Understanding Conflict in Africa

Submitted by BIC on Wed, 01/15/2020 - 07:00


The Challenge:

Despite decades of international engagement, countless peace building operations, and billions of euros spent, insecurity remains persistent throughout many regions of Africa. While the continent has never been higher on the global agenda, specifically for the EU, Russia, and China, international engagement often appears blind to the root causes of conflict in Africa, often inadvertently exacerbating existing problems. For example, in the Sahel region, the EU is one of several actors pledging hundreds of millions of euros to the G5 Joint Force, without addressing the key issue of fiscal corruption and weak oversight in defence sector. This problem breeds instability across the region by handicapping military effectiveness and perpetuating unpaid soldiers’ involvement in illicit trade. As spending and political attention towards African security systems increases, it is crucial to examine whether funds are constructively addressing all drivers of instability, fragility, and forced displacement, and are also tailored to address strikingly different types of conflict across the continent.

Our Approach:

This research and advocacy project identifies the main drivers of instability, conflict and fragility across Africa. This project produced a series of analyses at the regional and country level, considering the intersectionality between circular conflict, socioeconomic vulnerabilities, and non-state actors. It further examined the persistent consequences of weak state authority and legitimacy, as well as the implications of the introduction of the Westphalian nation-state concept that was adopted following the colonial period. The second research component of the project specifically focused quantitative and qualitative analysis of the region’s military spending and defense transparency.


A second aspect of this project focuses on addressing structural obstacles preventing growth and stability across Africa, such as weak regional integration, neocolonial inefficiencies, and illicit financial flows. The ultimate goal is to identify solutions foster conditions that allow Africa to drive its own economic growth and security, which requires smarter, more adaptive partnerships that respond to new geopolitical challenges. Taking stock of the various security, migratory, and economic pressures rising in both Africa and Europe, the project examines how stronger multilateral cooperation and stronger governance may be able to underpin long-term solutions to shared challenges.