The coups are back in Africa. They were a regular occurrence in the decades after most countries gained independence, and then the trend became quiet. However, since 2020, West and Central Africa have witnessed nine attempted coups, four of which were successful.

The most recent episode is happening in Niger, where presidential guards have detained President Mohamed Bazoum inside his palace. On July 26, soldiers appeared on state television and announced that they had taken control of the country after detaining President Mohamed Bazoum. Negotiations were reported to be ongoing on Thursday morning, according to the nation’s foreign minister in an interview with France24 television. However, later in the day, the army chief announced his support for the coup, as reported by Agence France Presse.

According to research conducted by Erik Meyersson, a professor at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE), coups often harm a country’s economy. Meyersson’s research shows that coups can reverse important economic reforms, increase a country’s debt, and lead to economic crises. Furthermore, in more democratic countries, a successful coup can decrease annual growth in income per capita by as much as one per cent to 1.3 per cent over ten years.

All the African countries that have experienced military takeovers in recent years are resource-rich. But do coups always affect their mining operations? And if they don’t impede mining operations, do they improve the economy? Let’s look at how countries that underwent coups in the last three years are faring.

Burkina Faso

In January 2022, the army of Burkina Faso removed President Roch Kabore from power, accusing him of being unable to control the violence caused by Islamist militants. Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba, who led the coup, promised to improve security, but unfortunately, the attacks continued and the morale of the armed forces decreased. This led to another coup eight months later, in September when Captain Ibrahim Traore took over as the new junta leader after a mutiny.

Burkina Faso’s economy was already struggling before the 2022 coup, despite being Africa’s fourth-largest cotton producer. Over 40 per cent of its population was below the poverty line. At the end of 2021, the country posted a 6.9 per cent growth in GDP, signifying a comeback from COVID. Then the coup happened, after which economic growth slowed to 2.5% in 2022, and Burkina Faso recorded the highest inflation rate in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

Mali

The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, was removed from power by the Malian military on August 18 2020 with the help of Colonel Assimi Goita. This was not the first coup in Mali’s political history, as the country has struggled with instability for some time. However, this event was celebrated by many Malians who have been protesting against the insecurity, poverty, and unemployment attributed to the corruption and inefficiency of Keïta’s administration.

Before the coup, Mali was already one of the poorest countries in the world, with 47.2% of its population living in extreme poverty between 2011-2015. However, four years of higher agricultural productivity and improved imports brought inflation down to negative digits in 2019.

Because of the coup, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed economic sanctions on Mali. And because Mali imports 70 of its food, inflation climbed to double digits in 2022.

Chad

In April 2021, Chad’s army took control after President Idriss Deby was killed while visiting troops in the north. According to Chad’s law, the speaker of parliament should have become president. However, a military council dissolved parliament to ensure stability. General Mahamat Idriss Deby, Deby’s son, was appointed interim president and given the task of overseeing an 18-month transition to elections. The unconstitutional transfer of power resulted in riots in N’Djamena, which were suppressed by the military.

Before the coup, Chad’s inflation rate was on a downtrend, reaching negative figures as the economy fought to recover from COVID. However, since the coup happened, Chad’s inflation rate has spiked month-on-month to reach its current 12.5%. It’s also notable that 42% of Chad’s population is poor, so high inflation rates make them vulnerable.

Guinea

In September 2021, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, the special forces commander, overthrew President Alpha Conde in Guinea. A year earlier, Conde had changed the constitution to circumvent term limits, which led to widespread rioting. Doumbouya became interim president and pledged a transition to democratic elections within three years.

However, ECOWAS rejected the timeline and imposed sanctions on junta members and their relatives by freezing their bank accounts. The military regime has proposed starting the 24-month transition in January 2023, but opposition parties argue that the regime has not established institutions or a roadmap to restore constitutional governance.

Before the coup, Guinea had built a reputation for supplying 20% of the global bauxite market (bauxite is the main ore source of aluminium). But in the immediate aftermath of the coup, land and air borders closed. This singular move put Guinea’s bauxite exports, which were on pace to rise to a record, in jeopardy. Since then, Guinean exports have been tough.

Bauxite is not the only export getting restricted. Recently, Guinea’s ruling junta suspended the export of several agricultural products, including rice, potatoes, and palm oil, for six months to preserve its stocks. This signals that the country’s food has been in short supply since the coup.

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