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African Futures Project assesses prospects for Africa's fragile countries
4 November 2013

Pretoria, South Africa – Ten African countries are expected to continue to remain fragile beyond 2050: Comoros, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Togo.

This is according to a recent paper of the African Futures Project (AFP), a joint initiative of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver. The paper, ‘Prospects for Africa’s 26 fragile states’, co-authored by Dr Jakkie Cilliers, executive director of the ISS and Professor Timothy Sisk from the University of Denver, provides long-term forecasts of fragility in Africa based on the International Futures system (IFs).

Speaking at the launch of the paper at the ISS in Pretoria on 31 October, Cilliers said that ‘by 2050, slightly more than 1 billion Africans are forecast to be living in “more fragile” countries’. This is in spite of the overall trend of strong and sustained economic growth and the overall reduction in conflict witnessed across the continent. On the other hand, Cilliers acknowledged that ‘if improvements towards greater resilience materialise, this number could be reduced to 372 million people by 2050’.

In the paper, 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. Cilliers explained that the drivers of fragility can be grouped into four different dimensions, namely ‘poor or weak governance; high levels of conflict and violence; high levels of inequality and economic exclusion; and poverty’.

‘External stakeholders should set up a long-term fragility facility with a 20-year horizon to support the 10 long-term fragile countries’, underlined Cilliers. Other key recommendations that emerged from the research include going beyond traditional analysis, using cash grants to address chronic poverty, as well as promoting futures analysis when thinking about how to engage best with fragile states.

Cilliers noted that the forecasts based on IFs are not predictions but highly contingent scenarios. IFs is a large-scale integrated global modeling system that serves as a thinking tool for the analysis of long-term country-specific, regional, and global futures across multiple, interacting issue areas.

‘This research on fragility speaks directly to the ongoing debate how external interventions can make positive contributions to state-building processes in fragile and conflict-affected countries’, noted ISS senior researcher Dr Julia Schünemann who chaired the event.

The paper is based on a technical report commissioned for the African Development Bank’s newly established High Level Panel for Fragile States. A monograph on the topic will be released by the ISS at the beginning of December.


About the Institute for Security Studies

The ISS is an African organisation which aims to enhance human security on the continent. It does independent and authoritative research, provides expert policy analysis and advice, and delivers practical training and technical assistance.