Even as a slew of African countries prepare for elections, the new year begins with hope for perennially chaotic nations like Burkina Faso and the Central African Republic, which will finally have democratically elected leaders.
Uganda and Zambia will hold general elections on February 18 and August 11, respectively.
While Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni would be attempting to extend his lengthy rule, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu would be going all out to win the polls in order to serve his first full term.
He became president in January last year to complete the term of Michael Sata who died in office.
Mr Lungu and his Patriotic Front are expected to face a tough challenge from the United Party for National Development, led by Mr Hakainde Hichilema, 53, whom he narrowly defeated in presidential by-election.
Should Mr Museveni be re-elected, he will join a growing list of African leaders who remain in power for indeterminate periods.
Among them is Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, who last week announced his intention to run for the presidency next year, following a referendum that gave him the green light to do so.
Also expected to hold presidential elections in 2016 the Congo Republic, whose veteran President Denis Sassou Nguesso also seems set to hold onto power for as long as he can.
Not surprisingly, he recently enacted a new constitution after an October 25 referendum allowing him to extend his long rule.
Coincidentally, Niger and the Comoros will hold their elections on February 21.
Comoros will be holding presidential polls while Nigerians will go to the polls to elect parliamentarians and a president.
A runoff for the presidential poll is scheduled for March 20.
The citizens of Benin go to the polls on February 28 to elect a person who will replace President Thomas Boni Yayi.
Should no emerge an outright winner in the first round, a runoff would be on March 13.
In April, Chad are Djibouti will hold presidential elections.
Other countries holding presidential elections this year are Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea and the Gambia.
Ghana will also be holding a general election that will test President John Dramani Mahama’s popularity, given that, like Zambia’s Lungu, he came into power after the death of John Atta Mills.
The poll will be held on November 7.
Interestingly, among his opponents would be Ms Samia Nkrumah, the daughter of founding father Kwame Nkrumah.
Presidential elections are scheduled for Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe, while a general election will be held in Morocco.
Elections aside, 2016 will be a year of momentous evolution for Africa, particularly with regard to economic and human rights matters.
Among major events is the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from January 21 to 31.
The summit, whose theme will be “2016: African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”, will culminate in the ordinary session of the assembly of heads of state and government, which will see the election of a new Chairman to replace Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.