2018 in Africa: A Year of Sweeping Reforms, and Entrenched Power

Take a look back at the year in Africa, with reporting for the Voice of America’s Africa Division.

In parts of Africa, 2018 brought historic shifts in power and rekindled alliances between old foes. But other regions saw false starts, further entrenchment in conflict and leaders unwilling to relinquish control.

Here are some highlights from an eventful year across the continent from “Plugged in With Greta Van Susteren.” Scroll for details country-by-country and a report from Voice of America’s Mil Arcega.


Grassroots reforms bring sweeping change.

In Ethiopia, a youth-led grassroots movement forced the prime minister to resign and brought rise to a new, young leader: Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, from the Oromo ethnic group. Abiy has instituted sweeping reforms, including releasing political prisoners.

Perhaps most importantly, he helped end the two-decade long border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. With multiple peace deals signed across the region, this has certainly been a year for hope in the Horn of Africa.


The country holds the first elections of the post-Mugagbe era.

A different transition is occuring in Zimbabwe, where longstanding dictator Robert Mugabe was ousted at the end of 2017, leading to a year of firsts for the country. Zimbabwe held its first elections in the post-Mugabe era in July.

South Africa

New leadership promises reforms.

Another major shakeup occured in South Africa, where former businessman Cyril Ramaphosa took the helm promising economic reforms and good governance, following the scandal-plagued years of Jacob Zuma.


Museveni clings to power.

Unfortunately, in other parts of the continent, longstanding trends have continued, with older leaders clinging to power. Perhaps most notable is Uganda, where 74-year-old Yoweri Museveni pushed through a constitutional amendment to abolish the age restriction on presidents, allowing him to serve beyond his 75th birthday.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

A doctor is honored, and Ebola rages on.

One exciting development this year was the honor given to Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Known as “Dr. Miracle,” Mukwege received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work performing surgery on Congolese women who have been victims of gender-based violence.

The Congo has also been the site of an ongoing Ebola outbreak. Despite promising advances from the use of a breakthrough vaccine, Ebola has proved difficult to eradicate. In regions plagued by violence and underserved by health care professionals, Ebola has claimed hundreds of lives.

And here are more of the top stories from the continent: