It's always amazing to think back and realize how fast the years go by. 2015 will also be done in the next one month. What a year it has been and what is in store for us in 2016? In the same vein they say a week is a long time in politics.
So five years should be like an eon. But here we are again closing 2015 in a flurry of presidential and parliamentary campaigns for Uganda's top citizenship prize. The field is full and the number of candidates (eight) is one of the highest in a long time. Already the heat is up a notch and again we must wonder what 2016 portends.
On the political front, 2015 has been 'the year of the terrorists'. From Syria, Egypt and Iraq, Nigeria and Cameroon in West Africa, to Yemen and Afghanistan, and onto Paris and California, terrorists have managed to sow so much paranoia and create so much social tension amongst different communities. ISIL or Daesh is a global brand for all wrong reasons. Terror attacks seem to be gaining more and more currency and it takes only one to forget the good job the security forces all over the world do to keep us safe. That is why places like Somalia and Libya are now forgotten because terror induced violence has become a way of life. Now Burundi is firmly on that list. It is time to rethink the underlying cause of terrorism and fight with more effective tools rather than bombs from the sky.
While terrorism has caused unease, it has also spawned a counter movement of radicalism led by the far right political wings world over. That is why we cannot afford to take our eye off the big picture - the need to create a kinder and more equitable world. In the words of one Pope Francis, a little more empathy, kindness and social justice will go a long way in creating a better world.
Still on the political front, Tanzania successfully completed a transfer of power that brought into office one a John apomorphine Magufuli, who based on all reports coming in, may just prove to be the antidote to the African strong man who rides rough over his people and their resources. His last two months have been so exciting in that by him just being reasonable, he has started to slowly lift the yoke of elitism and exploitation of the African people. Definitely he is a man to watch in 2016. But in The Gambia, one Yaya Jammeh was busy declaring his capacity to cure AIDS and declaring his country an Islamic State as a means of countering colonialism. Strange how these Africans think.
Many African economies also suffered from the strengthening US currency and many experienced depreciation in their currencies of over 30%. Falling commodity prices and a weakening Euro drove up the price of the US unit. Add new fracking technology in the oil industry and oversupply and the loss of revenues for many newly industrialists oil producers like Ghana wreaked havoc. As we move into 2016, the question on all economic pundits' lips is 'will the Fed raise interest rates? If interest rates go up, then we are likely to see more wealth investors moving into dollars and taking flight from Africa. Even though The Chinese Yuan or Renminbi was admitted into the world basket of convertible currencies, the slowdown in the Chinese economy may portend more headaches for African and other developing economies. It has indeed been a heady year.
But if 2015 is anything to go by, then 2016 could be tougher. Back home the presidential elections between three erstwhile revolutionaries will eventually happen. All things being constant, there is a strong possibility of a run off. But African elections being what they usually are, the result may end up being resulted elsewhere. Ugandans fervent hope is that the country does not degenerate into violence. Burundi offers insights of what has to be avoided. We suppose there is more to life than elections and Ugandans have more in common than their differences seem to indicate. We can only hope for a peaceful resolution. Down south, Rwanda and Kagame will have their third term. Nations take years to form and we suppose these are birthing pains.
Climate change has also been on the lips of everyone and the El Niño rains have shown what increased greenhouse emissions can do to our planet. A rise in temperatures of over 2 degrees centigrade will mean that countries like Vanuatu and the Seychelles may be completely submerged. Already the Arctic ice is receding at an unprecedented rate and rising sea levels portend serious food security and resource shortages. The Paris agreement (COP21) is already being labelled a fraud as the parties thereto may not do much to live up to the promises they have made. The American election will have a strong impact on the direction of actions on climate change.
We at Summit can only wish you a happy festive season and advise you to batten down for a racy and headwind filled 2016. As you celebrate, spare a moment for the World's refugees; especially from Burundi, Syria and Afghanistan. They probably won't be seeing Santa Claus and that is really a sad state of affairs for mankind. It has been a year of very many small steps backwards. We hope the World can only do better in 2016.