What Events Mark Year 2022 in Africa & What to Expect in 2023?
04:14 31.12.2022 (Updated: 16:34 12.04.2023)
© iStock.com / RomoloTavaniAfrica, elements of this image furnished by NASA
© iStock.com / RomoloTavani
As the year is coming to an end, Sputnik recollects the most significant events of 2022 related to the continent – and reviews those that are planned for the next year.
The year 2022 was full of turbulence and Africa was one of the focal points of the world agenda. Although still struggling with political instability, impacts of climate change and the world pandemic – and affected by the 2022 global food and energy crisis – Africa in many regards showed its commitment to peace and security, making a number of achievements on the way to prosperity.
Africa and the World
In the outgoing 2022, Africa was in the spotlight numerous times, be it the climate process, international relations – or sport.
COP27 in Egypt
In November, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, hosted the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), dubbed "the African COP" – not only because of the location, but also because of the agenda.
© AP Photo / Peter DejongSameh Shoukry, president of the COP27 climate summit, right, speaks during a closing plenary session at the U.N. Climate Summit, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Sameh Shoukry, president of the COP27 climate summit, right, speaks during a closing plenary session at the U.N. Climate Summit, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
© AP Photo / Peter Dejong
COP27 resulted in the signing of the historic "loss and damage" agreement, according to which developed and major developing countries will create a fund designated to provide compensation for poorer states affected by the climate change fallout.
African leaders and activists welcomed the decision, noting much will depend on the manner it will be implemented and keeping in mind the broken promise of the 2009 COP. At the time, rich states vowed to provide $100 billion to help developing countries least responsible for global warming to combat its effects. However, the funds never reached the recipients.
Some activists also noted there is still much work to be done on the main goal of the climate process: lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
US–Africa Leaders Summit
In December, the 2022 US–Africa Leaders Summit took place from the 13 to 15 of December in Washington, DC, uniting 49 delegations from African states as well as one from the African Union (AU).
Organized eight years after the initial summit, the second gathering was widely regarded as part of the US' efforts to counter the growing influence of China on the African continent. According to scholars, these efforts are unlikely to prove fruitful as China's main advantage is a development model based on flexibility.
The summit resulted in Washington's vows to provide Africa with at least $55 billion in investments over the next three years, to assign $2.5 billion for food aid and to lend up to $21 billion through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to low and middle-income states.
Some experts, however, remained quite skeptical over the outcome, for the previous summit brought little results – and this year's event was marked by US President Joe Biden's promise of providing $350 billion for Africa's digitalistion, which was later revealed by the White House website to be just $350 million. Thus, the amount will be 1,000 times smaller – unless the White House changes its mind again.
FIFA World Cup in Qatar
While some of the African leaders were on their American trip, African athletes were in Qatar, participating in the first FIFA World Cup to take place in a Middle Eastern country. The national teams of Senegal, Morocco, Ghana, Cameroon and Tunisia represented their continent at the tournament.
Africa made a big return after the unfortunate performance at the previous World Cup, when no African team reached the play-offs for the first time in 36 years.
This year, Morocco's Atlas Lions made a historic breakthrough, becoming the first African team to take the fourth place at the tournament. After drawing against Croatia, Morocco defeated Belgium, Canada, Spain and Portugal, before losing to France in the semi-final and then to Croatia in the third place play-off.
Senegal's Lions of Teranga also reached the knockout stage, beating the Netherlands, Qatar and Ecuador, before being eliminated by England in the Round of 16.
In 2022, African leaders continued their efforts to end devastating conflicts that plague the continent and to make Africa a place of peaceful dialogue and development. This year, peace processes on the continent resulted in several achievements, helping to prevent violence and save lives.
Guns Are Finally Silent in Tigray
On 2 November 2022, the Ethiopian government and the ethnic federalist Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) signed a ceasefire agreement after two years of warfare in the northern region.
The peace talks were hosted by South Africa and mediated by the African Union. The parties agreed to end hostilities, cooperate with humanitarian groups to continue to provide aid, restore public services and infrastructure. Later, the government's and TPLF's representatives met in Kenya and agreed on methods to implement the agreement.
The Tigray conflict started after growing tensions resulted in Tigray forces attacking military facilities of Ethiopian National Defense Force in November 2020. Both sides were accused of war crimes during the crisis, which is estimated to have caused over 500,000 deaths.
New Hopes for DR Congo
The vast Central African country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been troubled by recurring conflicts since the 1990s. In the summer of 2022, growing tensions between the Congolese government and Rwanda nearly resulted in a war. Mercifully, the countries' leaders chose peaceful discussion, initiating talks hosted by Angola.
A force which stands apart in the eastern DRC crisis is the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebel movement, which attracted the world's attention in 2022 by occupying large territories and committing acts of violence, as reported by the UN. DR Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting the group, which both Kigali and M23 deny. The rebels did not participate in any of the two peace processes, but recently declared to have had talks with government's representatives and retreated from positions as a goodwill gesture and sign of support of peace efforts.
New Approaches to Security
Peace efforts are usually successful when backed up by an effective security architecture. In 2022, several African countries preferred multipolarity and self-sufficiency in terms of security over reliance on former colonial metropoles.
End of Operation Barkhane
On 9 November, French President Emmanuel Macron declared the end of Operation Barkhane. It was initiated in 2014 to combat jihadist insurgencies in the region of Sahel, but after eight years, the Islamist threat persists. After Barkhane was terminated, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said his country's army was incapable of taking part in large-scale operations.
Although the withdrawal of French troops from Mali was completed in August 2022, some French troops remain in the Sahel region – now without the Barkhane label.
The operation was ended against the backdrop of a conflict with the new Malian government, which came to power after the 2021 military coup. The Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop accused France of supporting terrorist groups in the West African country. Besides, over the year, there was a series of anti-French – and pro-Russian – protests in countries of Sahel.
The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrel commented on the footage of Africans holding Russian flags at demonstrations. Doubting the sincerity of the protesters, he expressed a rather controversial opinion that Africans "do not know where the Donbass is and who President Vladimir Putin is." Recollecting the long history of cooperation between the USSR, later Russia, and Africa, both the Russian president and African officials pointed out that Borrel was wrong.
Peace Enforcement and Peace Keeping
According to experts, the French withdrawal from the Sahel (as well as the drawdown of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, which may follow at some point in time) can lead to emergence of a "security vacuum" in the region. To address the issue, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) plans to create a regional peacekeeping force.
The decision was announced in early December by community leaders after the annual summit. It is anticipated additional details will emerge in 2023.
It is possible the project was inspired by the creation of the EAC regional force in June, which was designated to control the highly unstable situation in the east of DR Congo, where dozens of rebel groups operate. As politicians are in talks to end violence, the regional peace enforcement mission – cooperating with the UN peacekeepers – ensures that words turn into deeds.
In February, another war-torn country in Africa - Somalia - saw the reconfiguration of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) into the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), aimed at aiding the Somali government's reconstruction efforts.
Africa has ramped up regional security efforts – and it is especially notable that these efforts are independent, arranged by intra-African organizations.
First Russian-Algerian Exercises in Algeria
Along with the increasing of Africa's self-sufficiency there is a trend towards expanding the geography of ties with other countries and strengthening cooperation in the security sphere.
Algerian Parliamentary Vice Speaker Bouteldja Allel said the anti-terrorist exercises, called "Desert Shield-2022," show the depth of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Russia sees Algeria as one of the top priority countries for military-technical cooperation in Africa, as Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu declared in 2018. In autumn 2021, the two countries' armies conducted exercises in North Ossetia, Russia, and in the Mediterranean Sea.
What Will the Coming Year Bring to Africa?
In a world changing this fast, plans are more useless, and planning is more priceless than ever. As Africa targets to continue its strife for stability, independence and well-being in 2023, Sputnik lists expectations for the new year:
South Africa's BRICS Chairship
On 1 January, South Africa will take over the BRICS chairship from China and host the bloc's events. According to South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, the country seeks to develop "intra-BRICS relations and mutually beneficial cooperation."
South Africa joined BRICS (then named BRIC – acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China), the club of the world's major developing economies, 12 years ago. Since then, experts say, the country's international prestige/capital increased greatly due to its participation in the bloc, with, among other things, the multilateral BRICS New Development Bank helping the country to address its energy problems.
In a November interview with Sputnik, Dr. Benedict Pharoe from South Africa said his country's example enhances the interest in BRICS of other African states, which desire to "form a new alliance to break away from the Western dominance."
Second Russia-Africa Summit
Both South Africa and Russia being part of the BRICS bloc is just one example of cooperation between the African continent and Russia.
In July 2023, the city of Saint Petersburg, known as Russia's "northern capital," will host the follow-up to 2019's first Russia-Africa Summit. Every African state is invited, unlike the US–Africa Summit, as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underlined. The US summit excluded countries with governments that came to power as a result of coups, as well as Eritrea, which has no diplomatic ties with the US.
According to official statements, the 2023 Russia-Africa Summit will focus on economic cooperation, as large Russian business considers Africa as a promising investment target. Of greatest interest are the spheres of energy and mining, as well as agriculture, manufacturing, transport, and infrastructure.
© AFP 2023 SERGEI CHIRIKOVRussia's President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi make a press statement following the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi make a press statement following the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, on October 24, 2019.
© AFP 2023 SERGEI CHIRIKOV
The topic of food security will also be among the priorities of the meeting, said Head of the Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Oleg Ozerov.
According to Konstantin Kosachev, deputy speaker of the highest house of Russian Parliament, there are objective prerequisites for cooperation between Russia and Africa, as the continent's population remembers the role of the Soviet Union in the decolonization process and African leaders – often alumni of Russian and Soviet universities – preserve the political will to develop relations.
Kosachev also noted that by preparing the summit, Russia enhances its efforts in the African direction, creating a special organizing committee for the preparation of the summit as well as a mechanism for regular meetings on the matter between the governmental departments.
There are also plans for further international cooperation in the security sphere. For instance, February 2023 will see joint naval exercise by China, Russia and South Africa in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, as reported by the media. The event is a follow-up to the November 2019 three-country drills under the name of Mosi.
Intra-African security efforts are also to be continued next year. To tackle the terrorist and extremist threats, the African Union plans to conduct exercises of its continental peacekeeping force – the African Standby Force – in 2023. Created in the early 2000s, the force involves military, police, and civilian contingents. The AU seeks to develop it with an emphasis on maritime security, declaring plans of holding sea exercises in the Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and Pacific Ocean.
ATMIS, the AU's mission in Somalia, although extended to combat the intensified terrorist threat, is merely a transition mission, designated to help the Somali government to become self-sustained in security matters. The force will begin the first phase of the pull-out in June 2023, with plans to complete the withdrawal by the end of 2024.
West Africa, in its turn, hopes for improved security, awaiting the creation of the ECOWAS regional force. The initiative is especially timely as the French withdrawal from Mali is coupled by plans of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) drawdown.
Following the end of Operation Barkhane, several European countries declared plans to withdraw their troops from MINUSMA. While Germany recently specified its soldiers will remain in Mali until 2024, Sweden plans to leave the West African country by June 30, 2023. The UK stated its "contingent will be leaving the MINUSMA mission earlier" than the initially planned December 2023 as Canada expressed similar intentions, later saying that smaller forces will remain in Mali for now.
UN Sustainable Development Conferences
While UN peacekeeping in Africa keeps facing obstacles, the world's biggest international organization continues its efforts in other humanitarian spheres – often concerning Africa as well.
According to the UN, "the momentum from COP27 will carry" the organization to the 2023 Water Conference, which is the first of its kind since 1977. The event is planned as a midterm review of implementation of "Water for Sustainable Development" 2018–2028 decade for action. The conference will take place on 22-24 March in New York and will be presided by the Netherlands and Tajikistan.
© AP Photo / KHALIL SENOSIA man walk through a dead maize field due to the drought, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 near the Mau forest in Kenya.
A man walk through a dead maize field due to the drought, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 near the Mau forest in Kenya.
© AP Photo / KHALIL SENOSI
The UN water programs are part of the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On 19-20 September 2023, the world's leaders will discuss its implementation, gathering at the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit. According to the UN, "the SDGs recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection."
As 2023 approaches, Africa – and the whole world – hopes to fulfill plans, although certainly preparing for surprises, which every new year brings. Sputnik wishes 2023's surprises are pleasant.
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