Africa in 2018: What to expect

Demonstrators call for the resignation of Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe. Will they see genuine democracy in 2018?

Story highlights

  • Megaprojects, elections, and business trends in Africa this year
  • No end in sight for long-running conflicts
  • Will Turkey emerge as a rival to China in Africa?

(CNN)History was being made across the continent in 2017. From the end of an era to the realization of grand ambitions, from thrilling discoveries, to tragedies that shocked the world.

Much of what mattered came out of the blue. But other stories, such as Kenya's troubled election and the decline of iconic wild animals, were easier to anticipate.
    The coming year will reveal its own surprises, but some of the potential highlights, lowlights, and events worth keeping an eye on are listed below.

      Infrastructure projects

      The Abuja Light Rail network is '98% complete.'
      Nigeria's transport network is due for a boost with the launch of the Abuja Light Rail network, which President Muhammadu Buhari has declared "98% complete," covering 12 stations over a 28-mile route.
      The president has also given assurances that the $1.5 billion Lagos to Ibadan segment of the Standard Gauge Railway will be finished in 2018, with a capacity of two million passengers per year.
        The first phase of the expansion of Ethiopia's Ababa Bole International Airport is expected to be complete this year, part of a $350 million development intended to cement the nation's position as an aviation hub for East Africa.
        Uganda will open its largest power plant, one of the continent's largest hydropower facilities, in Karuma. Tunisia is pursuing what could become the world's largest solar power plant.
        Egypt aims to accelerate work on a new capital city outside of Cairo, although there are doubts over whether the $45 billion megaproject can be delivered as planned.

        Elections

        Will Emmerson Mnangagwa support a shift to democracy?
        The long reign of Robert Mugabe is finally over and Zimbabwe is to vote for a new president in 2018. Mugabe's successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has signaled his intention to usher in a more democratic era, although analysts have questioned whether opposition parties will be allowed to operate freely.
        Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi could have a smooth path to reelection as his challengers are mired in difficulties. Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq has suggested he is reconsidering his candidacy, after being deported from the UAE shortly after announcing his intention to run. Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali may be forced to withdraw as he faces a prison sentence over an alleged obscene gesture.
        President of Cameroon Paul Biya is now one of Africa's longest serving leaders after 35 years in power, but the 84-year-old has not revealed whether he intends to stand for another seven-year term. He may face legendary soccer player Samuel Eto'o if he does.
        Sierra Leone will certainly have a new president as incumbent Ernest Bai Koroma is no longer eligible after two terms in power. Koroma's party has chosen current Foreign Minister Dr. Samura Camara as its candidate, who will run against former military leader Julius Maada Bio.
        War-torn Mali is also scheduled to go to the polls, although regional elections have been postponed due to security concerns.

        Business

        Local taxi app services such as Africab will compete with Uber.
        The battle of the taxi apps will be fiercely contested. Global giant Uber has signalled its intentions with a new