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

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

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

Peace and Security Issues in Africa-China Economic Relations

Peace and Security Issues in Africa-China Economic Relations

Much of the research that has been conducted on the impact of China’s economic engagement with Africa has focused on their economic exchanges and security engagements in isolation of one another. But few have sought to understand the interconnections between these themes. These interconnections matter, as some Chinese firms are responsible for environmental degradation, population displacement, corruption and illegal extraction activities — all of which are factors that can drive conflict. 

EconomicsEnvironmentFragility & ResilienceHuman Rights

Network of Nigerian Facilitators

Network of Nigerian Facilitators

The Network of Nigerian Facilitators (NNF) is a group of professional peace mediators trained and advised by USIP to mitigate and resolve local conflicts through nonviolent means in Nigeria. Since 2018, USIP has supported the NNF with the aim of preventing conflicts from escalating beyond the community level by piloting dialogue-based approaches and connecting local peacebuilders with policymakers to inform government responses to conflicts.

Conflict Analysis & PreventionElectoral ViolenceMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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Featured Publications

Ukraine’s Africa Visit Shows Its Fight Against Russia Goes Beyond the Battlefield

Ukraine’s Africa Visit Shows Its Fight Against Russia Goes Beyond the Battlefield

Thursday, November 3, 2022

By: Heather Ashby, Ph.D.

In the days before Russia’s bombing escalation in Ukraine in early October, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was visiting Africa in a bid to garner support and counter Moscow’s propaganda about the war. While much of the Western world has rallied around Ukraine, African states have largely avoided taking sides. For its part, Russia has been on a diplomatic offensive in much of the Global South, lobbying African, Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries to not join international sanctions and condemnation against Moscow. Indeed, Ukraine’s fight against Russia is not only taking place on the battlefield, but also through an ambitious and needed international diplomacy efforts that extends from Europe to the Global South.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Another Coup in the Sahel: Here’s a Way to Halt This Cycle

Another Coup in the Sahel: Here’s a Way to Halt This Cycle

Thursday, October 20, 2022

By: Sandrine Nama;  Joseph Sany, Ph.D.

This month’s coup d’etat in Burkina Faso, the seventh in 26 months around the Sahel region, only extends the Sahel’s long agonies of failing governance, civil wars and violent extremism. Military-led intervention by France and other outside powers has failed to stem the widening destabilization of a landmass and population vastly bigger than those of the recent U.S. wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. U.S. and international security require a policy reset that addresses the Sahel crisis’ causes rather than its symptoms. In Burkina Faso and other states, this means supporting inclusive processes of national dialogue that can mobilize whole of the society to address those causes.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Civilian-Military RelationsMediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

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