Publications

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African film, music, and fashion are exploding in popularity on the global stage. From Nigeria’s Nollywood film industry to the visual arts in South Africa, creative and cultural industries (CCI) represent a new realm of economic op­portunity. From artists to distrib­utors, Africa’s creative economy is currently estimated to employ about half a million people, generates $4.2 billion in revenue, and is growing rapidly. In order to expand Africa’s share of the $2.25 trillion global entertainment market, African governments, busi­nesses, and investors should find innovative ways of supporting, promoting, and investing in CCI.
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From cryptocurrencies to blockchain to mobile money, financial technology (“fintech”) is revolutionizing the basic structures of the global economy. Financial services delivered through fintech are becoming more accessible, efficient, and personal. In sub-Saharan Africa, where only 34 percent of adults have bank accounts, fintech companies are already providing financial products and services to millions of unbanked and underserved Africans in ways that traditional financial institutions cannot.
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Disruptive technologies—such as the Internet of Things, robotics, and three-dimensional (3D) printing—have been heralded as the future of the global manufacturing sector. However, in Africa, they could hinder industrialization and result in fewer entry points into global supply chains. While it may be possible for African nations to “leapfrog” directly to newer technologies, it is more likely that developing the relevant worker know-how, infrastructure, and corporate capabilities necessary to leverage the potential value of these technologies will be a very gradual process. African policy makers must therefore pursue multipronged strategies to ensure relevance as 3D printing and other disruptive technologies move into the mainstream.
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The third paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Soft Power, Cultural Engagement, and National Security” examines the importance of people-to-people engagement and its relevance to broader US strategic aims in Sudan.

More than two decades of isolation have succeeded in funneling Sudan’s best and brightest to seek higher education and post-graduate employment in locations other than the West. The United States has lost valuable ground to other actors, ranging from the benign to the malicious, who are influencing Sudan’s youth and wider population in ways that almost certainly will not serve US interests.
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The second paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Prospects for Economic Re-engagement” examines the possibility of a new era of US economic cooperation with Sudan, including an opportunity for the United States to push for desperately needed economic reforms as part of wider US bilateral engagements efforts.

Authored by Dr. Jeffrey Herbst in collaboration with the Council’s Sudan Task Force, the issue brief describes the political economy of Sudan, which shapes Khartoum’s priorities and affects how it will respond to demands for economic reform.
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The first paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Politics, Engagement, and Reform” examines the political landscape in the country in the wake of renewed bilateral engagement, addressing questions of governance, inclusion, and reform.

Co-authored by Ambassador Johnnie Carson and Zach Vertin in collaboration with the Council’s Sudan Task Force, the issue brief offers recommendations for continued progress toward democratic transformation in Sudan, in both the medium and long terms.
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As one of the African continent’s largest and most sophisticated economies, South Africa offers a myriad of opportunities for engagement with the United States on diplomatic, commercial, security, and social fronts. It is a self-sufficient, complex, and dynamic country in a struggling, complex, and dynamic region. Yet, the centrality of South Africa to the United States’ relationship with the wider continent is underappreciated by Washington’s policy community, which has become distracted by the displays of dysfunctionality and high-level corruption that have come to characterize South African politics. These political dramatics have knocked US relations with South Africa off track by obscuring the enduring social inequities at the heart of South Africa’s problems, both in media depictions of South Africa and in serious policy discussions.

 
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Education remains a crucial component of economic development and poverty reduction. Primary education is especially important, as it provides students with the foundational skills necessary to continue with advanced education and participate in local and global economies. Collectively, educational benefits extend beyond individuals to benefit broader communities.

 
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China’s major financial commitments to Africa, coupled with its double digit returns, have discouraged American companies from breaking into African markets. Amid growing concerns regarding China’s expanding economic influence on the continent, a reassessment of America’s business edge and overall competitiveness is past due. 

 
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For America’s consumer goods companies, the latest shifts in African consumer trends hold much promise. Africa’s population is growing at an outstanding rate and spending by consumers and businesses on the continent is forecast to grow significantly over the next decade. However, US investors often oversimplify and misunderstand African markets, which remain highly segmented, fluid, and absent of a discernible “middle.”

 


    

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