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Populism spilling into Africa from the US and Europe may influence policy

With popular frustrations culminating in the election Donald Trump and Brexit‚ African leaders are likely to adopt more populist policies to address economic challenges.

That’s according to risk analysis consultancy Control Risks‚ which on Tuesday launched its 2017 RiskMap‚ portraying expected security and political risks throughout the world and their potential effects on business.

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Among the key global trends identified by its analysts is the rise of populism‚ which has seen President Donald Trump inaugurated in the US and Britain begin negotiations to exit the European Union.

Populism is on the rise in Africa too‚ which is not surprising as leaders seek to address economic challenges‚ according to Control Risks’ Chris Torrens.

“There is clearly a direct link between the macroeconomic challenges the voters face and the way they vote at the ballot‚” he said.

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“We’ve seen this in a number of countries over the last couple of years and we anticipate seeing it potentially in Kenya‚ which has a key election coming up there in August.

“We expect to some leaders in sub-Saharan Africa to adopt more populist policies‚” he said.

While some will aim to placate popular frustrations‚ leaders must be prepared to juggle the consequences of the US’s reformed foreign policy under Trump.

Torrens said investors in Africa‚ as a result‚ are faced with uncertainty.

“There are three main channels of transmission‚ as it were‚ of US influence into sub-Saharan Africa and they revolve around trade‚ aid and security‚” he said.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa)‚ extended by Obama to 2025‚ is expected to come under close scrutiny under the Trump administration and aid to Africa is likely to decline‚ Torrens said.

Though Trump is particularly concerned with security there is no guarantee that the US will continue to intervene in countries like Nigeria and Ethiopia‚ where terrorism is rife‚ he said.

“[Security] is probably the area where we can expect to see the most consistent continuation of support from the US government. However‚ if you look at the overall tone and demeanour of the US government‚ there is a general pull back from global conflict.”

In its Southern African outlook‚ Control Risks found succession politics emerge as a trend in the risk profiles of countries in the region.

Angola‚ Zimbabwe‚ and South Africa are all due to see new leaders or prospective new leaders elected in the coming year.

Analyst Seamus Duggan said now was the right time for investors to think about investing in Zimbabwe‚ with the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the clear frontrunner to succeed Mugabe.

“They have a highly educated population. They have good infrastructure. They have obvious opportunities in energy‚ mining‚ tourism and telecoms.”

Despite the country’s political volatility‚ under Mnangagwa Zimbabwe is likely to adopt more business-friendly policies‚ he said. — TMG Digital