n Institute for Security Studies Papers - Prospects for Africa's 26 fragile countries

Volume 2013, Issue 8
  • ISSN : 1026-0404



Africa is witnessing strong and sustained high levels of economic growth and an overall reduction in conflict across the continent. New natural resource exploitation, growing urbanisation and progress in human-development goals, such as education and health, generally suggest that the African Renaissance rhetoric is being met with reality. However, some countries experiencing conflict are caught in a vicious cycle of violence, chronic poverty, inequality and exclusion from the gains of growth. These countries - which we term the 'more fragile' states - are on a much slower trajectory to long-term peace and development. This policy paper provides an overview of a longer monograph that provides long-term forecasts of fragility in Africa. Using the International Futures system (IFs) data-analysis and forecasting tool, the paper provides a long-term forecast of 26 fragile African countries. They are chosen on the basis of comparative lists of fragile countries from indicators that reflect the fragility syndrome. In conducting the forecast, the authors argue that fragility should be understood as a syndrome, or set of related conditions, that operates in a system that is mutually reinforcing. The first section presents a brief analysis that groups the drivers of fragility into four dimensions. This analysis allows us, in the following section, firstly, to identify appropriate variables for forecasting and, secondly, to use the IFs tool to undertake a dynamic forecast of potential prospects. Note that the findings presented here provide only a forecast (one of many that are possible using various data-analysis models), not a prediction - and we draw attention to the limits of such endeavours while pointing to their obvious utility for planning purposes. We provide both optimistic and pessimistic scenarios in comparison to a dynamic base-case forecast. The forecasts suggest that, in the long-term, ten countries in Africa will continue to remain fragile into the mid-21st century. Others, however, have a good chance of embarking on a pathway from fragility to middle-income-type conditions by 2030 or possibly 2050. The paper concludes with a list of recommendations, the most important of which is the need to plan in the face of continued fragility in the ten long-term fragile countries to 2050.

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