Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Africa Center for Strategic Studies?

The Africa Center is an academic institution established by the U.S. Congress for the study of security issues relating to Africa. The Center serves as a forum for bilateral and multilateral research, communication, and the exchange of ideas. One of five geographically focused centers established within the Department of Defense, the Africa Center aims to be an objective source of strategic analysis on contemporary and over-the-horizon security issues for African security sector professionals, policymakers, scholars, media, and civil society, as well as international partners.

As many African security challenges are nontraditional and societally based, the Africa Center engages with a wide range of security sector actors—civilian, uniformed, and civil society—with the aim of enhancing citizen security by strengthening the effectiveness and accountability of African security sector institutions.

When was the Africa Center established?

The Africa Center was established in March 1999 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. It moved to its current location at the National Defense University at historic Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC, in April 2004.

What are the Africa Center’s main activities?

The Africa Center has three main streams of interrelated activities: academic programs, community and alumni affairs, and research. In addition, the Center periodically supports requests to assist in strategic planning processes including national security strategy development, maritime security cooperation, security sector reform, and security sector institutional strengthening, among other areas. The Africa Center also regularly hosts public events, expert working groups, and interagency dialogues on vital Africa security issues.


The Africa Center’s academic programs examine strategic insights and analyses that can inform practitioners and policymakers on Africa’s security challenges. Participants include military, civilian, and civil society security sector professionals from Africa and their international counterparts. Drawing on practical experiences and lessons learned, the Center’s academic programs provide seminar-style venues for candid exchanges on priorities and best practices. The thematic focuses of the Africa Center’s academic programs include:

  • Strengthening leadership, strategy, and governance in Africa’s security sectors
  • Countering terrorism and violent extremism
  • Countering illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime
  • Stabilizing fragile states
  • Strengthening security sector institutions and democratic accountability
  • Strengthening Africa’s collective peace and security architecture

Community and Alumni Affairs

The Africa Center experience does not end at the conclusion of a program. The Africa Center community is a global network of approximately 7,000 professionals, representing all 54 African countries, who have participated in an Africa Center program. The Africa Center works to maintain and enhance the relationships forged during its programs to facilitate ongoing dialogue, information sharing, and networking in-country, across the continent, and with Africa Center experts. The Africa Center’s Community and Alumni Affairs directorate maintains contact with Africa Center graduates, who have the opportunity to attend outreach events and seminars, and join the Center’s online community to stay up to date on current security topics and scholarly insights.

Community Chapters are associations formed by alumni of Africa Center programs. They are independent, nongovernmental, nonpolitical organizations aimed at creating a forum for continuing education, dialogue, and exchanges among participants within a country. Each of the 34 chapters is unique, reflecting the particular interests of its members. Many chapters hold in-country seminars, host visiting scholars, or organize conferences.

Africa Center graduates often go on to senior positions within their countries. Our alumni include 9 heads of state and more than 200 cabinet ministers and ambassadors.


The Africa Center’s research aims to expand the analysis and understanding of Africa’s security challenges. These publications are authored by Africa Center faculty and independent scholars as practical, policy-relevant analyses with the intention of generating publicly available, evidence-based insights of contemporary and over-the-horizon security issues for African and international security practitioners, policymakers, and civil society actors. Building on the Center’s strong relationships on the continent, African authors account for at least half of these research products, facilitating an exchange of views on effective strategies and practices for advancing Africa’s security. These publications, in turn, inform Africa Center academic programs and community chapter dialogues.

Who can attend Africa Center academic programs, and how are participants selected?

Participants in Africa Center academic programs are typically nominated by African governments and supported by their respective U.S. Embassy. To ensure a balanced and varied program, the Africa Center takes into account such qualifications as rank, current job, ministry assignment, professional background, and experience. The Africa Center also seeks the participation of nongovernmental organizations, academia, media, and legislative representatives to facilitate exchanges between civilian and military actors and their interests with regard to African security.

What languages does the Africa Center use?

All Africa Center programs and research materials are available in English, French, and Portuguese.

Where does the Africa Center host its programs?

The Africa Center’s academic programs are held in various venues in Africa and the United States. Public roundtables and conferences are held periodically at the Center’s headquarters at National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Does the Africa Center offer scholarships?

The Africa Center does not offer scholarships.

Does the Africa Center have an internship program?

The Africa Center is always looking for bright, talented professionals who have an interest in African security issues. Africa Center internships are available on a rolling basis.

Read more about Africa Center internships

For additional questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact us.