Africa in the Wider World: African Security: Time for a Change in Doctrine?

Africa’s robust economic growth will be a cause for celebration at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ summit in August. Only East and South Asia have grown faster than sub-Saharan Africa since 2002. Surging commodity prices, new resource discoveries, long-overdue improvements in infrastructure, a telecoms boom, and the emergence of new, consumption-minded middle classes have sparked unprecedented investor interest in the continent. During a visit to Africa last May, Secretary of State John Kerry hailed this progress and promised the United States would be a “catalyst in this continued transformation.”

Yet there is darker side to Africa’s economic modernization, and one of its most worrisome features is an escalation of political violence. While big wars causing huge civilian losses are rarer in Africa today than before, smaller conflicts involving rebels, insurgents, and jihadists have proliferated in recent years. Alongside Africa’s older, seemingly intractable conflicts in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan/South Sudan, newer armed movements are generating insecurity even in Africa’s most democratic and prosperous states.

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Richard Downie