Spotlight: Informing development planning with Africa’s most comprehensive forecasts

ISS helps governments and development organisations make better investment and planning decisions based on the continent’s growth prospects.

The African Futures and Innovation (AFI) programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) uses the International Futures forecasting platform to create scenarios covering issues from demographics and governance to water, agriculture, infrastructure, health, finance and technology.

The platform was developed by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver. Data and analysis are presented on a dedicated AFI website that examines each African country and regional economic community within the African Union’s Agenda 2063 timeframe. It models the long-term development potential of each nation to 2043, taking a geographical and sectoral approach to Africa’s development.

AFI also provides policy research and training to government and civil society. ‘African Futures is a primary provider of insights about African capabilities and potential at a critical point of the continent’s development,’ says AFI head Jakkie Cilliers. ‘We provide the data to accelerate implementation of Agenda 2063, and the tools to measure its progress.’

AFI has a memorandum of understanding with the African Union’s Development Agency, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), which is the custodian of Agenda 2063. This important partnership enables AFI to present the forecasts to African governments for validation, review and national planning.

Following the launch of AFI’s Africa in the World report, and a meeting of United States (US) and African leaders in December 2022, AFI was invited to partner with Humanity United at its African Futures Summit in Washington DC in February 2023. The event highlighted the emerging agency of African states in a shifting geopolitical world order. It was an opportunity to showcase AFI forecasting and give an African perspective on how global events impact the continent.

No other organisation makes this wealth of information available on such a user-friendly platform and at no cost

‘What is important to us is that the ISS is African, and able to bring deep insights and knowledge of the continent to political discussions in Washington,’ says Maria Kisumbi, Humanity United’s Director for Policy & Government Relations.

They bring very different perspectives to what we normally hear, and they reflect African needs and aspirations. AFI data challenges assumptions and stereotypes, provides evidence to support policy decisions, and empowers Africans to determine their own future. No other organisation makes this wealth of information available on such a user-friendly platform, and at no cost. That is why we value our partnership with the ISS.’

Among key themes in the AFI report, which was much discussed in US policy circles, was how the US can best engage with African countries. It was an important feature in a hearing by the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, looking at the implications of great power competition in Africa.

AFI’s primary focus is on Africa, but it also gave data-informed African development updates to the European Union, international organisations including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and UN Development Programme, and development agencies.

AFI has become a trusted source of political and economic insights for corporates, African governments and research organisations. In April it presented data to assist Volkswagen SA in formulating its growth strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, and in May gave the keynote address at the launch of the new Centre of Excellence for Adaptation and Resilience at the University of South Africa.

For more information, contact: 

Jakkie Cilliers, ISS: [email protected]

Image: © The Association of Commonwealth Universities

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