Africa faces a complex combination of democratic backsliding, demographic pressures, entrenched poverty and climate change. The difficulty of addressing these challenges has been compounded by the impact of COVID-19, increasing terrorism and a legacy of weak or failed government responses. Prior to the pandemic, the continent was home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Africa’s wealth of critical natural resources also reflects its increasing progress and potential. Today, Africa presents an opportunity for renewed U.S. government engagement with countries in the region —  including the Democratic Republic of Congo — and key continental institutions like the African Union.



After being selected as the chair of the African Union this year, President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo set an ambitious agenda for 2021 — ranging from the promotion of African culture to peacebuilding to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. 

On July 20, USIP hosted a discussion with President Tshisekedi and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights that focused on a range of important issues confronting Africa, including strengthening democracy, human rights, economic growth, COVID vaccine availability and responding to peace and security challenges.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #AfricaUSIP.


Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi 
President of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chair of the African Union  

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA)
U.S. Representative; Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights

Dr. Joseph Sany
Vice President, Africa Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Lise Grandeopening remarks
President and CEO, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Four Lessons from Outbreaks in Africa for the Age of Coronavirus

Four Lessons from Outbreaks in Africa for the Age of Coronavirus

Monday, March 30, 2020

By: Aly Verjee

As the coronavirus pandemic continues and new behavioral practices—from social distancing to avoiding handshakes and hugs—become expected norms overnight, there are crucial policy lessons to be learned from struggles against previous outbreaks of disease in Africa. Despite widespread poverty, weak infrastructure, and relatively few health professionals, there is an encouraging, long record of African countries—often with significant international assistance and cooperation—eventually managing to overcome dire health challenges. For non-African countries already facing large numbers of COVID-19 infections, as well as for African countries where the epidemic is now at an early stage, policymakers would do well to recall these four lessons of past epidemics—of both what to do and, perhaps almost as importantly, what not to do to confront this global threat.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global HealthHuman Rights

The Perilous Path to Elections in the DRC

The Perilous Path to Elections in the DRC

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sighs of relief resounded throughout Central Africa and far beyond when Joseph Kabila, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), announced his decision to take a step back in the December 23 presidential elections. His support of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari (former interior minister and loyalist of Kabila’s PPRD) as the ruling party candidate removes the possibility that Kabila would ignore or eliminate term limits, which would further destabilize the fragile country.

Type: Blog

Electoral Violence

View All Publications