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From the Maskani to the Mayor: The Political Economy of Heroin Markets in East and Southern Africa

Recommended research   published by Simone Haysom, ENACT on February 13, 2020

Urbanization and governance shape the political economy of heroin trafficking in Southern and East Africa. Case studies of heroin trafficking dynamics in capital cities, port towns, interior hubs, and border communities suggest that counter-trafficking efforts should strengthen cross-border intelligence sharing, combat government corruption, consider local communities, address the role of informal transport systems in the narcotics trade, and mitigate the drug trade’s role in fueling violence.

Players of Many Parts: The Evolving Role of Smugglers in West Africa’s Migration Economy

Recommended research   published by Ekaterina Golovko, Mixed Migration Center on June 30, 2019

Based on interviews with over 100 smugglers and 3,000 migrants, patterns of migrant smuggling in Mali and Niger emerge. In Niger, prior to the 2015 anti-smuggling law, smuggling networks were easy to join and fluidly linked, not always adhering to a fixed, hierarchical mode of criminal operations. Since then however, more professionalized criminal networks have consolidated market control. Most migrants reported initiating their travel without the encouragement of smugglers, but subsequently used smuggler facilitation services.

The Heroin Coast: A Political Economy Along the Eastern African Seaboard

Recommended research   published by Simone Haysom, Peter Gastrow and Mark Shaw, ENACT on June 30, 2018

African countries are among the world’s most vulnerable to and least prepared for climate change. African citizens prioritize issues that are related to climate change, such as water supply, food shortages, and agriculture. Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns have devastated African countries that depend on agriculture. Only about 3 in 10 Africans are fully “climate change literate,” combining awareness of climate change with basic knowledge about its causes and negative effects. Building climate resilience will require commitment and coordination, backed by significant resources and a population that supports prioritizing it.

Russia’s Strategic Goals in Africa

(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.

The Sudanese Military’s Interests in Civilian Rule

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle on March 23, 2021

Proactive management of the transition to civilian rule would afford the Sudanese military more stability, budgetary support, and professional benefits.

Africa Check: Sorting Facts from Fakes

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on March 23, 2021

The rise in disinformation in Africa poses a threat to security, public health, and democracy. Combatting this requires building the capacity of Africa’s fact-checking community and improving media literacy.

Reshaping African Agency in China-Africa Relations

Spotlight   published by Paul Nantulya on March 2, 2021

The power imbalance between China and Africa poses a challenge for negotiating equitable investment deals. The interests of African citizens can be strengthened through agreements that are transparent, involve experts, and facilitate public engagement.

Untangling Post-Election Uganda

Spotlight   published by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies on February 4, 2021

Sharp losses by the long-ruling NRM party reveal a shifting political landscape in Uganda, reflecting the will of a younger and more energized electorate looking for change.

Enhancing Security-Justice Coordination to Counter Transnational Organized Crime

Program Materials  

A virtual academic program cohosted with the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism that focuses on effective community policing as a tool for countering violent extremism. This program provides an opportunity to capture and share insights, experiences, and lessons, among countries and across regions, about both the implementation challenges in community policing and the practical experiences in bridging gaps between the security sector and the communities they are entrusted with protecting and serving

Taking Stock of Africa’s 2021 Elections

Spotlight   published by Joseph Siegle and Candace Cook on January 12, 2021

Africa is slated to hold 13 national elections in 2021. Roughly half of these are in the Horn and the central Sahel. Reflective of the democratic backsliding observed on the continent in recent years, more than a third of these polls are little more than political theater – aimed at garnering a fig leaf of legitimacy for leaders who arguably lack a popular mandate. A fundamental question for this year’s elections, therefore, isn’t just about who will win, but how these leaders will be viewed afterward. Will the same level of legitimacy be conferred on leaders who stay in office via these stage-managed processes? Until these leaders bear a reputational cost for lowering the bar of electoral integrity, this trend can be expected to continue.

Tri-border Transit: Trafficking and Smuggling in the Burkina Faso–Côte d’Ivoire–Mali Region

Recommended research   published by Roberto Sollazzo and Matthias Nowak, Small Arms Survey on November 12, 2020

Expanded militant Islamist group activity combined with increased wealth from artisanal gold mining in the tri-border region between Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso has heightened the risks of insecurity, fueling demand for illicit small arms. This scenario may degenerate into a self-perpetuating cycle where the availability of arms sparks further insecurity, pressuring communities to seek more firepower for self-defense or retaliation. Community members frequently participate smuggling and trafficking as informants, providers of storage, and subcontractors for the repair of motorcycles, etc. Law enforcement activities must balance against the possibility of disrupting income streams to already poor border communities, or they risk pushing some actors further into the criminal economy perpetuating this cycle.

Reforming the Security Sector in Sudan: The Need for a Framework

Spotlight   published by Luka Biong D. Kuol on November 2, 2020

Sudan needs a national security strategy to guide the reforms of its security sector from a tool of repression to sustain the old regime to a professional force that protects citizens under a democratic system.