1. South Africa
South Africa is the only African country that is a member of the G20 and BRICS (the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa grouping), and the only African country of the EU’s 10 global strategic partners. This is mainly because South Africa is the EU’s largest trading partner in Africa but it certainly gives the country a global clout that Nigeria currently lacks. Nelson Mandela’s profile and the international activism of his successor, Thabo Mbeki, saw the former apartheid pariah state significantly increase its leverage in Africa and globally after 1994, and it simultaneously benefited from several years of healthy economic growth.
However, despite the towering image of Mandela and the miracle of the transition to democracy, the so-called Rainbow Nation has become tarnished in recent years. The country’s economic growth rates have declined and in 2014 the Nigerian economy was formally recognised as being larger than that of South Africa. The ruling African National Congress struggles with internal ethical challenges and leadership gaps while growth levels and investor confidence have declined because of the uncertain regulatory framework. Africa and the Middle East are likely to retain their position as the two regions with the highest conflict burden globally for the foreseeable future Set out in its National Development Plan, South Africa is caught in a middle-income trap.