Africa Center Launches West Africa TOPS Trip

By Africa Center for Strategic Studies
Updated: 01/11/2011

cameroonCommunity Outreach Specialist Amelia Carvalho has begun an ambitious coordinating mission to four West African countries as part of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ Topical Outreach Program Series (TOPS).

The first stop on Ms. Carvalho’s Jan. 10–27 TOPS trip is Cameroon for a community chapter reunion. Mathurin Houngnikpo, Ph.D., the Africa Center’s Chair of Civil-Military Relations, will be on hand to give a presentation on “Transnational Cooperation and Resource Management in Central Africa.”

Joining Ms. Carvalho and Dr. Houngnikpo will be Colonel Xavier Collignon, the Senior French Representative to the Africa Center, who will speak at the Cameroon War College on maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Jeffrey McManus will follow Colonel Collignon with a talk at the Cameroon Defense Staff College about U.S. foreign policy toward Africa. Mr. McManus is the Director, Central-North-West Team, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, International Security Affairs, Africa.

The Africa Center team will then travel to Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. Ms. Carvalho has coordinated arrangements for Dr. Houngnikpo to speak to the local community chapter and guests on the “Challenges of Democracy: Lessons from the Ivory Coast” as well as “The Army and the Nation: The Role of the Army in the Nation and the State’s Response to the Army.”

A short ride across the Congo River will bring the party to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Africa Center visit will commence with a community chapter planning meeting and reception. According to Ms. Carvalho, Dr. Houngnikpo’s reputation as a scholar has preceded him, with the Congolese community chapter expressing great interest in hearing him speak about combating corruption.

The final stop of the TOPS tour will be Gabon for the launch of a new Africa Center community chapter on Jan. 23. With 66 Gabonese alumni of Africa Center programs, the country has a solid foundation on which to build a chapter. U.S. Ambassador Eric Benjaminson will host a reception and Elizabeth Feleke, Director of the Africa Center West Africa Regional Office, will speak on the topic of narcotics trafficking.

The West Africa trip will conclude with a strategic planning meeting at the Gabon Ministry of Defense.