Deprived of traditional methods of funding from donor countries and the diaspora, terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab are turning to the illegal wildlife and forestry trade to sustain their activities.
Rwanda's programme of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration is distinctive for the minimal involvement of the UN. The programme's success raises important questions about local ownership in peacebuilding efforts.
Power-sharing government in Zimbabwe will be a difficult balancing act. Competition between the MDC and ZANU-PF as well as intra-party struggles could lead to instability or to dangerous compromises, but for the moment the GNU is Zimbabwe’s one sign of hope.
The year 2009 will start the way 2008 ended; with the Zimbabwe question unresolved. Foreign military intervention is unlikely to take place, and in the present situation a neighbouring country will find it difficult to justify invading Zimbabwe. If the MDC wish to give force to their ultimatum, they should not allow themselves to be steamrollered into joining a Government of National Unity.
Congo is the third largest country in Africa and possesses vast mineral wealth, but its immense economic potential has never been realised. If Africa is gradually shaking off its image as ‘the hopeless continent’, today the Congo would still epitomise the ‘hopeless country’.