The year’s agenda was packed with an eu-au summit and the launch of a European External Investment Plan (eip), as well as Africa featuring on the G7 and the G20 agendas – both chaired by European countries. The year also marked the tenth anniversary of the Joint Africa-eu Strategy, which had been welcomed at the time as a fundamental shift towards a more equal partnership, and a move from “aid to trade and investment”. It is telling that ten years later the eu’s discourse was advocating a similar shift, with the eu’s High-Representative for Foreign and Security Policy arguing in September that the eu had made a shift from doing things “for” to doing things “with” Africa, or put differently “from the aid perspective to the partnership perspective”.

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Long-time president, José Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down after 38 years in power. He was succeeded by João Lourenço in the August elections. Although the ruling party continued to dominate politics after contested election results, this was a momentous change that brought about fresh political dynamics toward the end of the year. Nonetheless, the economic crisis persisted, which also reduced Angola’s diplomatic clout, and the overall human rights situation remained dire.

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Politics remained focussed on President Patrice Talon’s activities, despite his attempts to delegate public appearances to government members. Talon, who had assumed office in 2016, continued with ambitious reform projects including constitutional amendments and economic liberalisation. These project met resistance in parliament and from labour unions. The economy received tailwinds from increased agricultural production and economic recovery in neighbouring Nigeria, as well as from regional and global financial institutions that trusted in the new government’s reform capacities.

The domestic political landscape remained stable throughout the year. This being the last full year of President Ian Khama’s presidency, his government maintained its priority areas – job creation, eliminating poverty, improving funding for education, eradicating mother-to-child transmission of hiv, and combating corruption. A major domestic development was the conclusion of opposition cooperation talks. The country’s foreign policy continued unchanged, and there were no major changes on the socio-economic front.

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Terrorist activities grew in 2017, particularly in the northern Sahel region where dozens of small-scale attacks targeted security forces, schools and local traditional leaders. An attack also took place in downtown Ouagadougou, claiming the lives of 18 individuals and marking the second such attack in the capital in less than two years. The military joined those from Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad to form the newly operational G5 Sahel counter-terrorism joint task force, which conducted its first mission in the Liptako-Gourma region where the borders of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet. President Kaboré also sought to strengthen ties with several bilateral partners during the year. During many of his foreign trips, Kaboré highlighted the economic growth that Burkina Faso had experienced in 2016 and 2017. However, the opposition and several labour unions challenged the government during the year, expressing their frustrations with the lack of qualitative change, despite strong economic growth. The 25th bi-annual Pan-African Film and Television Festival, fespaco, took place in Ouagadougou, once again attracting travellers and movie-goers from around the continent and the world.

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Compared with the previous two years, 2017 was a transition year for the cndd-fdd government. The violence triggered by President Nkurunziza’s pursuit of a third presidential term in 2015 had significantly scaled down. As Nkurunziza had both contained internal party dissidence and suppressed or side-lined various pockets of civic, political and armed opposition, the government and ruling cndd-fdd elite started looking ahead again. Preparations for the long announced constitutional reform and the 2020 elections were the most notable indications of this shift. This is not to say that the crisis was over. The political landscape remained marked by severe tensions between the cndd-fdd and the various opposition outfits. Political violence, while less intensive, continued to occur. The government had to introduce controversial measures to mitigate the effects of alarming economic conditions. And relations with Rwanda, Belgium, the eu and the un remained fraught with tension.

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In January, the ruling ‘Movimento para a Democracia’ (MpD) re-elected Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva unopposed as party leader. In the same month, and despite having lost two consecutive elections in 2016, Janira Hoppfer Almada was also re-elected unopposed as leader of the opposition ‘Partido Africano para a Independência de Cabo Verde’ (paicv). The government authorised the heavily indebted national airline ‘Transportes Aéreos de Cabo Verde’ (tacv) to take out three loans from commercial banks to cover operational and current expenses. In August, tacv’s domestic flights were taken over by the Canary airline Binter Cabo Verde, while Icelandair assumed the management of the airline’s international flights. As in previous years, the tourism sector continued to grow significantly.

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The crisis between the government and the country’s two English-speaking regions that had begun in late 2016 worsened over the months and turned into an armed conflict involving guerilla attacks on the security forces. These acts of violence became President Paul Biya’s main problem as he appeared to be preparing to run for the presidential election of 2018. In the northern part of the country, the militant group Boko Haram continued its sporadic attacks against the civilian population. On the economic front, oil production declined. Though less affected by the fall in commodity prices than the other countries in the region thanks to the diversification of its economy, Cameroon was forced to conclude a loan agreement with the imf.

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Overall, the year combined an accelerated economic crisis for most countries of the sub-region with on-going heavy violence touching three countries, with Cameroon, a new-comer, seeing severe armed confrontation. Heads of state of the cemac area finally cleared the way for the free movement of people within the community, but doubts remained about whether this would have game-changing effects in a space exhibiting little complementarity of national economies.

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The population faced another disastrous year with the number of idps and refugees continuing to increase as a result of renewed fighting in various parts of the country; food insecurity hit nearly half of the population. The elected government in conjunction with international actors managed to secure the vital Bangui-Douala corridor, but fully controlled only the south-west. In the centre, the south-east and the north-west, new deadly confrontations, often involving unexpected coalitions of armed movements, could not be prevented, even by international peacekeepers who sometimes faced outright popular hostility. Efforts to prepare the justice system to deal with past crimes against humanity were taken, but did not yet yield results.