Amid the seemingly unyielding resistance campaign and the equally steadfast Gnassingbe administration, the accusatory talk has given rise to concerns of brinkmanship and the potential militarisation of a fervent yet unarmed opposition.
Sustained local engagement by the political opposition in both southern and northern regions has given the anti-government protest movement fresh momentum, yet a fall of the government is still unlikely as long as the military continues to support the regime.
Despite continuing disruptive protests in major cities and inventive new ways to circumvent a block on social media applications and other forms of telecommunications, President Faure Gnassingbe still retains the loyalty of the military, thus limiting the probability of his ousting.
Another round of possibly violent demonstrations and counter-protests are likely in the capital and countrywide in the next week; yet the dominance of the ruling family’s Kabyé ethnic group within the armed forces ensures that there is little chance of this crucial institution turning against the incumbent.
A trade dispute with South Africa over US chicken imports last year and an ongoing disagreement between the US and East African countries over used clothing imports indicate that some African countries are increasingly willing to forego privileged US market access, while the US government may move to repeal multilateral trade terms in favour of bilateral deals with selected African countries.
Devolution of the country’s regions is aimed at thwarting the opposition’s electoral chances ahead of upcoming local and legislative elections, raising the risk of a repeat of anti-government protests and associated violence in the coming year.
Increasingly frequent outbreaks of unrest indicate that intensifying socio-economic concerns pose elevated protest risks, which will cause business disruption and pose risk of injury to bystanders and collateral damage to property.
While it is still too early to assess the longer term implications of a Trump presidency on Africa, trade agreements such as AGOA and security cooperation are unlikely to be significantly affected, yet various indicators point to risk of even slower African economic growth due to a stronger dollar and pledges to cut US foreign aid commitments.
The rise of digital financial services in Africa will prove to be an exciting growth opportunity, although will be constrained to key consumer markets and face significant regulatory hurdles.
- EXX Africa director Robert Besseling moderated a panel on Africa’s commodity rollercoaster at GTR Commodities in Geneva hosted by Global Trade Review (GTR)
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