By Peter Dorrie
With the exception of Syria, African countries currently get the worst rep when it comes to violence and conflict. Virtually every story coming out of the continent seems to showcase one atrocity or another.
This narrative is both true and false. In 2014, Africa experienced more than half of worldwide conflict incidents, despite having only about 16 percent of the world population. This is a slightly larger share of the world’s conflicts than even during the chaotic years of the post-Cold War 1990s.
But there are two important caveats. One, the absolute number of conflicts worldwide has greatly decreased over the last two decades. So despite shouldering a larger share of the conflict burden, in absolute terms, Africa has become more peaceful as well. And secondly, the remaining conflicts seem to cluster in specific regions and involve only a few of Africa’s 54 nation-states.
According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, 12 African countries experienced armed conflict in 2014. Three additional countries — Burundi, Niger and Chad — will likely be added to the list for the 2015 data.
Geographically Africa’s conflicts are tightly clustered along an arc stretching from northern Mali through southern Algeria and Libya into Egypt, extending into the Sinai peninsula.
The Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria is another epicenter and situated in relative proximity to an area of conflict hot spots in the Central African Republic, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, South Sudan and Darfur.
On Africa’s eastern coast, the Somali civil war is still going strong in its third decade.
Modern conflicts in Africa are thus highly localized, and they defy simplistic explanations based on stereotypes. That being said, these are our predictions for Africa’s conflicts in 2016.
If you have not already watched it, Vice News has an excellent 30 minute Documentary on Boko Haram
Read the Remainder at War is Boring