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The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and US-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial US-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States.

The Africa Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, including our blog Africa Up Close, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in US-Africa relations.

The Africa Program focuses on four core issues:

i.    Good governance and leadership: The linchpin of peace, security, and sustainable development is inclusive governance and leadership. Undoubtedly, Africa has made significant progress in democratic governance since the 1990s, when only 3 African countries were characterized as democratic by Freedom House, compared to 21 in 2015. However, significant challenges remain. In interrogating governance challenges in Africa, much of the focus has been on presidential elections, term limits, and high-profile crises of leadership, to the exclusion of governance innovations at the local, state, and national levels. The Africa Program seeks to delve beyond the surface, to provide a comprehensive and in-depth look at presidential leadership, distill the lessons learned, and offer options for strengthening the institutions, systems, and processes that underpin inclusive and sustainable governance.

ii.    Conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and security: While the number of armed conflicts in Africa and across the world has declined since the Cold War, several African countries still face latent tensions and active conflicts. In fact, as of 2015, Africa accounts for 9 of 16 ongoing United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as 2 African Union missions. It is clear that conflict continues to impose a devastating impact on the continent, particularly in terms of the millions of lives lost and maimed, as well as development costs. Despite effective strategies for conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction, there remains a dearth of research into effective interventions to prevent conflict and build sustainable, peaceful communities. The Africa Program responds to this knowledge gap with policy-relevant research and enhanced dialogue focused on reviewing and analyzing current approaches, lessons learned, best practices, and options for more effective conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and state-building in Africa.

Currently the Africa Program is investigating these issues under the banner of the Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

iii.    Trade, investment, and sustainable development: Between 2001 and 2010, African countries accounted for 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. At the same time, more and more international partners demonstrated growing economic interest in Africa, and foreign direct investment in Africa enjoyed a decade of growth to reach $87 billion by 2014. Yet, as evidenced in part by their performance on the Millennium Development Goals targets, many African countries struggled to translate this economic growth into broad-based development and human security for the vast majority of their citizens. The Africa Program interrogates Africa’s economic growth, challenges, and transformation and how African countries can more effectively tie resource endowment, economic growth, and international trade and investment to impactful delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals and human security in Africa.

Currently the Africa Program is investigating these issues under the banner of the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum, funded by Brown Capital Management.

iv.    Africa's evolving role in the global arena: Despite the periods of tremendous economic growth and successive waves of democratic consolidation that have taken place on the continent since the 1990s, many commentators still engage with an “Africa” that no longer exists. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain across the economic, political, and social spheres. The Africa Program seeks to challenge the dominant narrative of the continent by providing realistic and grounded assessments of the progress, challenges, and ways forward for African nations as their relations with international partners continue to evolve in an increasingly interdependent world.

The Program maintains a cross-cutting focus on the roles of women, youth, and technology, which are critical to Africa's future: to supporting good governance, to securing peace, to mitigating poverty, and to assuring sustainable development.