Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

This is our seventh edition of the annual “Top 10 Global Risks,” which is based on our forecasting experience at the U.S. intelligence community’s National Intelligence Council. In our previous forecasts, we have focused on small wars, food insecurity, developing-country debt, and growing climate change impacts—an ongoing polycrisis that is emblematic of our times. Amidst this disorder and strife, even more signs of distress will surface in 2024. We have medium-to-high confidence in all the probabilities we have assigned to each of the risks below, given the credible to high-quality level of information used. Africa is at risk of a second lost decade with an intractable debt crisis, decreasing capital flows, growing climate change impacts, major drought, conflict, and political instability. According to the United Nations, by 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will be African, and without economic growth and greater job opportunities, the risk of Africa’s demographic bounty becoming a liability for the region as well as the world will continue to grow. Debt ballooned with the pandemic’s increased health costs, with 21 African states are facing debt stress or the risk of it. The continent’s public debt has nearly tripled since 2010 to $656 billion, with annual servicing of the debt amounting to about 23 percent of Africa’s GDP. For Africa to achieve a new development trajectory, OECD nations would need to qualitatively ramp up G-20 efforts in the Common Framework—working with China—to relieve debt stress. Former U.S. President Donald Trump has a good prospect of winning the 2024 U.S. presidential election. His main theme would be revenge, and his reelection would most likely wreak havoc on U.S. democracy and further destabilize the world system. Domestically, Trump’s authoritarian ambitions have become even more ambitious, and internationally, Trump aims to pursue his “anti-globalist” agenda, which would have global consequences. 2023 saw a disappointing Ukraine counteroffensive turn into a war of attrition, with few gains or losses. The ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led to the destruction of housing and infrastructure in Gaza, leaving most Palestinians homeless and creating a hotbed for recruitment under Hamas.

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