Frequently Asked Questions

How are speakers chosen?

Individuals are nominated by the appropriate federal agency or organization in their host countries to speak at Africa Center programs. These nominees must then be approved by the Africa Center. Additionally, the Africa Center invites representatives from prominent non-governmental organizations to contribute to the program in a meaningful way. Speakers and faculty members are chosen from within the Africa Center Community and generally regarded as subject matter experts in their field. Many former participants have developed the knowledge and foundation to return as a speaker or facilitator.

Who can attend and how are participants selected?

We try hard to ensure participants are a good fit. Therefore, we take into account such qualifications as rank, current job, ministry assignment, professional background, experience, and personal interest in African security issues. An electronic invitation is sent to each supporting U.S. Embassy in Africa. From that point we rely on each embassy to nominate and screen prospective candidates. Once selected your local embassy will contact you with additional details.

To a limited extent, external candidates representing non-governmental organizations, academia, social scientists, non-African military officers and government civilians, etc. are permitted to attend ACSS programs, however all program costs, travel, and accommodations will be the responsibility of the individual or organization. At this time, ACSS is not permitted to fund participation outside the criteria as stated in USC Title 10.

I have already attended an ACSS program—what is my next step?

The Africa Center experience does not end at graduation. Our Communications and Community Affairs (CCA) directorate maintains continuous contact with over 4,400 ACSS graduates, or more genially known as “Community Members” of the ACSS family. Active chapter members have the opportunity to attend outreach events, strategic seminars, and join our web-based community to stay up to date on the current security topics and scholarly insights from experts at the Africa Center. Many graduates join ACSS Community Chapters in twenty-three countries, with more chapters opening every year. CCA engages chapters annually through topical outreach programs that strengthen capacity and provide fresh perspectives on security issues of interest to Africa.

Does the Africa Center offer scholarships?

Under Title 10 of the United States Code, Congress has given us authority to fund program participation of government civilians and military service members from developing nations. If you meet the selection criteria, the Africa Center will provide you with travel and lodging at no cost to you.

Does the Africa Center offer accredited classes?

The Africa Center is not a traditional academic institution and therefore does not offer traditional courses. However, our “Next Generation of African Military Leaders” course is approved for three credit hours towards a master’s degree in the U.S.

Does the Africa Center have an exchange or visiting scholar program?

Individuals interested in possible exchange or visiting scholar opportunities are encouraged to coordinate external funding and necessary approval from your respective government institution, university, or scientific organization prior to inquiry. Although the Africa Center does not have an active exchange program, we are always looking for qualified scholars and researchers to join our team.

Read more about opportunities at the Africa Center.

Does the Africa Center offer fellowships to Africans?

The Research Fellows program is an initiative targeting exceptional African scholars and practitioners. Candidates will be considered on a rolling basis with the expectation that three to four Fellows will be selected to participate in the ongoing program over the course of a fiscal year.

Candidates for the Fellows program will be nominated by ACSS faculty, U.S. Embassies in Africa, or through the network of ACSS alumni currently serving as leaders Africa’s security sector. Competitive candidates will be evaluated based on the following:

  • Relevance of previous research conducted by the candidate;
  • Unique insights from previous practitioner or scholarship experience with demonstrated track record of exceptional performance;
  • Proven ability to present ideas in a clear and coherent analytic framework;
  • Demonstrated commitment to the future of African security.

Candidates selected to participate in the Research Fellows program will be invited to Washington for short seminar where s/he will have opportunities to present his/her analysis, gain feedback from topical experts, and exchange views in meetings with senior officials and other relevant parties in the DoD and US foreign policy community.

Does ACSS have an internship program?

The Africa Center is always looking for bright, talented professionals who have an interest in Africa and U.S.- African policy. ACSS internships are available throughout the year, and there are opportunities to work as note-takers and other capacities on a short-term basis when ACSS holds seminars in Washington DC.

Contact Human Resources for more information.

Read more about ACSS internships.

How does the Africa Center determine the location of its programs?

There are many factors that go into selecting a country for an Africa Center event such as availability of meeting facilities, ease of travel into the country, political stability of the country, a country’s diplomatic ties with the U.S., etc… Many programs are offered throughout the continent and some are held in the United States.

What languages does the Africa Center use?

All Africa Center programs and materials are available in both English and French. A third language, Portuguese, is sometimes added depending on the location of the program and the linguistic needs of participants. Despite the multitude of languages spoken in Africa, all participants MUST be fluent in one of the aforementioned languages.

How is the Africa Center funded?

The Africa Center is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. Some programs are coordinated with other entities such as the U.S. State Department, and authorized academic or scientific institutions of higher learning.

Is the Africa Center planning to move its headquarters to Africa?

While an African location remains a possibility for the future of the Africa Center, there are no current plans to move its headquarters there. ACSS does have regional offices located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Dakar, Senegal. ACSS plans to open additional regional offices in the future.

Read more about our Regional Offices.

What is an ACSS Community Member?

The Africa Center community is a global network of approximately 4,400 professionals who have participated in various Africa Center programs. While other institutions use terms like “alumni,” the Africa Center prefers to call these individuals “community members” to reinforce the long-term and mutually rewarding relationships between the Africa Center and its community throughout the world. The Africa Center works to maintain and enhance the relationships forged during its programs through a variety of efforts.

ACSS community members include current and former African heads of state, senior officials from U.S. and African governments, senior military leaders, ambassadors and diplomats, policy makers, academics, health and disaster management professionals, directors of international and regional organizations, and civil society leaders.

What is an ACSS Community Chapter?

One of the Africa Center’s missions is to develop empowered networks of current and future African military and civilian leaders. On a very practical level, it is almost impossible to maintain quality relationships and to develop targeted programs for 4,400 individual community members throughout Africa and elsewhere in the world. ACSS community chapters are alumni associations. They are formed by community members in a single country. They are independent, non-governmental, non-political organizations. Community chapters provide the organizational structure needed for ACSS and the U.S. government to develop and implement programs that promote long-term relationships through which African and U.S. leaders can develop a common understanding of defense-related issues on the Continent.

Are any famous people ACSS Community Members?

ACSS graduates have and continue to go on to senior positions within their countries. We count among our ranks: presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, flag/general officers, ambassadors, and a host of other senior officials.

How long has the Africa Center existed?

The idea for a Department of Defense (DoD) Regional Center for Africa originated at the U.S. European Command in November 1994. Through language in Appropriations Committee reports in 1996 and 1997, the House International Relations Committee, then chaired by former Representative Ronald Dellums (D-CA), encouraged the DoD to establish a Center on African Affairs.

In March 1998, President Bill Clinton made the first major trip to sub-Saharan Africa by a U.S. president in more that 20 years. While there, he discussed promoting a U.S.-Africa partnership for the 21st century based on mutual respect and mutual interest. A White House press release on April 1, 1998, announced the establishment of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies:

“The ACSS will be a regional center modeled after the George C. Marshall Center in Germany designed in consultation with African nations and intended to promote the exchange of ideas and information tailored specifically for African concerns.”

ACSS was formally established in March 1999 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. ACSS moved to its current location at the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., in April 2004.

To whom may I talk if I have other questions or suggestions?

The Africa Center staff would be pleased to answer any questions, address your concerns, or take your suggestions. Please contact us.