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The Political Economy of Democracy and Peacebuilding in Africa in the COVID-19 Era

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Africa Program hosted the 2021 Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding (SVNP) Virtual Annual Conference, “The Political Economy of Democracy and Peacebuilding in Africa in the COVID-19 Era,” from July 19-23, 2021.

Date

Jul. 21 – 23, 2021
8:30am – 12:30pm ET

Overview

You may also view a playlist of all public conference sessions below.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Africa Program hosted the 2021 Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding (SVNP) Virtual Annual Conference, “The Political Economy of Democracy and Peacebuilding in Africa in the COVID-19 Era,” from July 19-23, 2021.

The Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding (SVNP) is a continent-wide network of  22 African policy, research and academic organizations that works with the Wilson Center’s Africa Program to bring African knowledge and perspectives to U.S., African, and international policy on peacebuilding in Africa. Established in 2011 and supported by the generous financial support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the project provides avenues for African researchers and practitioners to generate knowledge, engage with, inform, and exchange analyses and perspectives with U.S., African, and international policymakers in order to develop the most appropriate, cohesive, and inclusive policy frameworks and approaches to achieving sustainable peace in Africa.

The theme of the 2021 conference was “The Political Economy of Democracy and Peacebuilding in Africa in the COVID-19 Era.” The conference, held virtually, convened 19 representatives from 16 of the 23 SVNP organizations and over 230 members of the public, policymakers, practitioners, experts, and international stakeholders joined the sessions.

As in other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Africa, not only in the realm of health, but in the areas of peace, security, democracy, economy, and international relations. Over 5 days of internal and public sessions, participants assessed the impact of COVID-19 on democracy, development, and peacebuilding in Africa; examined the crosscutting dynamics of gender, youth, and technology, and how they influence democracy, development, and peacebuilding in Africa; heard from several SVNP authors of The State of Peacebuilding in Africa: Lessons Learned for Policymakers and Practitioners and winners of the SVNP “Peacebuilding in Africa” Research Award Competition; analyzed the key security trends and challenges posed by non-state actors and international stakeholders on Africa’s peace and security, and the impact of COVID-19 these dynamics; and examined the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” campaign to reflect upon the way forward for building sustainable peace in Africa.

Public session speakers included SVNP members and representatives from the White House National Security Council, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House, Northwind Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Department of Defense, the African Peacebuilding Network, and the African Union.

Key themes that came out of the conference included: COVID-19’s exacerbation of democratic backsliding and its testing of governance and social contracts in Africa; the creation of opportunities for more inclusive civic and democratic participation thanks to an increased digital space under COVID-19; the continuing necessity of women and youth voices in Africa’s democratic and peacebuilding space; the role of technology as a double-edged sword when it comes to democracy and good governance; a call for African stakeholders to continue leveraging their voices and expertise to further influence global conversations on health, technology, economy, democracy, and peacebuilding, and for international partners and institutions to meaningfully engage their expertise; the importance of involving and empowering local, national, and regional expertise and voices in peacebuilding; the need for cooperation among non-state actors and international stakeholders in addressing African security issues and building peace; and the need for African peacebuilding architectures and initiatives to be flexible, adaptive, and inclusive.

A forthcoming report sharing conference outcomes will be available on this page. You may also view a playlist of all public conference sessions below.

Speakers

Chukwuemeka Eze

Chukwuemeka Eze

Executive Director, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
Nicholas Ozor

Dr. Nicholas Ozor

Executive Director, African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS)
Cheryl Hendricks

Cheryl Hendricks

Executive Director, African Institute of South Africa, Human Sciences Research Council 
Dizolele

Mvemba Phezo Dizolele

Senior Advisor, International Republican Institute 

Jon Temin

Director, Africa Program, Freedom House
Helen Kezie-Nwoah

Helen Kezie-Nwoha

Executive Director, Women's International Peace Centre (Uganda)
Fredrick Ogenga

Fredrick Ogenga

Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar;
Associate Professor of Media and Security Studies, Rongo University and Founding Director, Center for Media, Democracy, Peace & Security (CMDPS).
Franklin Oduro

Franklin Oduro

Deputy Executive Director/Director of Programs , Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD)
Fritz Nganje

Fritz Nganje

Former Public Policy Scholar;
Researcher, Institute for Global Dialogue, South Africa 
Jok Madut Jok

Jok Madut Jok

Former Fellow;
Professor, Syracuse University and Senior Researcher, The Sudd Institute
Onubogu

Oge Onubogu

Director, West Africa, United State Institute of Peace (USIP)
Cyril Obi

Cyril Obi

Program Director, African Peacebuilding Network, Social Science Research Council
Anas El Gomati

Anas El Gomati

Founder and General Director, Sadeq Institute

Fr. Alain Nzadi-a-Nzadi

Director, Centre d'Etudes pour l'Action Sociale (CEPAS)
MaxAmanu

Max Amanu

Programs Officer, Northwinds Foundation 

Aïssatou Hayatou

Acting Head, AUDA-NEPAD Coordination Unit, African Union Commission

Thompson Ayodele

Director, Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (Nigeria)
Hannah Beckett Akuiyibo

Hannah Akuiyibo

Program Associate
Osei

Osei Baffour Frimpong

Former Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar;
Lead Regional Researcher and Conflict Analyst, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), Ghana
Arsène Brice Bado

Arsène Brice Bado

Southern Voices Network Scholar;
Associate researcher, CERAP

Hosted By

Africa Program

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

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