ACSS Research Papers

The Africa Center’s Research Papers present focused policy-relevant examinations of priority security topics facing Africa. These reports provide needed background and analysis with the objective of informing policymakers on key considerations and paths forward.

  • Africa's Information Revolution: Implications for Crime, Policing, and Citizen Security

    By Steven Livingston, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2013

    Africa cell phone 200x300

    Violent crime represents a daily threat to millions of Africans, particularly in the continent's rapidly expanding urban areas. Contributing to this quandary are high levels of corruption within and distrust of many police forces. At times, criminal gangs fill the resulting security vacuum. Africa's booming information and communications technology sector also has the potential to fill this vacuum along multiple tracks, from crowdsourcing community insights about crime hotpots to raising the effectiveness and accountability of weak police forces.

    Download Africa Research Paper #5 [PDF]

  • Fragility and State-Society Relations in South Sudan

    By Kate Almquist Knopf, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, September 2013 southsudanTwo years into South Sudan's state-building effort, Africa's youngest country faces a variety of trials: the threat of renewed conflict with Sudan, localized ethnic-based insurgencies, deepening strains from food shortages, and weak governance structures, among others. Underlying all of these challenges are fragile state-society relations, which have constrained a national dialogue on needed reforms. Trust and confidence in the government can be generated through a concerted effort to build inclusive coalitions of state and nonstate actors, expand independent media, and construct a rules-based, accountable foundation for the new state.

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  • Stress-Testing South Africa: The Tenuous Foundations of One of Africa’s Stable States

    By Assis Malaquias, Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 2011 townships_sa

    Political violence in South Africa is worsening and indicates the country’s potential fragility. Since the end of apartheid, steadily rising inequality has deepened the divide between a wealthy minority and a poor majority. Frustration with an uneven pace of change often ignites into violent protest. Elite competition for financial and political resources available through the state also drives violence within and between competing political parties, usually at the local level where intimidation and assassination are sometimes used to ensure electoral success. Much competition exists in a grey area where the distinction between politics and crime is blurred.

    South Africans still overwhelmingly support the democratic process and view the government as legitimate. From this foundation the state can move to head off emerging political violence and stem ebbing public trust. This will require breaking up the current intertwining of political authority and economic opportunity. Citizens must also see tangible evidence that government is interested in the socioeconomic priorities of ordinary people.

    Download the Research Paper [PDF]: ENGLISHFRANÇAISPORTUGUÊS

  • Africa's Evolving Infosystems: A Pathway to Security and Stability

    By Steven Livingston, Africa Center for Strategic Studies | 2011 Africa Undersee cables Political instability and violence in Africa are often the products of rumor and misinformation. Biased newspapers and radio programming, for example, are commonplace conduits of politically divisive causes. Against this backdrop, remarkably innovative uses of emerging information technologies have been adapted to substantially strengthen transparency, accountability, and security. Africa's civil society networks now have unprecedented opportunities to develop security-monitoring programs, provide information needed for effective health care, create banking services, and provide farmers with market information. These evolving innovations are often organic to Africa and therefore optimized to serve the immediate needs of the communities from which they originate.

    While new information technologies can facilitate less-than positive purposes, including crime and politically motivated violence, on the whole they are enhancing human security and sustainable economic development across Africa. In this ACSS Research Paper, Steven Livingston explores precisely how such technologies impact the lives of urban citizens and remote villagers alike and identifies ways to amplify the positive potential of Africa's evolving infosystems.

    On May 3, 2011, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies hosted a roundtable on Africa’s Information Revolution Examines Implications for Governance and Security.

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  • Enhancing Civilian Protection in Peace Operations: Insights from Africa

    By Paul Williams, Africa Center for Strategic Studies 129576

    Recent incidents of systematic rapes in the eastern DRC and continued mass dislocations of populations in Somalia and Sudan have again thrust the issue of civilian protection and the responsibility of international peace operations onto news headlines around the world. Such episodes simultaneously damage the very credibility of peace operations. As home to 40 peace operations in 14 countries since 2000, Africa is at the forefront of grappling with the civilian protection issue.

    In this ACSS Research Paper, Paul Williams assesses the role civilian protection plays in peace operations, lessons learned from past civilian protection efforts, progress that has been made and key obstacles that remain in effectively providing protection to civilians caught up in armed conflict. Drawing on this experience, the paper puts forth ten priorities for improving civilian protection in ongoing and future peace operations – in Africa and beyond.

    ACSS's Research Papers present extended policy-relevant analysis on topics of pressing importance to Africa’s security.

    Download the Research Paper [PDF] in: ENGLISH | FRANÇAIS | PORTUGUÊS