The African Studies Program sponsors a regular seminar series and annual conferences covering a wide range of topics on Africa. Our conference page contains announcements of future events, along with overviews and material from previous meetings. Events are listed below.


Recent Events

FALL 2017

“Why Are Africa’s Conflicts Sometimes Ethnic and Sometimes Religious?”
John McCauley, Associate Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“Political Crisis in DRC: The Way Forward”
M. Felix Tshisekedi, DRC opposition leader “Rassemblement des Forces Politiques et Sociale”
Monday, September 25, 2017

“South Africa and the Growing Power of the Race Lobby”
Gwen Ngwenya, Chief Operating Officer at the South African Institute of Race Relation
Tuesday, September 25, 2017



“How to Transcend Stalemate and Stagnation in South Africa: State Capture vs White Monopoly Capital”
Phillip van Niekerk, Calabar Africa
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

“Party Politics and the 2017 General Election in Kenya”
Ken Opalo, Georgetown University
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

“The Challenge of Security and Development in Africa”
Vice Admiral Michael T. Franken, AFRICOM
Monday, February 27, 2017

“Does Democracy Reduce Ethnic Favoritism in Africa?”
Jeremy Horowitz, Dartmouth
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

“East Africa Oil & Gas: Has It Gone Bust Before the Boom?”
SAIS African Studies and OXFAM Conference
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Mozambique Secret Debt Crisis: What’s Next?”
SAIS African Studies Conference
Wednesday, March 29

“The Political Economy of Gender and Women’s Empowerment in Africa”
SAIS African Studies Conference
Friday, April 14, 2017

“Jihadism in the North, Islamism in the South: The New Dynamics of Islamic Activism in Mali”
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, University of Florida
Wednesday, April 26, 2017


January 13, 2016
Trade Africa: Plenary Meeting
Deputy Assistant Administrator Oren Whyche-Shaw, Trade Africa
Scott Miller, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Gary Hufbauer, The Peterson Institute for International Economics
Paul Brenton, World Bank
DAA Oren Whyche-Shaw, Trade Africa Coordinator
Adam Hemphill, Walmart
Paul Delaney, Kyle House Group, VFH Consultant
Steve Lamar, Vice President, AAFA

February 5, 2016
“Lived Poverty Declines in Africa: Is it Better Growth or Better Roads?” 
Robert Mattes, University of Cape Town
Boniface Dulani, University of Malawi
E. Gyimah-Boadi, Center for Democratic Development, Ghana

February 10, 2016
“Inequality, Citizenship and Spatial Dynamics in South African Cities: A Comparative Perspective with Brazil and India”
Patrick Heller, Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences, Brown University

February 17, 2016
“Explaining Joseph Kabila’s Reluctance to Leave Office”
Professor Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

February 19, 2016
Book Launch: “How South Africa Works and Must Do Better”
Dr. Jeffery Herbst, President and CEO, The Newseum
Dr. Greg Mills, Director Brenthurst Foundation, Johannesburg
Ambassador Donald Gips, (South Africa, 2009-2013)

March 23, 2016
“Mechanisms of Predation: How the Congolese Regime Bypasses Transparency and Accountability”
Pierre Englebert, Pomona College
12:30-1:45 PM
Bernstein-Offit Building, 1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Room 736

April 7 and 8, 2016
Conference: “Strategies for Economic Reconstruction in the Northern States of Nigeria”
9:00am – 5:30pm
Bernstein-Offit Building, 1717 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Room 500

The nineteen northern states of Nigeria constitute approximately 73 percent of Nigeria’s territory and nearly 60 percent of its population. Numbering over 100 million, the UN predicts that, by 2050, the northern states will increase to 240 million, mostly youthful, residents. Comparatively, the northern states rank lower on all development indices because they face staggering developmental challenges: rising population pressure, ecological degradation, widespread poverty, declining per capita incomes, fragile infrastructures, economic stagnation, and most importantly, accelerating levels of youth unemployment. These deficits mean the Nigerian nation cannot prosper unless all youths are integrated into Nigeria’s prosperity. Indeed tolerating regional polarization is neither a realistic nor secure option. The scale and complexity of the challenges facing the northern states mean no miraculous solutions, no quick fix, is realistic. Instead, difficult policy decisions will have to be made about the allocation of scarce resources. Conference participants also realize that realistic policy solutions will demand prodigious efforts from northern as well as from national and international communities. Yet, the participants share a deep commitment to directly confront these challenges by engaging in candid conversations about how to design realistic strategies to spearhead higher productivity and employment in the northern states. Ultimately, the Conference’s goal is to facilitate sustainable and accountable public and private policies that will begin to provide dignified livelihoods for northern youth. This event is the first of what the Conference organizers hope will be an ongoing series of conversations aimed at promoting realistic strategies for boosting youth employment in northern states.

Conference Agenda

FALL 2015

September 16, 2015
“The Pivotal Presidential Election in Cote d’Ivoire: Greater Reconciliation or the Risk of War?”
Patrick Anderson Zadi Zadi, Groningen University

October 7, 2015
“Social Conflict and Cattle Rustling in Africa: Understanding the New Pastoral Economy”
Mike Jobbins, Director, Global Affairs and Partnership, Search for Common Ground

October 7, 2015
“Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong”
Morten Jerven, Simon Fraser University

October 21, 2015
“Promoting ‘Tolerant’ Islam in Africa: Morocco’s Recent Outreach Initiative”
Professor Ann Wainscott, Saint Louis University

October 29, 2015
“Will Africa Feed China?”
Book Launch with Professor Deborah Brautigam, SAIS International Development Program
Moderated by Professor David Lampton, SAIS China Studies Program
Dr. Amadou Sy, Director of the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution
Professor Ling Chen, Assistant Professor of International Political Economy

November 4, 2015
“Democracy and the Challenge of Political Change in Nigeria”
Dr. Usman Bugaje, Convener of Arewa Research and Development Project

November 9, 2015
“How to Make Government Work for Africa”
Nick Thompson, CEO of the African Governance Initiative

November 11, 2015
“Can South Africa’s Decline be Reversed?”
Jeffery Herbst, President and Chief Executive Officer, NEWSEUM

November 18, 2015
“Internationally Assisted Elections: The Impact on Transitional Countries—Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Congo”
Arsène Brice Bado, University of Laval and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

December 2, 2015
“From Claimed Victories to a Long War: French Security Policy in the Sahel”
Dr. Roland Marchal, Senior Research Fellow, National Center for Scientific Research


February 4, 2015:
“Citizen Education after Political Transition: Experiences from Kenya and Ethiopia”
Lahra Smith, Georgetown University

February 12, 2015:
DR Congo Telema Democracy Protest: The Road to the 2016 election
Franck Diongo, Member of Parliament, MLP; Martin Fayulu, Member of Parliament, ECiDé;

March 4, 2015:
“How Education Reduces Political Participation under Electoral Authoritarianism: Evidence from Zimbabwe”
Kevin Croke, SAIS Alum 2011, Harvard School of Public Health

March 25, 2015:
“Urbanization and Ethnicity in Botswana”
Elliott Green, London School of Economics

April 14, 2015:
“Angola Since the Civil War: Reconstruction and Illiberal State-Building”
Ricard Soares de Oliveira, Oxford University

April 21, 2015:
“Making Sense of China’s Rush Into Africa”
Howard French, Columbia University

FALL 2014

September 18, 2014:
“Voices Unheard? Rising Demand for Democracy in Africa”
Carolyn Logan, Michigan State University
Click for event video

September 24, 2014:
“The Role of Political Parties in an Emerging Democracy: A Nigerian Perspective”
Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila
Click for event video

September 25, 2014:
“Peace Land: Conflict Resolution and the Everyday Politics of International Intervention”
Séverine Autesserre, Columbia University
Click for event video

October 8, 2014:
“Loot, Pillage, and Plunder: Prosecuting Economic War Crimes in the 21st Century”
Panel Discussion
Click for event video

October 29:
“Election Violence in Democratizing States: Africa in Comparative Perspective”
Leonardo Arriola, University of California, Berkeley
Click for event video

November 17:
“Comparing Contemporary Malawi and Zambia”
Boniface Dulani, University of Malawi at the Department of Political & Administrative Studies
Kim Yi Dionne, Smith College at the Department of Government

December 3:
“Ebola: The Intersection of Cultural, Historical and Political Dynamics in West Africa”
Michael McGovern, University of Michigan
Click for event video

December 4:
“Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s Last Frontier can Prosper and Matter”
Kingsley Moghalu, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria



February 12, 2014:
“Rethinking State-Building in Muslim-Majority States: A Grounded View From Somalia”
William Reno, professor of political science and program director for the Department of African Studies, Northwestern University

February 25, 2014:
“Africa Rising: Challenges and Opportunities for Development”
Sponsored by SAIS Africa Association
Teddy Ruge. Co-founder of UMPG, Hive Colab and in Uganda
Florizelle Lizer, Asst. US Trade Representative for Africa, Professorial Lecturer at SAIS
Kalmongo Coulibaly, Economist, OPIC

March 5, 2014:
“Political Marginality in Nigeria: Exclusion, Dissent, and Election”
Adam Higazi, lecturer in African politics and history at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Cambridge
Click for event video

March 12, 2014:
“Crisis in the Horn of Africa: How Can the U.S. Support a More Stable and Secure Somalia?”
Sponsored by the SAIS Africa Association and the Alexander Hamilton Society
J. Peter Pham, Director of the Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council
Harun Maruf, senior editor and international broadcaster, Voice of America
Peter M. Lewis, SAIS African Studies, moderator

March 27, 2014:
“Youth in Burundi: Challenges and Opportunities in the Lead-up to the 2015 Elections”
Marc Sommers, African Studies Center at Boston University
Audace Machado, journalist, Voice of America
Mike Jobbins, senior program manager for Africa at Search for Common Ground

April 2, 2014: 
“Betrayed: Politics, Power, and Prosperity”
Seth Kaplan, professorial lecturer in the African Studies Program, will discuss his new book Betrayed: Politics, Power, and Prosperity.
Click for event video

April 3, 2014
“Tunisia’s Transition: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”
Nacef Belkhiria, VP, BSB Group Tunisia; member, Tunisian American Friendship Association
Click for event video

April 11, 2014:
“The 2015 Nigerian General Elections: Understanding Hopes and Fears”
Usman Bugaje, founding chairman of Network for Justice.
Click for event video

April 14, 2014: 
“Constitutional Amendment in an Emerging Democracy: The Nigerian Experience”
Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate of Nigeria.
Click for event video


FALL 2013

September 10, 2013:
“Regional Security Challenges and Nigeria’s Future”
Honorable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria
Click for event video

September 25, 2013:
“Is Democracy the Best Form of Governance in Africa?”
Sponsored by SAIS Africa Association and Afrimind
Pape Samb, President and CEO, Phelps Stokes
Amb. Dhanojok Obongo, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of South Sudan
Julius Agbor, Research Fellow, Stellenbosch University

October 2, 2013:
“Determinants of African Perceptions toward Chinese and American Engagement in Africa: A Hierarchical Approach”
Kristie Inman, CSIR, National Intelligence University
Click for event video

October 3, 2013:
“Shrinking Democratic Space Ahead of the 2015 elections: Re-engaging the International Community to Stabilize Burundi and the Region”
Frédéric Bamvuginyumvira, Vice-Chairman of FRODEBU and Former Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi (1998–2001)
Alice Nzomukunda, Chairwoman of ADR and Former Second Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi (2005–2006)
Marina Barampama, Member of UPD and Former Second Vice-President of the Republic of Burundi (2006-2007)
Alexis Sinduhije, Chairman of MSD, One of 2008 Times 100, Former Journalist, and Founder of Radio Publique Africaine (African Public Radio)
Click for event video

October 15, 2013: 
“The Struggle for Freedom in Kenya”
Raila Odinga, Former Prime Minister (2008-2013)
Republic of Kenya
Click for event video

October 16, 2013: 
“D.R. Congo: How the Kampala Talks and the Concertations Nationales Undermine the Rule of Law and Fuel Instability”
Albert Moleka, SAIS Alum ‘82
Chief of Staff, Etienne Tshisekedi

October 23, 2013:
“A Coup in Bamako: How Mali’s Government Lost and Regained Political Legitimacy, 2012 – 2013”
Dr. Bruce Whitehouse, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University

October 31, 2013:
“The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development: New Ideas, Changing Approaches”
Matt Andrews, Harvard Kennedy School

November 7, 2013:
“The African Growth Story: The GE Perspective”
Todd Johnson, SAIS Alum
General Electric Africa
Click for event video

November 18, 2013:
“’I am Here Until Development Comes’: Displacement, Demolitions and Property Rights in Urbanizing Abuja”
Carl LeVan, American University
Josiah Olubowale, University of the West Indies

November 20, 2013: 
“Inside South Africa’s Transition: Challenges of Post-Liberation Governance”
Barry Gilder, Mapungubwe Institute
Click for event video

November 25, 2013:
“Everyday Religious Encounters and Gendered Identities in Southwest Nigeria”
Dr. Insa Nolte
University of Birmingham