zambia-electoral-results-2016Zambian voted to elect their president on August 11. The incumbent Edgar Lungu was officially re-elected with 50.35% in the first round. His challenger, Hakainde Hichilema (47.63%) contested the results. Both the Constitutional and the Supreme courts rejected his application. Sources reported that he was arrested on October 5 and charged with “seditious practices” and “unlawful assembly”. He was released the day after. The electoral results show an almost perfect geographical divide.  

Source : a well documented wikipedia page, based on the Zambian electoral commission.

  • Gabon

The Presidential election took place on August 27. The announcement of the results was delayed and eventually took place on August 31. The official results were contested in the streets and then in court. On September 24, the Constitutional Court validated the victory of incumbent President, Ali Bongo, by less than 6000 votes. International observers could not observe the compilation of results. 

  • Seychelles

The opposition coalition, LDS, won the Parliamentary elections organised early September. As a consequence of these results, James Michel, who was re-elected President in December 2015 with less than 200 votes, said he would stand down by October 16, 2016. In Seychelles, the President is both Head of State and Government. He appoints Cabinet members but they have to be approved by majority in Parliament. His Vice-President is to replace him and to remain President for the rest of the term, until 2020.

  • Cape Verde

President Jorge Carlos Fonseca won a second term on October 2nd. The preliminary results gave him nearly 75% of the votes.

Elections left to happen in 2016

  • Morocco

The parliamentary elections are due on October 7, 2016. The electoral lists were completed in August and the official campaign is on.

  • Ghana

Ghanaians are expected to vote on December 7, 2016 to elect their MPs and their President. A second round is planned for the Presidential election on December 28, 2016.

  • Gambia

The Presidential election is due on December 1st, 2016.

  • Côte d’Ivoire

The Parliamentary elections are due in December 2016.

Postponed

  • Democratic Republic of Congo

The parliamentary and presidential elections were due in November this year. Different sources report that the President of the National Independent Electoral Commission, Mr Corneille Nangaa, announced on October 1st at a meeting of the “National Dialogue” in Kinshasa, that it would take 504 days to organize the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections from July 31st, 2017, pushing the elections to November 2018. There is political tension around the dates.

 

Ebola and its potential natural niche, a survival guide for countries

 

Summary: Ebola is at home in Africa. 22 countries are potential natural hosts and a new outbreak could start there. This article looks at these countries and offers some recommendations on how to handle this risk. For a full experience of the graph included in the text, click here.

  • Bye, bye Ebola?

The news comes and goes in the fight against Ebola in Western Africa. It seems that since mid-2015, every week the victory against the disease is announced, preceding

another announce of a new case. When Sierra Leone was declared officially Ebola free on 7 November 2015, the news was celebrated with the song “Bye bye Ebola” by Block Jones featuring Freetown Uncut and its feel-good music video clip. The picture illustrating this article is a screen capture from this clip.

  • The Ebola crisis in Western Africa (2013-2016…ongoing?): unprepared countries

At the beginning of 2014, the news about Ebola and Western Africa were not good, not good at all. Thousands of kilometres away from what we thought was its natural niche – in Central Africa – Ebola hit hard 3 unprepared countries. It took months for them and external actors to start acting according to the actual threat. Close to 10,000 men and women died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The disease spread across Africa and the rest of the world with cases in Nigeria, Mali and the USA, among others. There were cases of media-fuelled panic in Western countries. There is a still a debate around the human, social and economic costs of the Ebola outbreak of 2014. Some 8,000 kms down South, a Botswana Tourism Board top staff declared that due to fears of Ebola, tourism was hit hard too in this Southern African state. It seemed that people from Europe and the US – potential tourists to Botswana – are inclined to see Africa as one united territory.

  • In Africa Football is stronger than the fear of Ebola

In Africa itself, Ebola had some interesting collateral damage. In September 2014, while a case had been confirmed in Senegal, Botswana hosted the Western African State national football team for a qualifying game to the African Cup Of Nations. The Botswana authorities allowed the Senegalese team to enter its territory, while they banned travel to and from the DRC blocking copper trucks from Katanga to drive through Botswana towards South Africa. This ban prevented also diplomats from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) based in Botswana to meet in Kinshasa, DRC, to discuss peace and security matters. Some Ebola cases were reported and confirmed in the Equatorial Province – more than 2,000 Km from the Katanga Province and around 1,000 Km from Kinshasa. The WHO declared that the Congolese outbreak was unrelated to the one in Western Africa.

  • A huge impact

The impact in the three main Ebola-hit countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia – has been huge: socially, humanly and economically. Their families will miss the deceased. Schools were closed.

The main reason for the disease to have time to hit these countries so hard is that it took close to 3 months to officially identify Ebola as the cause of the outbreak. The lack of readiness and capacities of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia helped the disease to spread. Since its identification in 1976, Ebola outbreaks and its different stains only took place in Central Africa, mostly in the DR Congo. It seems logical to be surprised, thousands of kilometres from Central Africa to expect such a deadly disease to appear there. DRC manages to handle Ebola outbreak quite well due to its experience – they do not lose months to think that it could be Ebola and let the disease spread – and its poor infrastructure network in a gigantic country make it easier to set up an efficient quarantine zone.

The Western African outbreak is likely to have started in Guinea with a zoonotic transmission to a human and then spreading among humans in the area of Guéckédou close to where Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone meet.

EbolaGuinea

This a map published for the French Press Agency (AFP) at the beginning of 2014.

  • Back to basics: the first case of transmission to the human

The transmission of a disease from a host animal to a human is entitled “a zoonotic transmission”. The natural reservoir host of Ebola virus remains unknown but there are some suspects. In a study published last year, some Oxford scientists (and others) mapped 22 African countries where there is an environmental context for zoonotic transmission of Ebola. Let’s call that group the Group of 22.

There are 7 countries with recorded cases of zoonotic transmission: Congo, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Uganda. Let’s call that group the Group of 7.

According to this study there are 15 African countries zoonotic transmission recorded yet: Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Tanzania, Togo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Malawi. Let’s call that group the Group of 15.

  • Some recommendations

In order to prevent those 22 countries to have a first undetected case for weeks or months allowing Ebola to spread, here are a couple of recommendations.

  • What: to develop a preventive strategy and an action plan to cope with the outbreak and train all medical officers in the countries. Who: the health authorities of these 15 countries.
  • What: to develop an African preventive strategy and an action plan and sensitize African national health authorities. Who: the African Union (AU) with the support of the African bureau of the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • What: to develop a network of laboratories in the 22 countries with the expertise to identify the stains of Ebola. Who: the health authorities of these 22 countries.
  • What: in case of an outbreak, to have international African missions made up of African medical staffs to be deployed in order to build capacity and show continental solidarity. Who: this could be done under the patronage of the African Union.

The post-Western African Ebola outbreak era could be used to promote African solutions to African matters with the support of any willing international actors via their development agencies and support via the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is important to highlight the fact there is a lot of know-how in Africa about how to deal with that matter.

The political birth of a generation?

Students demonstrating against university fees and wearing white t-shirt the WITS University Student Representative Council president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa. Photo credit: AFP / Marco Longari
Students demonstrating against university fees and wearing white t-shirt the WITS University Student Representative Council president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa. Photo credit: AFP / Marco Longari

The movement: Fees must fall

As we have been looking at the massive youth demographic change currently taking place in Southern Africa, the youth of South Africa has taken to the streets to protest against university fees. They have been rallying behind the slogan “#feesmustfall” asking for free education at university level.

The young protesters showed signs of high daring political strategies to reach their objective. They were not afraid to try to storm the gates of the Parliament in Cape Town on 21st October 2015 and then to demonstrate two days later, en masse in front of the Union Buildings, seat of the Government and the Presidency, in Pretoria. Each time the police stopped them but their messages and symbols overcame the teargas and fences.

The balance of power: the youth is taking over

There is a high level of perception of corruption in South Africa as well as real inequalities. If Apartheid fell in the early 1990s the new generation of youth going to universities now is born after this. They have not experienced it but have an acute sense of racism and a strong will to move on. South Africans are masters of demonstrations and know how to go to the streets to be heard. June 16, Youth day, is still widely celebrated and refers to the youth of the 70s taking the streets against the Apartheid regime and its decision to impose the Afrikaans language in schools in 1976. If you add this to the fact that one young South African in two is unemployed, you get an interesting cocktail. Furthermore, in the South society of 2015 young people (18-34) represents more than one potential voter in two (53%). The 19-29 year old group is made up of more than 10 million people in a country with a total population of approx. 55 million (CIA world fact book for 2014). The median age is 26 y.o. Meaning that one South African in two is between 1 day and 26 y.o. The youth is a powerful and large group in that society. No doubt that South African leaders must have taken this into account.

The born free (from Apartheid) generation must sound like European baby boomers sounded in the late 1960’s: thank you to the elders for what you have done (putting an end to Apartheid on the one hand and rebuilding Europe on the other) but times have changed and we want something else (same thing: more opportunities to live their lives and being acknowledged by the glorious preceding generations).

On Friday, 23rd October 2015, the South African President, Jacob Zuma announced that the freeze of fees increase in 2016. He used twitter to do so. He is a smart politician and he gives the impression of listening to the youth without giving exactly what they want which could help divide the movement and push the students back into the classrooms.

This is not what the youth wanted but it is still a victory. What is happening now in South Africa should not be underestimated. It is nothing less but the political birth of a generation. This is the realization that politically, the youth matters. This generation is becoming the largest in its society and will have huge influence over the official leaders long before they occupy positions of leaderships themselves.

Youth Voter in South Africa

Unlike other Southern African countries where elections are just for the façade, elections in South Africa do matter. The ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) sees its comfortable electoral results dropping constantly (from 69% in 2004 to 65% in 2009 and 62% in 2014). It is now attacked on the left by the ex-leader of its youth league, Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Party. He organised a well-attended march on October 27, 2015, for Economic Freedom in the streets of the economic capital, Johannesburg. A couple of tens of thousands of people gathered on that day under his banner. The ANC’s star shines less and less brightly. They have lost at least 450,000 members between 2012 and 2015 according to themselves. They should be 769,000 now. Many parties across the world would dream of that number but the trend is negative and accelerating. In this context, they surely cannot afford to be perceived as going against the larger group of the country: the youth.

The icons: great stuffs to get the media on your side

The student movement attracted a lot of attention nation-and worldwide. Sébastien Hervieu from the Le Monde, the French newspaper, called it the “South African Students’ Spring”. South Africa is a well connected country and many of the demonstrators seem to be twitter addicted. A couple of iconic pictures did a lot for the cause of the movement. Some young fresh faces have emerged like those of Mcebo Dlamini with Shaera Shaeera Kalla, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa and Vuyani Pambo. The picture I chose for this post is indeed iconic and spread across pro-and social media faster than a bush fire on a hot dry day of the South African summer.

An agitated but exciting future

Of course the youth is not a monolithic group thinking the same thing and having the same political orientations. We still have to get accustomed to requests rising from the youth and the potential of tensions they carry. Adopting a confrontational strategy will be the worst choice by the South African leaders but showing authority will be key to demonstrate the strength of the rule of law and the institutions. This new state of the balance of power within the South African society will inevitably have for consequence a more pro-youth political agenda, a rejuvenation of the political elite and a change of methods by decisions-takers to remain relevant to the largest group within their population.

It is also likely to see techniques being developed and implemented to limit the influence of the most turbulent sides of the new generations. One can think of offering top positions at party, government or parastatal levels to the leaders of the movements. Offering some key and visible reforms benefiting a large group of the youth would be useful to reduce the influence of the most radical activists. Another usual and efficient technique is to use the electoral system to counterbalance the weight of a turbulent political group that is urban based by a less turbulent group in rural areas.

Eventually, the situation in South Africa is watched carefully by students in countries like Namibia and Botswana especially which due to historical, economic, media and personal links. It would not be surprising that the debate around the costs of studying reappears in those countries in a way or another in the coming weeks and months influenced by what is happening in South Africa. The Botswana College of Agriculture was closed at the end of October 2015 after violence took place during a movement of students asking for better living conditions. These movements are already frequents and could be nourished by the ones next door.

The coming months and years in South Africa and the region at large are extremely exciting and major changes are to happen.

Youth – Southern Africa and the big demographic change

Images of students’ demonstrations against fees are common in Southern Africa and they are important, as they are one of the tensions brought by a massive demographic change in the region. If you imagine, three young citizens from the region: Kagiso in Botswana, 20 year-old, Cecilia in Malawi, 15, and Thabo in South Africa, 22, have all something in common. They are part of the largest group population in their respective countries. There is a global youth wave that has started to flood the region and more widely the whole continent. South African youth showed how powerful they could be when in thousands they demonstrated against university fees increase in front of the Parliament and the State building in October 2015. Jacob Zuma, the SA president, announced the freeze of the fees increase as a matter of fact.

For a full experience – click here

A youth wave on the go 

55%[1] of citizens in age of voting in SADC[2] region are between 18 and 34 years old. 61%[3] of SADC citizens are between 0 and 24 years old. The majority of people in this region are born after the end of the Cold War, and more and more after the end of the civil wars in Mozambique, Angola and the end of Apartheid in South Africa – there they are called “the born free”. Indian Ocean apart, the oldest population in the region is in South Africa where half of the population is below 26 years old. Many countries are even younger like Zambia where half of the inhabitants are under 17 years old!

Youth: an old political concept

Youth is an old political concept. It has always been understood as a tool to promote change when politically controlled to fight the colonial and the white minority regimes in the region. It can also be perceived as a group that agitates for change. In 1950, Nelson Mandela became the head of the African National Congress Youth League of South Africa (ANCYL) that was founded in 1944 – already. In 1976, the youth of Soweto stood up against apartheid regime and up to this day, June 16 is remembered and celebrated across Southern Africa as a tribute to the commitment of the youth against oppression. More recently, Julius Malema has emerged politically by heading the ANCYL too.

youth-in-southern-africa_20151102191835_1446491915533_block_0

Political opportunities and challenges in Southern Africa

The current demographics in this part of the continent are opening a period of social tensions and opportunities. Considering youth as a minority group within a population while they are by far the majority will, obviously, be a political mistake. All ruling and opposition parties are wondering how to handle this situation and how to make the most of it to remain in power or to access it.

These demographics will test political and socio-economic systems in the region. The Western world and Japan in the 1960s and more recently Arabic countries faced similar tensions. The one thing it taught us is that there is no single answer but the more solid a system is, the more stable it is.

Mid-August this year, in Botswana, Heads of State of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed a Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment. This is a new development showing that rulers in the region understand that demographics are changing quickly and that they need to do something about it to remain relevant.

A regional divide: urban versus rural Southern Africa

However the breadth of the change is still to be well assessed across the region. Furthermore, one can observe changes in behaviour and many societies are also evolving towards more individualistic behaviours with less appetite for the community approach and a certain respect for hierarchy. It is interesting to see many ruling parties in the region losing ground in urban centres where the youth is more present and more educated. If you check the graphs attached to this text, you can notice the Southern states and Angola have a relatively high percentage of urban population (more than 60%) while the rest of the sub-region varies from very to extremely rural like in Malawi (84% of the population live in rural areas). This would require a country-by-country study but one can assume that social structures controlled by the elders operate better in rural areas than in urban centres where competing structures are present.

A test of the ruling parties

In any case, the best way to deal with these major demographic changes should be about embracing them. In South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, all the ruling parties are facing a similar challenge in that sector: reinventing themselves beyond the topic of the Struggle for independence and against White-minority rule to seduce the “born-free”. Obviously some disarray and disappointment is not to be excluded from the older generations that fought a tough fight to be able to rule their own countries. It must be something similar to what European parents felt in the 1960s when their kids who had many more opportunities made them understand they would not listen to them just quietly.

youth-in-southern-africa_20151103192436_1446578676479_block_1In DRC and Angola, political youth activists not at the order of the ruling systems have been jailed without any or with little  legal basis, proving a certain level of fear from the rulers. The Arab spring brings some clues about another demographic change and how different regimes resisted it. In Tunisia, the system fell but the country has remained more stable than some of its neighbours like Libya or Egypt. It could be thanks to a better flexibility and inclusiveness of the new political regime that has so far enabled Tunisia to cope better with the situation. In other countries, the system relied on a strong security system to regain control or maintain it like in Egypt and Algeria. It is also a question of internal and external factors of instability and capacity for the youth to actually be violent and the security sector to follow them or crack down on them.

Testing the current political systems

The political tests have already started. In Botswana last year, during the general elections and the primaries preceding them, a major generational change took place in the ballot boxes. This was confirmed in the general elections in October 2014 with a majority of MPs being below 50 – which is still considered as young in political terms. 32 out of 57 MPs were elected for the first time. This is a massive renewal of the political representatives especially as the ruling party remains the same. It is a rare combination showing as well the capacity of the ruling party in Botswana to adapt. The electoral system in that country has proved to be able to absorb the tension so far.

In some countries like in Botswana the relative power of the youth in the demographics is also a consequence from HIV-AIDS as the generations between 35 and 55 are less numerous, therefore increasing the percentage of those below 25.

The lines I am writing are maybe not of such news to many actors in the region. Many politicians seem to have understood the importance of the youth for their own future. Ian Khama, the Botswana President has appointed a very dynamic and very close person to him as the minister of youth: Thapelo Olopeng. Although he is in his 50s, he is a newcomer to politics and has brought a fresh and energetic style. Since the elections last year, he has been one of the most active ministers in Khama’s cabinet, launching many initiatives on youth employment. He is also very present on social media and guess which part of the population uses these media the more?

The flexibility of the different regimes in Southern Africa will be tested.

For regimes in the region, solidity facing this wave will come from the strength of the flexibility of a democratic system of the effective control over the security sectors. Without one or the other, it is going to be difficult. Nobody is protected from some sort of tensions and it is better to be prepared for it.

Youth, wealth, perception of inequality and opportunities

There is clear divide in the Southern African region in terms of economic wealth. The countries with the biggest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are also those with the lowest poverty rates but with high inequalities – scientifically captured by the high Gini coefficient. It is a paradox creating a fertile ground for tensions. The paradox is that the richest countries in the region are those where the youth is the most educated but face the highest levels of unemployment. In South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the region, 62% of the region GDP, one citizen in two is under 26 years old and youth unemployment is at 51.5%[4]. No political party can ignore this factor in order to win elections but also to rule. In Madagascar, the socio-economic situation is the opposite: lower level of education, higher level of poverty but officially only 3.8% unemployment.

One of the criteria that will determine the capacity to handle the demographics wave is inequality. It is about the perception of an acceptable sharing system for the pieces of the wealth cake. Another criterion is the urbanization. One has to take into account education and the economic diversification. In South Africa and Botswana, the numbers of years actually spent at school are superior to 7 years but the vast majority of SADC it is less than 7 years with the lowest being in the DRC with only 3 years. The ability of the economic system to integrate these youngsters and to provide them with jobs is fundamental. The level of expectation and potential frustration comes also from the level of education.

Tensions on the rise to be expected but not necessarily crises to happen

Each generation has its own set of values and way of doing things. They can clash but they can find their own space too. Changes will happen but there should be room for everyone. The Red Cross was decried by European Baby Boomers who founded another kind of non-state actors with Doctor Without Borders in 1971. In 2015, both organisations still exist. The Red Cross has not disappeared. It has evolved. The lesson is that it is possible to accommodate everyone and that the older generations have nothing to fear.

Regimes with some space for the youth, a disciplined and well controlled security force – in case of social tension turning sour – a certain level of affordable education, of job opportunities and some good governance will be in the better situation to handle the youth wave that is now flooding the region.

[1] Based on data from 2014 from the CIA World FactBook – consulted in October 2015

[2] SADC is the Southern African Development Community. It is made up of 15 countries: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

[3] Based on data from 2015 and 2013 from the UN consulted in October and November 2015

[4] Data from UNDP HDR report 2015 – for 2013