Sub-Saharan Africa’s election schedule remains heavy in 2012

Twenty-twelve will see numerous sub-Saharan African countries go to the voting booth, with elections in Senegal, Ghana and Angola likely to be closely followed by the international investor community.

Will Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos remain in power?

Will Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos remain in power?

“There is no shortage of election risks across Africa in 2012…” says Standard Bank in a recent report.

Standard Bank notes that the continent’s investment climate was strongly influenced by political developments in 2011. “There was the usual risk going into elections generated by policy uncertainty. Yet from early 2011, political risk was additionally augmented by the clamouring for democratic change across the Arab world. The risk of a popular uprising to overthrow less democratic leaders added to the risk around elections. Political risk perceptions across the continent were also increased by the slide into civil war in Côte d’Ivoire due to the incumbent’s unwillingness to relinquish power.”

Standard Bank offered the following commentary on the elections in Angola, Senegal and Ghana:


Legislative elections are scheduled to take place in September, with the head of the party with the most seats in parliament automatically becoming president, as per the amended electoral law. While speculation about who will succeed Dos Santos as head of the MPLA is rife, it is likely that he will bid for re-election. He may choose to appoint his successor as vice president. This post will also be bestowed with the responsibilities of the prime minister, as the position will no longer exist after the elections.

The main opposition party, UNITA, re-elected Isaias Samakuva for the third time as the leader of the party in December 2011. This despite internal wrangling last year and calls from senior party members earlier in the year for him to step down. A group of five opposition parties (who currently do not hold seats in parliament) are preparing to unite forces in the 2012 elections.


With the 26 February presidential election only a few weeks away, we expect the political climate to increasingly heat up. President Abdoulaye Wade has confirmed he will run for a third term, claiming that this will only be his second mandate (if he wins) under the 2007 constitutional amendment. Still, the opposition says the move is illegal.

Wade is unlikely to win outright in the first round, given his relative decline in popularity, but the same applies to the divided opposition. The key question is whether the incumbent president’s challenger in the run-off will be able to unify the fragmented opposition. The Bennoo Siggil Senegaal coalition failed to agree on a single candidate in early December 2011: both Ousmane Tanor Dieng (PS) and Moustapha Niasse (AFP) will compete in the contest. Two of Wade’s former prime ministers – Idrissa Seck (Rewmi) and Macky Sall (APR) – will also stand.


The December 2013 election is likely to be another closely fought contest between the incumbent NDC and the previous governing NPP. Yet, based on the example of 2008, we are not too concerned by socio-political risks. Moreover, from a policy perspective, we see limited differences between the likely direction of the two parties.

Our key political risk concern remains the chance of economic overheating and currency stress, which also has strong historical precedence ahead of elections. That said, at present we are reasonably comfortable that we are not going to see the excesses of the run-up to 2008 elections. Indeed, the repayment of the arrears accumulated during this period has been a key part of deficit financing needs of the government in 2011. At present, we are with the IMF in giving the government the benefit of the doubt on its fiscal plans.

Kenya’s parliamentary and presidential elections were originally set for August 2012, but due to a recent High Court ruling, the poll could possibly now only take place in 2013. Zimbabwe might also have an election in 2012.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s election schedule for 2012
CountryElection typeDate
SenegalPresidential26 February
The Gambia Legislative24 March
MadagascarPresidential (Tentative)March
MaliPresidential (1st round)29 April
MaliPresidential (2nd round)13 May
Burkina FasoParliamentaryMay
Sierra LeoneLegislativeAugust
Sierra LeonePresidential17 November
Equatorial GuineaParliamentary2012
Congo (Brazzaville)Legislative2012