Assessing Risks to Stability in Sub-Saharan Africa

July 18, 2011, 7:41 p.m.

CSIS conducted multiple studies in response to the Arab Spring focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa to see what fault lines exist that have not been looked at before and their potential impact on stability in the region.  Prior to the public demonstrations that took place in Tunisia; the world did not anticipate the overthrow of the Tunisian government and the successive political changes that have occurred across the Arab world. In hopes to be better prepared for future events, CSIS performed 10 case studies of Sub-Saharan countries to look at the underlying social, economic and political vulnerabilities that exist there.  As the paper states, the goal is to identify “potentially catalytic events or trends and likely triggers” in the attempt to be better prepared for changes that may occur and to improve contingency plans that are in place.  This report is a summary of the 10 country reports.  By looking at the CSIS website the 10 individual reports can be found.

This study examines potential fissures and stressors that might lead in the coming decade to significant social dislocation or political instability in the 10 countries presented.  The case studies are not intended to offer hard and fast predictions about the future. Each sketches out potential scenarios for the next 10 years, but the purpose of these scenarios is to illustrate how different dynamics and underlying vulnerabilities might converge to create the conditions for instability. Few, if any, of the countries in this series are at imminent risk of breakdown.  All of them have coping mechanisms that militate against conflict, and discussions of potential “worst-case scenarios” have to be viewed with this qualification in mind.

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