POLITICAL – Managing risks and opportunities in a fast-changing landscape

How will evolving security threats and the rise of social media affect East African politics, and what are the prospects for further political integration in the region?

Chapter Contents:

The nature of conflict in Africa is changing

  • States are having to adapt to a new landscape of security threats, in which inter-state conflict and traditional civil war have been replaced by non-state based conflict and terrorist activity.
  • Al-Shabaab will remain a major security threat across East Africa.
  • In future, high levels of poverty, large numbers of disaffected youth and climate change could trigger new conflicts.

Populism and digital technologies are creating democratic challenges

  • Around the world, democratic institutions and norms are facing challenges and civil liberties are being threatened.
  • The way citizens engage with politics is being changed by digital platforms.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance suggests the quality of governance across East Africa has improved over the last decade

  • ‘Safety and rule of law’ — while there has been deterioration on the continent as a whole, there has been some progress in East Africa.
  • ‘Sustainable economic opportunity’ — most governments across the continent are struggling to provide their citizens with the opportunity to prosper, but the business environment in East Africa has improved significantly.
  • ‘Human development’ — while there have been remarkable improvements in healthcare across the continent, the quality of education appears to be in decline.

The prospects for further political integration in East Africa appear mixed

  • Greater regional integration in East Africa appears unlikely in the short-term owing to political and institutional challenges.
  • Over the medium- and long-term, greater regional political integration in East Africa may be prompted by factors including the need to manage the effects of climate change, the discovery of oil and gas and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.