Thu, May 25, 2017

Why Africa matters to US national security

Report by Grant T. Harris

Africa Climate Change & Climate Action Corruption Democratic Transitions East Africa Economy & Business Elections English Entrepreneurship Extremism General Africa Human Rights International Markets Macroeconomics North & West Africa Oil and Gas Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Political Reform Renewables & Advanced Energy Rule of Law Security & Defense South & Central Africa Trade

Malian, US, and European Special Operations Forces train as part of Exercise Flintlock, an annual US Africa Command-sponsored exercise that included over two thousand military personnel from twentyfour countries in 2017. Flintlock is designed to increase regional cooperation and build partner capacity to protect civilians and reduce sanctuary for violent extremist organizations in North and West Africa. Photo credit: US Air Force Technical Sergeant Marelise Wood, Flintlock Public Affairs.

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Debunking outdated notions of Africa’s secondary importance to US national security and economic prosperity, Why Africa Matters to US National Security, by Grant T. Harris,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.