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.

Currents Projects

Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) in the Horn and Sahel

Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) in the Horn and Sahel

USIP’s Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) program aims to shape national policies and community approaches to countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. USIP does this by empowering women-led organizations and building local capacity that fosters collaboration between community-level activists and national-level policymakers.

Gender; Violent Extremism

Red Sea Rising: Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East

Red Sea Rising: Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East

The states on the western side of the Red Sea to the south of Egypt and the Arab states from the east of Egypt through the Arabian Gulf have long been considered distinct regions. This is increasingly a distinction without a difference, however, as these states now operate more as a common political, security, and economic zone.

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Featured Publications

Five Ways to Set Up a Special Envoy for Success in the Horn of Africa

Five Ways to Set Up a Special Envoy for Success in the Horn of Africa

Thursday, February 11, 2021

By: Judd Devermont; Colin Thomas-Jensen

When in doubt, dispatch an envoy. That’s become an old diplomatic standby, and it is currently under consideration for the Horn of Africa, where a civil war rages in Ethiopia and has ensnared neighboring Eritrea, Somalia, and Sudan. The conflict, which broke out in November 2020, has left millions in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance. The U.N. special adviser on the prevention of genocide recently warned that “the risk of atrocity crimes in Ethiopia remains high and likely to get worse.” If the crisis continues to fester, it will have grave consequences for U.S. interests in a region situated on the crossroads between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

What Does Sudan’s New Cabinet Mean for its Transition?

What Does Sudan’s New Cabinet Mean for its Transition?

Monday, February 8, 2021

By: Joseph Tucker

The announcement on February 8 of a new Cabinet in Khartoum—the product of a peace accord signed by Sudan’s transitional government with several armed groups in October 2020 through a deal brokered by South Sudan—offers hope that the broader inclusion of political leaders can help address Sudan’s pressing challenges and create peace dividends. Unfortunately, the lengthy process of selecting new Cabinet members revealed additional fractures among both signatories to the peace deal and civilian political elements that seemingly offer competing visions for the transition and beyond.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

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