Let me start with a prediction: There is a strong likelihood for more conflicts in Africa this year in comparison to last year.
Why do I say that? The signs are increasing all around us especially in these times of financial crisis and the political upheavals that are likely to accompany it.
With 'Smart Power' as the thrust of the Obama administration's foreign policy, it looks like Africa will get the hard end of the stick rather than the soft one.
In last month's issue of Monocle, there was a report by Adam Wolfe from the AGM of the International Peace Operations Association (what a cute name to give the trade body for Private Military Contractors aka Mercenaries). The summary of his piece is the push into Africa as the next growth area by mercenaries who will be laid off in the Iraq theatre. These PMCs are willing to take on the peacekeeping and training work that western militaries have previously undertaken in areas such as the Chad/Darfur border region.
If this article from NEXT is anything to go by, then the PMCs are already making their presence felt , in the Niger Delta at least.
Will it now be a case of Nigeria today, Southern Sudan tommorow and Eastern Congo the day after?
Do not be suprised if it is.