Non-State Actors in Sub-Saharan Africa 2007- 2012 Outlook:


Key Findings


  • What role will non-state actors (NSAs) play and what impact will NSAs have in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next five years?
    • While it may seem counter-intuitive, and notwithstanding significant variability from state to state, non-state actors (NSAs), on average, likely play a limited role in Sub-Saharan Africa, and these roles afford the NSA little to no influence and will likely continue to do so over the next five years. Additionally countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are evenly split between those where Government Sanctioned NSA Role Potentials (as utilized by NSAs like corporations, NGOs, labor unions) dominate and those where Extra-Government NSA Role Potentials (as utilized by NSAs like criminal organizations, terrorist groups) dominate and in both cases the roles played by NSAs on average in these countries are likely still minimal. However, over the next five years, countries where Government Sanctioned Role Potentials dominate are likely to see a moderate increase in the influence of lawful NSAs, while countries where Extra-Governmental NSA Role Potentials dominate are likely to see no increase in the influence of unlawful NSAs.

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  • What are the roles of these actors in key countries, such as Niger?
    • Angola, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, and South Africa are likely key Sub-Saharan countries to the United States, due to their abundant natural resources, military importance, or strategic location.
      • On average NSAs play little to no role and are likely to do so over the next five years in these key states. This finding, however, hides significant variability among the states ranging from the strong Government Sanctioned actors in South Africa, to the extremely restricted role of NSAs in Angola.

  • Are there geographic, cultural, economic or other patterns of activity along which the roles of these actors are either very different or strikingly similar?
    • There are likely three distinct geographical regions that are self-organized by the roles that NSAs play in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa.
      • Southern and Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa: This region is most likely influenced by Government Sanctioned NSAs and is likely to be increasingly influenced by these same types of NSAs in the future. Government Sanctioned NSAs are likely to increase their influence in states like Tanzania, South Africa, and Botswana, while Mozambique is likely to see the greatest change.
      • Central Sub-Saharan Africa: The roles of NSAs are likely dramatically different. Here Extra-Government NSAs predominate but their role is unlikely to change much over the next 5 years. Nearly 60% of the countries in this region will likely experience no change in the roles of NSAs over the next 5 years
      • Western Sub-Saharan Africa: NSAs likely play a wide variety of roles depending on the state. From a strong Extra-Government presence in a country like Guinea (which is likely to only grow stronger) to a moderate Government Sanctioned presence in a state like Senegal (which is also likely to grow stronger), the net effect of NSAs in the west shows no clear trends.
      • There is also some evidence that certain types of NSAs likely support each other or, at least, tend to come in groups.
        • There is a very strong correlation (.86) between the presence of NGOs and businesses (both Government Sanctioned NSAs) in a particular country. This association held true independently of the type of NSA (Government Sanctioned or Extra-Governmental) that predominated in the state.
        • Terrorist groups, on the other hand, are only weakly negatively correlated (-.1) with strong NSAs of any type anywhere in Africa, suggesting that terrorists, at least in this region, prefer countries with relatively more rather than less state control.

Process and Methodology:

In terms of analytical processes and methodologies, it is likely that using multiple methods of analysis provide the greatest amount of analytic confidence and proves highly efficient.
  • The fundamental stepping stone which made the analysis of the question possible was the development of a model which was able to account for both Government Sanctioned Role Potentials and Extra-Government Role Potentials, and thereby represent the likely role potentials of both lawful and unlawful NSAs.
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  • It is likely that two other methods, Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) and Geospatial Analysis, enabled the team to understand the NSA role potential spectrum as a local, regional, and international phenomenon, and also confirm and reinforce the initial analysis.
    • Specifically, the ACH gave the analyst confidence as to the accuracy of a specific country‚Äôs role potential score, or prompted the analyst to look at other factors that the score may not consider.
    • Geospatial Analysis confirmed geographic patterns in the four separate indices, with regards to NGOs, Businesses, and Terrorist Groups.
  • It is likely that visualization of the data allows the analyst to see patterns that are not initially apparent. It is likely that it is easier for the decision maker to understand the data upfront without needing to get in depth with the data.

Analytic Confidence: 7
Source Reliability: 8

See Also: Key Findings Brief