The U.S. Institute of Peace established the Africa Center in October 2020 to deepen, elevate, and expand the Institute’s commitment to stem violent conflict in Africa by advancing dialogue and informing policy that is underpinned by evidence, experience, and learning.

Partnerships with African countries offer tremendous possibilities to advance shared values, priorities, and U.S and global security. African citizens consistently express their preference for democratic and accountable governance, and the continent has the fastest growing and youngest population in the world. These realities are driving innovation in technology, health, citizen engagement, and conflict resolution.

And from violent extremism to global health challenges to major power competition, Africa’s future directly impacts our own. Recognizing this interconnectedness, the Africa Center helps advance peace agreements and political processes and seeks to forge a dialogue on genuine partnerships between the United States and African countries to build healthier state-society relationships and inclusive societies.

The Africa Center partners with those working to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflict by using analysis, training, and in-country programming to achieve sustainable and inclusive peace. Specifically, the Center leads the Institute’s engagement in sub-Saharan Africa:

  • In Nigeria, the Africa Center engages in direct action for peace by fostering the development of inclusive, accountable, and effective institutions of governance, security, and conflict resolution through strengthening the state-level peacebuilding architecture, including community peacebuilding.
  • Across the Greater Horn of Africa, the Africa Center promotes inclusion through improved communication between government and citizens while building citizen capacity to conduct research, implement programming, and inform inclusive policymaking that prevents and reduces the threat of violence.
  • In the Sahel region, the Africa Center empowers its partners to transform ongoing violent conflicts in order to build community resilience and inclusive and responsive institutions.

The Africa Center partners with civic networks and organizations—as well as regional and continental bodies—who are championing the nonviolent resolution of conflicts:

Across all of its work, the Africa Center examines the impact of regional and global power competition on the continent by supporting informed policies and effective systems for international cooperation. Working in partnership with USIP’s China program, the Africa Center explores opportunities for new multilateral formats to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflict, including in the Red Sea arena. The Africa Center works closely with USIP’s Middle East and North Africa Center to understand transregional conflict dynamics and connect local peacebuilders to regional efforts.

Current Projects

Critical Minerals in Africa

Critical Minerals in Africa

Often throughout Africa’s history, natural resource exploitation has brought devastating consequences. However, it’s clear that Africa’s critical minerals will be developed regardless of the risks. The question is: How will critical minerals be developed and to whose benefit?

EconomicsEnvironmentGlobal Policy

Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance

Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance

The Nigeria Working Group on Peacebuilding and Governance is a joint initiative between USIP and senior leaders from Nigerian civil society to promote good governance practices that strengthen the foundations of peace and security for all Nigerians. Using a cohesive, strategic approach to engage in and advocate for peace and security, the working group fosters relationships between citizens and governors, ensuring that citizens' voices impact crucial decisions.

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Elections & ConflictMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

State of the Peace in Nigeria

State of the Peace in Nigeria

USIP seeks to fill the gap in information regarding communal conflicts and locally driven peace initiatives across Nigeria by publishing an annual State of Peace in Nigeria (SOPN) report. While measuring violence is relatively straightforward, defining what peace means to ordinary Nigerians has been largely overlooked — even though such definitions may be more meaningful.

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel

Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel

In May 2021, USIP created the Bipartisan Senior Study Group for the Sahel comprised of 12 current and former high-level U.S. officials, renowned academics and prominent Africa experts. The senior study group aims to generate new insights into the complex challenges facing the Sahel region, including food security, human rights, security assistance, private sector development and job creation — as well as great power competition. The senior study group will provide original recommendations to the U.S. government and governments in the Sahel region to improve foreign assistance, resolve conflict and support lasting peace.

Civilian-Military RelationsDemocracy & GovernancePeace ProcessesViolent Extremism

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Featured Publications

To Help Stabilize West Africa, Bolster a Key Partner: Nigeria

To Help Stabilize West Africa, Bolster a Key Partner: Nigeria

Monday, April 15, 2024

By: Rachel Yeboah Boakye;  Chris Kwaja;  Matthew Reitman

Continued violence in West Africa is sharpening America’s critical challenge to reduce extremism and violence, particularly in the Sahel. Violent deaths in three western Sahel nations surged by 38% last year and Niger’s coup has complicated the U.S. military role in the region. The violence is likely to spread further this year into coastal West Africa, a region five times more populous, with commensurately greater security implications for Africa, the United States and the world. A vital partner in stabilizing both regions is Nigeria, and U.S. institutions should consider several priorities for helping it do so.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & Governance

Linking Early Warning and Early Response Networks to Curb Violence in West Africa

Linking Early Warning and Early Response Networks to Curb Violence in West Africa

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

By: Nate Haken;  Patricia Taft Nasri;  Nikita Reece

A conflict early warning and early response (EWER) ecosystem has been developing in West Africa as multilateral organizations, governments, civil society groups, and others have established systems that detect threats and provide critical information to relevant authorities. Yet individual EWER systems are prone to a range of failures—from gaps in data to decision-making bottlenecks to response coordination breakdowns. This report argues that linking individual systems—a network-of-networks approach—can improve outcomes for people across West Africa and serve as a model for other conflict-affected regions around the world.

Type: Peaceworks

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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