IDA’s Africa team focuses on trends and developments that could result in discontinuous political, social, or economic change in sub-Saharan Africa. Discontinuous change threatens traditional authorities and power structures by dramatically altering the way things have been for years. By causing sudden breaks with the past, discontinuous change can foster both societal progress and potentially violent instability.
The Africa team consists of experienced researchers, most at the Ph.D. level, who have lived and worked on the African continent. They have experience in East, West, Central, and Southern Africa. Their familiarity with the underlying structural conditions of African societies helps them foresee the potential effects of the catalytic factors that cause change.
The team’s objectives are to anticipate change and to describe for policy makers and operators its likely effects on both the African scene and on the security interests of the United States. They carry out their research through personal contact with African leaders and researchers, access to social, electronic, and print media, and continuous scanning of scholarly research. They partner with IDA experts in other fields including, for instance, defense planning, information technology, modeling, simulation, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to address questions of national interest, such as measurement of the effectiveness of engagement programs and efficient allocation of human and material resources to projects related to Africa.
IDA Researcher Published in Latest Contingency Planning Memorandum
George F. Ward, former ambassador to Namibia, discussed the possibility of political instability and violence in Zimbabwe associated with the end of President Robert Mugabe’s tenure; his article was recently published in the Center for Preventive Action's Contingency Planning Memorandum, “Political Instability in Zimbabwe” released by the Council on Foreign Relations. In the memo, Amb. Ward examines the possible risk factors in Zimbabwe, including the sudden death of the 91-year-old president without an apparent successor, growing factionalism within the main political party, and increased economic strife triggering more demands for political change. More...