Seminar of the Social & Environmental Thematic Group and the Economics Thematic Group
Speaker: Serge Michailof, Associate researcher at IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques)
Discussant: Alexandre Marc, Chief Technical Specialist, Fragility, Conflict and Violence
Serge Michailof will present the updated version of his book “Africanistan: Development or Jihad” that has attracted considerable attention in France and francophone Africa. Drawing from his extensive experience in fragile and conflict-affected countries, Serge Michailof draws a parallel between the development of insecurity and progressive collapse of state control over huge areas in the Sahel since 2010, and over most of Afghanistan since 2002.
In the Sahel, insecurity is now spreading like a bushfire. As in Afghanistan, foreigners can no longer travel freely. Despite major differences in history, geography, and culture, there are fascinating similarities between the Sahel and Afghanistan: a demographic impasse, stagnating agriculture, rural misery, high unemployment, deep ethnic and religious fault lines, weak states, lack of law and order, regional instability, drug trafficking, and the spread of radical Islam. In both cases the role of the international community calls for serious review and assessment.
As stated by Paul Collier, Serge’s book is a wake-up call on the extent of risks if the security situation in the Sahel continues to deteriorate and if the same recipes that failed in Afghanistan are continued in the Sahel. Stabilizing the Sahel is possible, but not by relying on foreign troops or aid practices that have failed in fragile and conflict-affected countries. This is what Africanistan is all about.
Speaker’s Bio: Serge Michailof is associate researcher at IRIS (Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques), the leading think tank on geopolitics in Paris, and a senior fellow at the FERDI foundation (Fondation pour les Etudes et la Recherche en Développement International). He is also a board member of CIAN, the business association of French investors in Africa and of GRET, one of the leading French NGOs. He was the head of operations for the French Development Agency (AFD) until 2005, and a visiting professor at the Sorbonne and the elite Sciences Po school in Paris until recently. In the 1990s he was a senior advisor and country director at the World Bank. For the last 12 years he worked as an expert on fragile and conflict-affected countries on behalf of a diversity of international and bilateral development institutions.
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