The number of active social media users in Africa has tripled from 100 million to over 400 million people since 2016. Three-quarters of these users access the internet through their mobile devices. Users in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya spend over three hours per day on social media. Africa’s rapidly shifting information landscape has created asymmetric leverage for anti-democratic actors to propagate false information for political ends. Russia has aggressively exported and honed its disinformation tactics in African countries where it seeks to exercise influence. A growing number of domestic political actors and militant Islamist groups have developed similar tactics to manipulate the content seen by users, harass and drive civil society leaders offline, and confuse citizens with a barrage of intentionally misleading information. These campaigns are becoming better concealed and more sophisticated. Disinformation represents a destabilizing threat to the open and dependable information pathways on which democracies rely.
Intervening to Undermine Democracy in Africa: Russia’s Playbook for Influence
Russia has systematically sought to undercut democracy in Africa, both to normalize authoritarianism as well as to create an entry point for Russian influence.
Disinformation Drilling into Africa’s Information Ecosystems
Rapidly shifting information pathways have created vulnerabilities that foreign powers—led by Russia, China, and the Gulf States—have aggressively exploited.
The Creeping Loss of African Sovereignty
Unaccountable regimes in Africa are highly vulnerable to exploitation by external authoritarian actors—at a heavy cost to citizen sovereignty.
Why Russia is on a Charm Offensive in Africa
Moscow is trying to gain influence in Africa without investing in it, a strategy that can only gain traction if certain African leaders see Russia as a means to validate their own hold on power regardless of popular will.
Kenyan Elections—Another Test in the Country’s Democratic Journey
Kenya’s competitive presidential elections reflect hard-earned progress in establishing independent constitutional and judicial guardrails, though a history of electoral violence demands all sides show restraint.
Russia and the Future International Order in Africa
The application of a Russian-shaped international order in Africa would have destabilizing repercussions for the continent.
Mapping Disinformation in Africa
Russia has pioneered a model of disinformation to gain political influence in Africa that is now being replicated by other actors across the continent.
Debunking the Malian Junta’s Claims
Mali’s military coup has thrust the country into a deeper security crisis as the junta quashes dissent and resists a democratic transition.
Strategic Implications for Africa from Russia’s Invasion in Ukraine
The invasion of Ukraine is a wake-up call to the implications of Russia’s attempts to export its governance model to Africa—with sobering consequences for African sovereignty and stability.
Deluge of Digital Repression Threatens African Security
African governments are using the pretext of security to restrict digital communications and citizens’ rights. In the process, they are inadvertently contributing to economic losses and greater instability.
Domestic Disinformation on the Rise in Africa
A growing trend of domestic political actors deploying targeted disinformation schemes requires expanded fact-checking capacity in Africa and collaboration with social media organizations.
Russia’s Wagner Play Undermines the Transition in Mali
The prospective deployment of Russia’s Wagner mercenaries should not be confused with addressing Mali’s security situation but is a means of expanding Russian influence while propping up the military junta.
A Light in Libya’s Fog of Disinformation
Divisions within Libya’s civil war have been amplified by foreign-sponsored disinformation campaigns. Reconciliation and peacebuilding will require local actors to reclaim Libya’s digital spaces.
Russian Disinformation Campaigns Target Africa:
An Interview with Dr. Shelby Grossman
The growing sophistication of Russia’s disinformation campaigns in Africa demand greater vigilance from tech companies, internet watchdog groups, and governments.