USIP supports a cohort of early career scholars from across Africa as they research how China’s economic engagement in Africa impacts peace and security. In a field often dominated by outside expertise, this project builds the capacity of local researchers in a manner that prioritizes academic independence and rigor. The cohort is guided by a research advisory committee of senior experts on Africa-China relations, and the final research outputs will serve policymakers both in Africa and in the broader international community.

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. 

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, under construction on the Blue Nile in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, June 24, 2018.  (Laura Boushnak/The New York Times)

Meanwhile, Chinese actors often claim that their economic engagements are a driver of developmental peace, claiming that they are pillars of human security on the continent. In a politicized context with competing narratives, evidence-based research is vital to understand what is working and what is not for human security in the region.

African scholars are best suited to shed light on these dynamics, as their perspective is rooted in their own political systems, economies and societies. And yet, much of the analysis on Africa-China engagement to date has been conducted by scholars from outside of the continent. This program addresses that shortfall by centering the analysis and research of African early career scholars from across the continent.

About the Project

This year, a total of 17 researchers from a mixture of Anglophone and Francophone countries in Africa are conducting original, fieldwork-based research on how to address human security issues that may be arising from Chinese economic engagements.

The researchers are analyzing topics such as infrastructure construction, resource extraction, wildlife trading, technology, and arms trading in the following countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Sudan, Uganda and Zambia.

Their academic independence and rigor are ensured by the research advisory committee, who guide and support the researchers’ work and dissemination. The four members of this research advisory committee also serve as advisors on research design, facilitate networking with other experts in their fields and co-organize periodic virtual training workshops.

Latest Publications

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

The Next Five Years Are Crucial for Bougainville’s Independence Bid

Friday, August 12, 2022

By: Brian Harding;  Camilla Pohle-Anderson

Now that Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has been reelected, the stage is set for him to settle what he has called the biggest issue facing the country — the future political status of Bougainville, an autonomous region seeking independence by 2027. Papua New Guinea is unlikely to let it secede, but Bougainville is unlikely to settle for anything less than full independence, and positive relations between the two governments will be of paramount importance in the coming years. Meanwhile, intensifying U.S.-China competition in the South Pacific creates wider implications for Bougainville’s potential independence.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

The New U.S. Africa Strategy Is a Moment We Must Seize

The New U.S. Africa Strategy Is a Moment We Must Seize

Thursday, August 11, 2022

By: Joseph Sany, Ph.D.

America’s new strategy toward Africa, released this week amid Secretary of State Blinken’s visit to the continent, offers promise for a newly productive relationship, and not a moment too soon. Global crises such as food insecurity, pandemic diseases and climate change—and Africa’s inevitable move in this generation to the world’s center stage—make a first real U.S.-Africa partnership vital. Yet a strategy is not a solution. Both American and African peoples and governments now face urgent tasks to seize this moment and jointly frame concrete milestones for the implementation of a new transatlantic partnership, ideally by December’s U.S.-African Leaders’ Summit.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Five Messages Biden Should Take from His Middle East Trip: A Regional Perspective

Five Messages Biden Should Take from His Middle East Trip: A Regional Perspective

Thursday, August 11, 2022

By: Ambassador Hesham Youssef

Before and since President Biden took office, debates have proliferated around an American “retrenchment” from the Middle East. The administration has consistently asserted that it is not withdrawing from the region, only aligning strategy and resources — “right-sizing” in the parlance of the moment. Still, most of the region remains unconvinced.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

A Year After the Taliban Takeover: What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

A Year After the Taliban Takeover: What’s Next for the U.S. in Afghanistan?

Thursday, August 11, 2022

By: Kate Bateman

A year ago this month, the United States’ longest war ended, punctuated by the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Kabul. In the year since, U.S. policy on Afghanistan has focused on evacuating remaining U.S. citizens and partners in the country and addressing the country’s deteriorating humanitarian and economic crises. U.S. engagement with the Taliban has been limited and Washington has premised normalizing relations on the Taliban upholding counterterrorism commitments, respecting human rights and establishing an inclusive political system. There has been little indication that the Taliban are interested in following through on the latter two issues and the recent killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul demonstrates that the regime has not met its pledge to cut ties with transnational terrorist groups.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Parties Split, Rebels Rise, and the Junta Schemes

Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Parties Split, Rebels Rise, and the Junta Schemes

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

By: Kyaw Hsan Hlaing

Myanmar’s military regime has a plan for trying to establish its governing legitimacy next year: In August of 2023, the dictatorship, which overthrew a democratically elected government in early 2021, intends to hold sham elections. A critical piece of this strategy involves maneuvering Myanmar’s welter of small ethnic parties into taking part in the electoral process. Nowhere are the risks and uncertainties inherent in the generals’ plan more evident than in poor but economically strategic Rakhine State on Myanmar’s western border with Bangladesh and India.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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