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LISTEN: The African Union’s twentieth anniversary: a stock-take

In a recent episode of IGD Strategic Dialogue with guest Carien du Plessis, we take stock of wins and stumbles in the AU’s twenty-year history, we gauge what is likely to dominate the agenda, and perhaps what is likely to be kept on the back burner, or at least where we will see slow progress.

Click to listen...             #AU #AfricanUnion...

Charting a path towards a prosperous Zimbabwe: What role for South Africa and SADC?

Following SADC's pledge of solidarity and efforts towards the lifting of remaining sanctions on Zimbabwe, the following dialogue examines practical steps towards a normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and some of its partners in Europe and the United States. Watch recording.

South Africa in the World: Investment and foreign policy objectives, are they fit for purpose?

Reflecting on 2021's investment trajectories and foreign policy, the IGD hosted, with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, a public dialogue as part of its flagship project South Africa in the World. Click to watch.

O.R. Tambo's Legacy of ANC Internationalism

Webinar Recording - ANC International Relations Dialogue Series
The following dialogue series seeks to analyse the historical and contemporary role of the African National Congress (ANC) in international relations. The ANC reached 25 years in government in 2019, which prompted the International Relations Sub-Committee of the ANC to reflect on this period and its role... Watch recording

Video: South Africa in the World, 2021: Statecraft in African Affairs

South Africa must undergo domestic reforms in order to reposition itself on the African continent and beyond. Failure to adequately address domestic challenges and to build the requisite capacity of the state may indeed lead to the weakening of South Africa’s role and influence in Africa and the world.

Click to watch video.

South Africa in the World 2020: Pragmatism versus Ideology

Although South Africa is hastening to pursue an ambitious foreign policy agenda, the focus on South Africa’s engagement in Africa is based on the assumption that the coronavirus pandemic has shifted all short- to medium-term contexts away from business-as-usual global engagements and zoned in on a more focused regional or continental emphasis...

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ZOONOTICA: An IGD Series on Reimagining Post-Pandemic International Relations


The international relations of the Covid-19 pandemic, with its dystopian overtones forces all of us to begin doing a rethink of the global and regional politics and economics of the world we live in and its cultural dimensions that have brought us to this point.

Join the Institute for Global Dialogue as we interrogate and dive deep into a post-pandemic terra nova, convening a diverse range of expert voices from perspectives such as contemporary politics, international relations, economics, science, ICT, culture, geopolitics, scenario planning, risk analysis and so much more.

Click here for the call for contributions.


Listen on:


Africa Update: Ethiopia - SAfm 17 July 2020

Commentaries on the GERD Nile dispute on SAfm by Faith Mabera Senior Researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue

Africa Update: Ethiopia - SAfm 23 July 2020

Commentaries on the GERD Nile dispute on SAfm by Faith Mabera Senior Researcher at the Institute for Global Dialogue


Charting a path towards a prosperous Zimbabwe: What role for South Africa and SADC?

Zoom recording from May 23, 2022 10:43

South Africa in the World: Investment and foreign policy objectives, are they fit for purpose?

The IGD hosted, with support from the FES, a public dialogue as part of its flagship project South Africa in the World.

Webinar Recording - ANC International Relations Dialogue Series

This series seeks to analyse the historical and contemporary role of the African National Congress (ANC) in international relations.

South Africa in the World 2021: Statecraft in African Affairs

The Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD) hosted its South Africa in the World public dialogue on 16 September 2021, 11:00-12:30 (SAST)

Chile’s New Constitutional Process: What Lessons from South Africa?

Webinar hosted by the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies within the Institute for Global Dialogue ...

How much has Africa been held back by illicit financial outflows?

Africa lost $836bn between 2000 and 2015 in what’s being termed ‘illicit capital flight’.

Outcomes of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly: Sanusha Naidu

The 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly's wrapped up on Tuesday. The annual general debate tackled issues such as the need for...

Sanusha Naidu discusses South Africa's approach to COVID19

Sanusha Naidu, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue, unpacks #SouthAfrica's thinking around the relaxing of #lockdown measures...

The African Response to COVID-19

Department of International Relations and Cooperation

COVID-19 and Impact on Value Chains: The Role of BRICS

Online round table “Risks to the functioning of the value chains in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic: how can the BRICS countries respond?”

Interviews from Caracas: Africa's Response to COVID-19 (Africa Month)

TeleSUR English

Post-COVID-19: Implications for International Cooperation

The world is working on mitigating the enormous challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Philani Mthembu and Sanusha Naidu sharing insights on ‘The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies’: Panel Discussion hosted by the Global Research Forum on Diapora and Transformation (GRFDT), virtual network based in Mumbai.

The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies: Panel Discussion

Dr Mthembu examined South Africa's response to the Crisis and the implications this has for the migrant community.

The Pandemic in Africa: Local and Global Strategies: Panel Discussion

Ms Naidu explored the international dimension of the Pandemic on the institutional architecture of the global multilateral system.

The expansion of AFRICOM in Africa under Obama: A Paradox?

In classic Orwellian juxtapose, Obama’s AFRICOM strategy appears to echo “War is Peace” and “Ignorance is Strength.” In his presidential campaign a few years ago, Obama personified change and hope which granted him a Nobel Peace Prize even before he had started working for world peace in earnest. Yet his message is constantly being undone.

Contrary to expectations, AFRICOM, a Europe-based military platform for advancing the US’ strategic interest in Africa, has secretly expanded its presence in Africa under the Obama presidency, notwithstanding spirited opposition from African countries opposed to militarization of African affairs.

In 2008, no African country would host US troops, yet 30 months after becoming an independent command, AFRICOM has used other surreptitious ways of marking its presence, principally through the consolidation of military-to-military relations with 51 African nations. Changes in government in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya have added two more countries to that column. US troops now have bases in Djibouti, Senegal and Uganda. A US military base in Botswana remains a rumour, yet military relations between the two countries have grown significantly.


AFRICOM’s expansion has not attracted much opposition or debate amongst African states, including South Africa, Africa’s hegemon. This is partly because while Africa has been posed to oppose the establishment of military bases on African soil, they have not realized that sensing this opposition, the US has decided to infuse its presence in more subtle ways. The US is pursuing military cooperation where the US is given major influence on military policies and even operations in return for modest military aid. We, of course, now know that the US did not need a military base in Egypt to control what happened in that country under Hosni Mubarak, but they used military aid and cooperation.

South Africa and the AU are constantly stressing the need for a new and fair multi-polar world yet indecisive action and poor leadership will allow AFRICOM to flourish. During NATO’s campaign in Libya in which AFRICOM participated, AU Chairman Teodoro Obiang Nguema stated “Africa does not need any external influence. Africa must manage its own affairs.” (note 1) The rhetoric - not followed by concrete action to regain control of the situation - did not end the campaign.

According to the chief architect of AFRICOM, General James Jones, ‘Officials at US European Command spent between 65 to 70 percent of their time on African issues...establishing such a group (AFRICOM) would also send a message to US companies that investing in many parts of Africa is a good idea.’ (note 2) This systematic intrusion into Africa using non-military elements of the AFRICOM and military aid sheds light onto recent events in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Nigeria.

In November 2007, U.S.S. Fort McHenry amphibious assault ship began a six-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. The ship stopped in 11 ports, namely; Angola, Benin, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo. In 2009, AFRICOM held a military exercise with eight West African states excluding Côte d’Ivoire. Since France destroyed the entire Ivorian air force in 2004, Cote d’Ivoire under Laurent Gbagbo opposed any interaction with the Western military apparatus. The ‘disputed’ elections of 2010 and the civil war that followed ‘invited’ the West into Côte d’Ivoire to fuel the civil war in order to remove Gbagbo and install Allasane Ouattara. Côte d’Ivoire has now positioned itself within the sphere of AFRICOM. In September 2011, chief of the AFRICOM, Gen. Carter F. Ham lunched with high ranking Ivorian officers and France’s ambassador to the Côte d’Ivoire during a two day visit. (note 3)

While it was suspected that AFRICOM was involved in the NATO campaign in support of the National Transitional Council to bring down the regime of Muammar Qadaffi in Libya, evidence of this was hard to find. This was so until AFRICOM released a statement which read: ‘AFRICOM stopped the advance of the Libyan Army on defenseless civilians in Benghazi, put into place a no-fly zone over Libya, and established a sea embargo against the Gadhafi regime.’ AFRICOM’s blatant arming of one side in the civil war leading to the assassination of Qadaffi has not attracted any condemnation from the AU or the West. This is yet another indication of the extent to which the US agenda of militarizing African affairs has continued without any dialogue or protest from Africans who are still poised only to oppose new US military bases in Africa.

As part of AFRICOM’s intention to counter ‘violent extremism’ through military and public diplomacy efforts under the guise of humanitarian assistance, it has become more and more involved in Nigeria given the flare up of religious extremism in the north of the country. (note 4) Indeed some press reports suggest that the AFRICOM has been ready to assist Nigeria fight the Boko Haram extremists through military advisors and humanitarian intervention. In James Cameron’s film Avatar based in the future, a veteran American Colonel showing off his war scars says he got them in his “tours in Nigeria and Venezuela.” Will the fictional Colonel turn into real ones? With the Boko Haram wreaking havoc throughout northern Nigeria and seemingly untouchable, the possibility that the military will have to step in to ‘save the nation’ is high. History will always repeat itself. Nigerian military dictatorships have always worked better with American big business.

I do not want to be understood to be arguing against all forms of military cooperation between the West and Africa. There is scope for cooperation to buttress Africa’s weak regional security capacity as seems to be the case in East Africa where AFRICOM’s geographical-positioning technology has helped Uganda fight the Lord’s Resistance Army. This may help end the northern Uganda conflict and shift the focus of government from conflict to development. But the manner in which the US is going about circumventing African opposition to militarization of African affairs is worrying. Instead of engaging the AU and developing a win-win solution, it decides to pursue its interests surreptitiously. African countries should also change their approach to this subject by watching non-military subversive AFRICOM and by engaging in a strategic dialogue with the world’s biggest military power towards a win-win solution. It is sad that in spite of all the rhetoric and inspirational talk, Obama has failed to lead a change of approach towards a consensus-led deal on AFRICOM.




Note 1 Rozoff, Rick, (2011), ‘From Ivory Coast to Libya and Beyond: Africa Threatened With Western Military Subjugation.’ April 8, 2011,

Note 2 Rozoff, Rick, (2009), ‘AFRICOM: Pentagon’s First Direct Military Intervention In Africa,

Note 3 (2011)  ‘AFRICOM chief visits Ivory Coast’,

Note 4 Bowie, Nile, January 6th, 2012, ‘The IMF and US African Command (AFRICOM) Join Hands in the Plunder of the African Continent’ context=va&aid=28520


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