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.


Debunking outdated notions of Africa’s secondary importance to US national security and economic prosperity, Why Africa Matters to US National Security, by Grant T. Harris, former special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council, outlines the United States’ material interests in Africa through various lenses: transnational threats, economic growth, access to natural resources, and promoting an international order that benefits the United States. The report provides an unprecedentedly comprehensive overview of Africa’s growing strategic importance to US national security interests.

This report is part of a partnership between the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center and the OCP Policy Center and is made possible by generous support through the OCP Foundation.