Gideon Rachman, the FT's chief foreign affairs commentator, explains how a changing of the guard in South African politics could set the tone for progress across the continent and stability across the world
Written and presented by Gideon Rachman; filmed and edited by James Sandy
For South Africa, it's very important, because this offers an opportunity, if you like, for a fresh start. The Zuma years have been years of decline, of growing corruption, and of growing anxiety about the structures of the South African state and the economy. This offers a chance for a new president to come in and to start to turn things around.
For Africa as a continent, what happens in South Africa matters a great deal, partly because South Africa has become an informal spokesman for the continent as the only African member of the G20. And it also is one of the most sophisticated economies in Africa. It's a hub for the whole of southern Africa. It has the highest per capita GDP, a sophisticated financial sector. So what happens to South Africa will reverberate around the continent.
And what happens in Africa will matter to the whole world increasingly over the next 20, 30 years. And particularly so, because the continent is undergoing a population boom. By 2050, it's thought that the population of Africa will more or less double to about 2.4 billion people.
Those people have to be provided with jobs, opportunities if they are to stay happily within their own societies. And that's going to be very difficult. So it's really particularly significant what happens in South Africa, which has been regarded as one of the most developed and successful countries on the African continent.