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IDA's Africa Program

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.

Pic 1-Research discussing issues. Pic 2-Researchers with local Chiefs

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.

The African Team 2015

IDA Researcher Published in Latest Contingency Planning Memorandum

AMB Ward and CFR publicationGeorge 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...

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Volume 14, March 16, 2017

  • Brundi: A Deepening Political Impasse
  • In South Sudan A Man-Made Crisis Repeats Itself

Volume 14, March 9, 2017

  • The Liptako–Gourma Authority's Joint Task Force: The Solution to Rising Insecurity in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso?
  • The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali Enters Its Fifth Year

Volume 14, February 23, 2017

  • The EU's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: Combining the Refugee and Development Agendas
  • Botswana—Challenges to a Success Story

Volume 14, February 16, 2017

  • Cameroon: Anglophone Protests Highlight Historical Grievances
  • ECOWAS Acts Decisively in Favor of Democracy in The Gambia

Volume 14, February 2, 2017

  • Economic Growth—A Tale of Two Africas
  • Somalia's Presential Election: Delays and Insecurity Create Challenges

Volume 14, January 5, 2017

  • Renewable Energy—Africa's Next "Mobile" Revolution?
  • Kenya: Political Tensions Increase Ahead of 2017 Election

Volume 13, December 22, 2016

  • Libya: The Weak Link in Migration Control
  • Zimbabwe: Mugabe, 92, Selected to Run Again in 2018 Election
  • Constitutional Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Volume 13, December 15, 2016

  • Presidential Succession in Angola—A Pause in the Plan?
  • Is Mokhtar Belmokhtar Really Dead?
  • China in Africa: Economic Myths and Soft Power

Volume 13, December 8, 2016

  • A Forgotten Emergency: The Humanitarian Crisis in the Lake Chad Basis
  • Unexpected Electorial Turnover in The Gambia

Volume 13, December 1, 2016

  • Zimbabwe—Warning Lights Flashing
  • Migrant Flows and Migrant Smuggling–Niger's Next Internal Threat?
  • Ghana Elections: Electoral Commission Hopes for Better

Volume 13, November 17, 2016

  • Zuma Survives Latest No-Confidence Vote – What's Next?
  • Soldiers Without Borders: The French Military in the Sahel
  • Lesotho's Governing Coalition Collapses

Volume 13, November 9, 2016

  • AMISOM and Peace Support Operations: Lessions 
  • Nigeria's Two-Pronged Approach to Economic Recovery
  • Boy Soldiers, Girl Victims: Gender Misconceptions and Women in War

Volume 13, October 20, 2016

  • Corruption and Violence in Africa: What Does the Literature Say?
  • Turkey and Africa After the Failed Coup
  • Mali—The Deadliest of All Current United Nationals Peacekeeping Missions

Volume 13, October 13, 2016

  • Who Joins Boko Haram and Why?
  • German's Migrant Crisis Has Roots in Africa as Well as the Middle East
  • Has the International Criminal Court Failed Africa?

Volume 12, September 29, 2016

  • Democracy Delayed in Somalia
  • Can the Democratic Republic of the Congo Overcome Its Election Crisis Through Dialogue?
  • Can Natural Gas Rescue Mozambique's Economy?

Volume 12, September 22, 2016

  • Is ISIS Making Inroads in East Africa?
  • Drug Trafficking in Africa: From Transit Zone to Consumer Market?
  • The Obstacles to Consolidating Democracy in Gabon are Shared Throughout Region

Volume 12, September 8, 2016

  • Status of Boko Haram
  • Can the Upcoming CITES Conference Stop Elephant Poaching?

Volume 12, September 1, 2016

  • Somali Refugees in Dadaab: There to Stay
  • East African Oil and Gas—The Future is Not Now
  • Securing the Virtual Savannah: Global Implications of African Cybercrime

Volume 12, August 25, 2016

  • IDA Support to the Threat Reduction in Africa (TRIA) Initiative
  • Intervention in South Sudan: Challenges Ahead
  • Ethiopian Intifada? Anti-Government Protests Shake the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front

Volume 12, August 18, 2016

  • In the Fight Against Boko Haram, What's the Role of the Multi-National Joint Task Force?
  • Shifting Allegiances in Zimbabwe's Powerful Security Sector?
  • Tanzania: Growing Concern Over Governance Reform

Volume 12, August 11, 2016

  • Democratic Republic of Congo: Delayed Elections Spark Political Unrest
  • Efforts at Pan-African Integration: New Variations on an Old Theme

Volume 12, August 4, 2016

  • Municipal Elections shake Up South African Politics
  • Strangers in a Familiar Land: A Referendum or Ivoirite?

Volume 12, July 28, 2016

  • Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa: Perils and Potential
  • Zimbabwe—Dificulties Multiply
  • Internal Divisions Aggravate Conflict in South Sudan
  • Miscalculating Security: Obstacles to Reliable Data in Sub-Saharan Africa and Their Implications for Stability

Volume 12, July 21, 2016

  • Liberia: A Model for Security Section Reform?
  • PM Netanyahu's African Pilgrimage: Leveraging the Present to Overcome the Past
  • Elections in Zambia: Credibility at Stake
  • Unstable Foundations—Constitutional Insecurity and the Crisis in South Sudan

Explore the Africa Watch Newsletters Archives

Volume 4, June 26, 2014

  • Africa Online—For Good and Ill
  • Zimbabwe: New Infighting in Mugabe Succession Battle