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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...

IDA logo for Africa Program


Volume 18
  • Volume 18, February 8, 2018
    - Cameroon's Anglophone Crisis Worsens and Widens
    - Expectations are Low for the Second Round of South Sudan Peace Talks
  • Volume 18, February 1, 2018
    - Water Crisis in Cape Town: Natural Disaster or Man-Made?
    - January was a Rocky Month for Egypt-Sudan Relations
  • Volume 18, January 18, 2018
    - Constitutional Reform in Gabon: Advancing or Repressing Democracy?
    - Large-Scale Protests Persist in Togo
Volume 17
  • Volume 17, January 11, 2018
    - Angola—Real Change or More of the Same?
    - New Round of Deadly Protests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Volume 17, November 30, 2017
    - Zimbabwe in Transition: Move Along, Nothing to See Here
    - Liberia's 2017 Elections: Fraud, Democracy, and Remnants of the Past
  • Volume 17, November 9, 2017
    - The Indigenous People of Biafra: Another Stab at Biafran Independence
    - Eritrea—Will Declining Remittances Lead to Domestic Unrest?
  • Volume 17, October 5, 2017
    - International Election Observation and Kenya's 2017 Election: Indicative of Structural Problems with the Model?
    - Uganda Debates Life Tenure for President Museveni
Volume 16
  • Volume 16, August 17, 2017
    - Piracy in Africa—Differences Between East and West
    - Risks of Election Violence in Africa: 2017-2018
  • Volume 16, July 27, 2017
    - Cameroon's Aging President Expected to Run Again
    - Tanzania Continues Slide Toward Authoritarianism
  • Volume 16, July 12, 2017
    - Zimbabwe—Political and Economic Disarray
    - South Sudan: 6th Anniversary of Independence Marked by Violence
Volume 15
  • Volume 15, June 22, 2017
    - Continued African Migration: What Will Europe Do?
    - Kenya: Maize Flour Shortage Becomes Campaign Fodder
  • Volume 15, June 15, 2017
    - Transformation of Algeria's Oil-Based Economy is Unlikely
    - Angola: Implications of Dos Santos's Decision to Step Down
  • Volume 15, June 8, 2017
    - What will Oil and Gas Mean for Senegal?
    - Kasai Conflict Highlights New Challenges for Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Volume 15, June 1, 2017
    - The Roots of Conflict Over Land in Kenya
    - Rwanda Elections Will Likely Reinforce the Status Quo
  • Volume 15, May 25, 2017
    - African Universities: Essential for a Higher Education and Indigenous Research Capacity
    - Indefinite Cease-fire Announced in Mozambique
  • Volume 15, May 18, 2017
    - Prospects for Violence in Kenya's 2017 Elections
    - Combatting the Small Arms Trade in Africa
  • Volume 15, May 11, 2017
    - In Burkina Faso, An Extremist Fulani Struggle Sprouts
    - Tunisia's Tourist Industry: Bouncing Back?
  • Volume 15, April 27, 2017
    - Algeria's Ailing President Turns 80: Is There a Plan for Succession?
    - Kenya Elections 2017: Campaigns Enter the Final Stretch
  • Volume 15, April 6, 2017
    - Uganda's Refugee Policy: A Success Story Under Strain?
    - Lesotho Headed for Early Elections–Again


Explore the Africa Watch Newsletters Archives

Volume 4, June 26, 2014

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