From elections, coups and peace deals to U.S. reengagement with Africa, drought and the impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine, 2022 was an eventful year for Africa, capped by a historic sports feat.
Thirteen African countries held elections in 2022. Of these, three held presidential elections: Somalia, Angola and Kenya. Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Nigeria held national assembly, regional and local elections. The rest include the Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Tunisia had a referendum and local elections in July and December respectively.
In Kenya, William Ruto, 56, who as vice president had a falling out with outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, defeated fifth-time presidential hopeful Raila Odinga, 77, in a largely peaceful election on Aug. 9.
Ruto polled 50.5%, forcing Odinga to once again turn to the country’s Supreme Court with claims of "criminality." The court upheld Ruto’s win.
In Angola, incumbent João Lourenço, leading the ruling Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), to clinched a second term in the Aug. 24 elections.
The MPLA which had been in power for nearly half century, won only 51.17 % of the vote in the elections, the party's poorest showing since the first democratic vote in the former Portuguese colony in 1992.
Leading opposition party the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) leader Adalberto Costa Júnior, 60, also contested the results citing electoral irregularities, but the Constitutional Court rejected the claim.
In July, Tunisians voted on a new constitution promoted by President Kais Saied, a year to the day after he axed the government and froze parliament in a move seen by critics as a power grab. The referendum was adopted, giving him expansive powers at the expense of parliament and the judiciary.
Parliamentary elections in July only drew just a little over 11% of voters, with critics calling it another descent from democracy even as the Tunisian president downplayed low voter turnout.
Russia-Ukraine War's Impact on Africa
The Kremlin’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24, did not only draw global condemnation, but Africa also continues to be hit by the conflict. The continent depends on the both nations for foods like wheat, sunflower oil, corn and fertilizer.
Russia closed access to the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea to Ukraine, which borders both waters, when the war began.
Moscow’s move, along with strong sanctions imposed by Western nations against Russia, effectively stopped the normal shipment of grain and other foodstuffs to Africa.
For Africans, the impact was twofold: the price of food commodities soared and essentials became more scarce — both heightening food insecurity.
Akinola Adeoye at the University of Johannesburg described Moscow's attempt at"using food diplomacy to establish some international legitimacy" as "blackmail."
Ethiopia Peace Pact
After two years of war, Ethiopia's federal government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) agreed to end hostilities in peace talks facilitated by the African Union in South Africa.
In March, the federal government announced a truce to allow humanitarian aid to reach war-torn Tigray.
But hostilities continued between the warring parties in a conflict that is estimated to have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced many to seek refuge in neighboring Sudan.
In September, Tigrayan leaders accepted African-Union sponsored peace talks in Pretoria.
By November, both sides agreed to a "permanent permanent cessation of hostilities."
Ethiopia’s federal government in December sent a high-level delegation to Mekelle for the first time since the war began.
The TPLF commended the government’s move "to green light the long overdue restoration of services," calling the talks "fruitful" as implementation of the peace agreement continues.
On Dec. 28, Ethiopia's national carrier Ethiopian Airlines resumed commercial flights to Tigray after an 18-month shutdown.
Two military takeovers occurred in Burkina Faso in January and October along with a failed coup plot in Guinea Bissau in February. In December, The Gambia also announced it had foiled a coup plot and arrested some soldiers.
The January Burkinabee coup was led by Lt. Col Henri-Paul Sandago Damiba overthrowing the government of elected-President Christian Marc Kabore. Damiba would be later toppled by a relatively unknown 34-year-old Ibrahim Traore.
Traore said failure to tackle a seven-year jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven nearly 2 million people from their homes, led to the power grab — the same reason Damiba attributed for toppling Kabore. Both West African nations are part of four — including Sudan and Mali — now sanctioned by the regional Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
The Gambia has launched an "investigative panel" to probe the coup attempt.
The Red Sea Resort of Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt hosted COP27, the U.N.’s Climate Change conference in November. After hours and hours of deliberations which extended the duration of the two-week conference, a ''loss and damage'' fund to help countries tackle the effects of the climate crisis was approved by wealthier nations.
Africa has been battling the effects of the climate crisis despite contributing less than 4% of the world's carbon dioxide global emissions. Wealthier nations like China, United States, India, Russia and Japan contribute 80%.
Climate activists pointed to increased droughts in parts of the continent like Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria, which forced thousands out of their homes, and rising food insecurity as some of the consequences of the climate crisis.
Analysts have hailed the historic establishment of the fund.
U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
For the first time in eight years, Washington hosted almost 50 African leaders for its U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as it sought to deepen what the White House called a "21st century partnership with Africa." U.S. President Joe Biden invited 49 heads of state and the African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Four countries — Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea — were not included because they lacked good standing with the 54-nation AU bloc. Biden committed a total of $70 billion over the next three years to boost trade and investment, power Africa’s digital economy, tackle the climate and food crisis and promote democracy and good governance.
Biden also announced support for the AU to join the Group of 20 (G20) wealthy nations and for Africa to have a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. South Africa is currently the only G20 member from Africa.
The hope of a continent rested on the Atlas Lions of Morocco after the team made it into the semifinals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar as they defeated Portugal 1-0 in the quarterfinal clash on Dec. 10.
The North African nation made history for Africa by placing fourth at the global tournament when Croatia beat them 2-0. African and Arab football fans celebrated the historic run.
But it wasn’t only Morocco who was hailed at the tournament. Rwanda’s Salima Radia Mukansanga also made history, becoming the first female referee and the first African female to officiate a World Cup fixture.