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African nations have rarely been perceived as essential partners in the pursuit of US national security and economic interests, but a re-assessment of Africa’s strategic importance is past due.

Transnational threats emanating from the continent continue to evolve, and trade and investment relationships have deepened. A better and broader understanding of the threats and opportunities posed by the countries of Africa is urgently needed, both to strengthen United States-Africa bilateral relations and to create a coherent regional policy.


Eritrea has long been stigmatized as a regional “spoiler” by Washington, and despite little evidence of wrongdoing, the country remains under Security Council sanctions for supporting terrorist groups in Somalia.

Now is the time to rethink that relationship, argues Atlantic Council Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton in a new issue brief entitled "Eritrea: Coming in from the Cold." In the brief, Bruton traces the contours of the US-Eritrean relationship since the country’s independence in 1991, before making the case that a number of recent, surprising developments in the country illustrate its determination to constructively reengage with the international community. 
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Eritrea is often in the news for all the wrong reasons: its high rates of migration to Europe (it has sent more refugees to Europe in recent years than any other African nation), its conflicts with neighboring Ethiopia and Djibouti, and controversy over its mandatory and indefinite national service conscription program. Human rights activists, in particular, have long singled out the country for criticism, calling it “the North Korea of Africa.” The inappropriateness of that comparison is increasingly recognized—but misunderstandings about the nature of the Eritrean regime continue to abound... READ FULL ANALYSIS ONLINE


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Africa’s story is increasingly one of economic dynamism that is driven, in part, by political reform and improvements in governance. But, there are also very real security, humanitarian, and developmental challenges that remain to be confronted. The United States has a stake in helping to tackle these challenges, not least because it is in its own national interest to do so.
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Across Africa, leaders are tinkering with term limits and prolonging their tenures. In an increasingly unstable Central African region, Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), appears poised to be the next African leader to sidestep the relinquishing of power and the election of his successor, constitutionally mandated for November 2016. A new Atlantic Council study by Dr. Pierre Englebert, "Congo Blues: Scoring Kabila’s Rule," examines Kabila’s leadership of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest country and traces the contours of the ineptitude, massive corruption, and frequent resort to violence in the face of criticism that characterize his decade and a half in power.


In January 2016, oil prices fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade. Meanwhile, China, the world’s second-largest economy, is experiencing its most sluggish growth in a quarter-century—dragging down commodity prices and dampening the global economic outlook. The effects of this broad slowdown will hurt African economies more than most, because China and other emerging markets are not only primary consumers of African commodities, but also are the primary source of financing for the major infrastructure and other development projects that are essential to Africa’s future growth.


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With a population of almost 80 million people and unparalleled natural resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the DRC or the Congo) is a country of tremendous potential—but only that. One of the most violent places on earth, its people suffer from the brutality of armed groups and political instability. Now, President Joseph Kabila’s steadfast refusal to move forward with constitutionally required elections in 2016 is a worrying indicator that new waves of violence may not be far off.

Atlantic Council Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham authored an article published in the current issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs entitled “How Boko Haram Became the Islamic State’s West Africa Province.”
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As oil prices fall to their lowest in decades, Nigeria's oil revenue has plummeted nearly $2 billion since the start of 2014. While Africa's most populous nation has continued to sell roughly 1 million barrels of crude oil per day, it has struggled to achieve a robust price. Brent crude—the benchmark against which Nigerian oil is priced—traded last week below $35 a barrel, the lowest price in more than a decade and considerably down from the $100 or higher that oil commanded between 2011 and 2014.

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As World Trade Organization members meet in Nairobi, Kenya, for their 2015 Ministerial, the potential economic impact of African trade—for Africa, but also the rest of the world—has never been more relevant. Home to thirty-three of the world's least developed countries and only responsible for 3 percent of global trade, Africa stands to reap enormous benefit from investing in trade as a vehicle for economic development and growth.