Africa Program

Photo Courtesy of Glenna Gordon based in Monrovia, Liberia

The core mission of the CSIS Africa Program is to conduct sustained and timely research and analysis on the major elements of U.S. policy toward Africa, with the aim of substantially shaping discourse in Congress, the executive branch, and among the broader policymaking community. The program also provides a platform to African opinion leaders and seeks to integrate African perspectives into the Washington policy dialogue.

Recent Highlights

Separating myth from reality: Can we learn anything from terrorist propaganda videos?

Richard Downie authors a Critical Questions on the evolving use of communications technology by Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab and why widespread media coverage of their propaganda videos can exaggerate the threat these groups pose to the U.S.

Audio: Boko Haram: The View From the Ground

This episode of The CSIS Podcast features Jennifer Cooke and Richard Downie, reporting from Nigeria's capital, as they discuss the country's struggles with containing Boko Haram and its upcoming presidential election.

Audio: The Backstory on Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Girls

As part of the CSIS “Smart Women, Smart Power” speaker series, Jennifer Cooke talked to Nina Easton about the rise of Boko Haram, the kidnapped girls and the Nigerian government’s failure to rescue them, and the implications of the upcoming presidential election.

Background to Nigeria's 2015 ElectionsBackground to Nigeria’s 2015 Elections

The national elections in Nigeria, scheduled for February 2015, come at a critical point in the country’s history. The vote carries high stakes for governance, security, and the economy and will have ramifications for Africa as a whole. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country, with an estimated 170 million inhabitants, and its largest economy, with a 2013 GDP of $509 billion. This election primer provides an overview of Nigeria’s political history, major parties and candidates, and electoral process and outlines what is at stake and what will decide the upcoming elections.

Countdown to Nigeria's ElectionsCountdown to Nigeria's Elections: Minimizing the Dangers

Elections have always been high-stakes affairs in Nigeria, but the buildup to the 2015 elections has been accompanied by unprecedented levels of tension and anxiety. Two closely matched parties—the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) led by General Muhammadu Buhari—appear confident of securing victory. Inflammatory rhetoric and violence have already marred the campaign period, and a six-week postponement of the polls, ostensibly to better secure the country’s North East against the predations of Boko Haram, has deepened the opposition’s distrust in the integrity of the process. It is still possible for Nigeria to build upon the democratic progress made in 2011, but in order to do so, all the main stakeholders must perform with diligence, professionalism, integrity, and—above all—respect for the process and Nigeria’s democratic future.

Latest media clips

Voice of America (article): On Nigeria's new Russian arms deal and what it means for the country's relationship with the US
Jennifer Cooke

Vice (article): On Kenya, al-Shabaab, and the threat of war
Richard Downie

Reuters (article): On Burkina Faso and Africa's potential for a "Black Spring"
Jennifer Cooke

Current Projects and Focus Areas


  • Photo courtesy of wikipedia

    Supported by the Ford Foundation, the series will bring Nigerian officials, civil society activists, and opinion leaders to Washington, D.C. to engage with U.S. policymakers and Africa experts on how best to ensure that Nigeria's upcoming elections are peaceful, credible, and free.

  • photo courtesy of Kipp Johns

    Supported by Luce Foundation, this project examines the ways in which the religious and political spheres intersect in African contexts.

  • photo courtesy of wikipedia

    The CSIS Africa Program is undertaking four high-level Africa Energy Forums to examine new energy trends in Africa.

  • photo courtesy of DFID

    The Resilient Africa Network (RAN) is a partnership with Makerere University, Tulane University, and Stanford University focusing on identifying and supporting sources of resilience in various African communities.

  • photo courtesy of Ossy - traffic jam Im in - luanda, angola nov. 2008

    Current areas of focus of the CSIS Africa Program

  • Completed projects, past events, and publications from the CSIS Africa Program

Media Requests