This article examines the recent past and prospective developments (over a 2-3 year timeframe) for sub-Saharan African countries in three areas of major concern to American foreign-policy makers: peace and security, democracy and governance, and economic growth and development. Each topic area is discussed separately at the continental level to place sub-Saharan Africa in comparative perspective, at the regional level, and then at the country-level. Attention is given to recent, specific country incidences to establish possible trends.
Peace and Security
While in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Asia was the region with the most armed violence (as measured by number of casualties), Africa suffered from the most conflict in the following two decades. In the 2000’s, especially with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a notable number of peace settlements in Africa, the continent ceded its role as the leading arena for conflict, although wars still continued, notably in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia. From 2000 to 2006, more wars ended, on average, in Africa each year than began.
More recently, however, there have been fears that Africa will regain its position as the world area where conflict is most heavily located. Part of this concern can be tied to U.S. pullbacks from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, recently, there has also been the breakout of conflict in a number of countries. The advent of civil war in Mali and the subsequent French intervention is particularly notable because Mali had been seen as a good performer and had received significant U.S. military aid to professionalize its army. There has also been the emergence of less surprising conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, both poor, divided and weak states. Finally, violence in Nigeria has increased as the army seems unable to suppress Boko Haram. There are also warning signs that the settlement in Mozambique—site of one of the great successes in African conflict resolution—are coming undone, although we do not believe that political settlement will be challenged