Despite sustained economic growth, improvements in most human development indices, and the steady decline of large-scale violence, the risk of conflict in Africa persists.
Mostly internal in nature, violence and instability across the continent are closely related to poverty, weak governance, transitions from autocracy to democracy, adverse regime changes, a democratic deficit, large youthful populations lacking opportunities, a legacy of violence, and the “bad-neighborhood” effect.
In addition to these longstanding structural factors, new drivers—such as competition over scarce livelihood resources—have emerged, and the lines between criminal and political violence are becoming increasingly blurred. Contemporary conflicts are often fought on the periphery of states and feature factionalized armed insurgents with strong cross-border connections.
In this wide-ranging conversation, Jakkie Cilliers of South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies discusses a new report, The Future of Intrastate Conflict in Africa: More Violence or Greater Peace?, examining these trends in Africa.