Risk mitigation company AKE has forecast violence and unrest in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including several areas where there is a strong extractive industry presence. On the back of falling platinum prices and policy uncertainty leading up to the ANC's conference in December 2012, the latest union clashes in South Africa came as no surprise. High unemployment, slow progress on land reform and lack of basic services will also continue to spark regular protests, particularly among township populations and other disaffected groups.
The government of the Republic of Congo is likely to attempt to amend the constitution to extend the rule of President Sassou-Nguesso beyond the next presidential election in 2016, heightening the risk of civil unrest or even a return to rebel hostilities. Protests over labour issues and living standards may become more frequent in Gabon as falling oil production brings slower economic growth. The recent success of the oil workers' union in extracting concessions from the government may be particularly emboldening for worker organisations. Further unrest affecting mining companies should be expected in Guinea given the dire state of relations between the sector and local communities.
The wider region, including countries such as Senegal and Burkina Faso, could also be vulnerable to rising food prices, particularly if key producing countries such as the US and Russia decide to impose domestic controls on grain or soy exports. This could negatively affect the food supply to international markets and potentially re-create the same conditions that sparked the violent food riots of 2008.