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Africa Research Group


We host regular public lectures, book-launches and seminars featuring leading academics and experts. These are free and available to everyone, typically held on the Strand Campus of King's College London.


For the latest Africa Research Group events, please check the War Studies Events listings.

If you would like to join our mailing list and receive advanced information about forthcoming events, publications and other items of interest, please subscribe to our mailing list via the registration form. 

You can also follow Group news and upcoming events on Twitter @AfricaKCL and Facebook.


 (our events schedule is being updated and will be listed shortly)


24-25 January 2018
King's Engaged in Africa 2018: Security & Development

Organised by the Africa Research Group (War Studies, KCL) and the African Leadership Centre (ALC), with support from the School of Security Studies, the Department of War Studies, and King's Worldwide.

Wednesday 24th January - Reception:

18:00 - 18:15  Welcome by Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin, Vice Principal International and Founding-Director of the African Leadership Centre

18:15 - 18:45  Opening Keynote Speech on Governing Precarity: Human Security, Development and the Politics of Life in Africa by Professor Wale Adebanwi, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, University of Oxford

18:45 - 21:30  Drinks reception & exhibition of select work from the 2014 Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now exhibition, curated by Dr Zoe Norridge, Senior Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature (KCL), and Dr Mark Sealy MBE (Autograph ABP). Originally supported by the Cultural Institute at King’s and the AHRC.

Thursday 25th January - Conference: 

09:15 - 09:30  Welcome by Professor Abiodun Alao, Chair, King’s Africa Community of Practice, Professor of African Studies

09:30 - 11:00   Panel 1: Emerging Security and Development Issues

11:00 - 11:30   Tea and Coffee

11:30 - 13:00   Panel 2: Conflict, Security and Peacebuilding

13:00 - 14:00   Break for lunch

14:30 - 15:45  Panel 3: Health and Development

15:45 - 17:15  Panel 4: Emerging Economies and Africa

17:15 - 17:30  Closing Remarks by Professor Jack Spence OBE, Department of War Studies and Africa Research Group.

The Panels and Speakers:

Panel 1: Emerging Security and Development Issues 

Chair: Professor Mats Berdal, Professor in Security and Development, War Studies, KCL

  • Youth, Violence, and Urban Security in 21st Century Africa 
    Dr Kieran Mitton, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Co-Chair of the Africa Research Group, KCL
  • Maritime Insecurity in West Africa as a Human Security Concern: Evidence from the Niger Delta area of Nigeria 
    Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood, PhD Candidate/Graduate Teaching Assistant, KCL
  • Beyond the Ballot: Protests and Political Change in Africa 
    Dr Awino Okech, Lecturer, Centre for Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, and Visiting Research Fellow, KCL

Panel 2: Conflict, Security and Peacebuilding
Chair: Dr Flavia Gasbarri, War Studies & Co-Chair of the Africa Research Group, KCL

  • The leadership factor in peacebuilding 
    Professor 'Funmi Olonisakin, Vice Principal International and Founding-Director of the African Leadership Centre
  • 'A Clear Road Ahead'; Humanitarian Mine Clearance and Peacebuilding
    Dr Sarah Njeri, Research Associate, KCL
    Panos Farantatos, R&D Engineer, Department of Informatics and Robotics, KCL
  • Expressions of Justice in post-genocide Rwanda
    Dr Nicola Palmer, Senior Lecturer in Criminal Law, Dickson Poon School of Law, KCL
  • The Politics of Youth Citizenship: From Participation to Radicalisation? The Case of youth in ‘post-revolutionary’ Egypt 
    Dr Solava Ibrahim, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Anglia Ruskin University & Affiliated Lecturer at the Centre of Development Studies, Cambridge University. 

Panel 3: Health and Development
Chair: Dr Andy Leather, Director of the King's Centre for Global Health & King's Health Partners

  • Improving physical health in HIV through targeting mental health 
    Dr Melanie Abas, Reader in Global Mental Health, Deputy Director of Centre for Global Mental Health
  • The Social Lives of RDTs: What role do point of care diagnostics play in transforming global health?
    Dr Ann H. Kelly, Senior Lecturer in Global Health & Deputy Director of the MSc in Global Health & Social Justice, KCL
  • KCL Global Mental Health partnerships in Africa: Experiences from PRIME, AFFIRM and Emerald
    Prof Crick Lund, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town & Institute of Psychiatry, KCL (live from Cape Town, South Africa)
  • King’s Global Health Partnerships: strengthening health systems in Somaliland, Sierra Leone and DRC
    Dr Oliver Johnson, King’s Centre for Global Health & Health Partnerships, KCL (live from Johannesburg, South Africa) 

Panel 4: Emerging Economies and Africa
Chair: Dr Roberta Comunian, Reader in Creative Economies, KCL 

  • Emerging powers, Ethiopia and the Horn 
    Professor Medhane Tadesse, Centre for Policy Research and Dialogue, Addis Ababa, Former Senior Security Sector Adviser to the African Union
  • Brazil as an Emerging Partner in Peace and Security in Africa: looking at Guinea-Bissau 
    Nayanka Perdigao, PhD Candidate/Head of Fellowships, African Leadership Centre, KCL
  • Nodal Entities and the Undergrowth of Emerging Economies in Africa: the case of West Africa 
    Dr ‘Wale Ismail, Head of Research, African Leadership Centre, KCL
  • The Chinese Model and Africa: seeking an alternative development path 
    Professor Chris Alden, Professor of International Relations and Co-Head of the Africa International Affairs programme, London School of Economics and Political Science and Visiting Senior Associate, KCL

Past Events



10 March 2016 (17:30-19:00)

Book launch: Africa's Long Road Since Independence: The Many Histories of a Continent

Speaker: Keith Somerville, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London.

Chair: Emelie Poignant Khafagi, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.


26 February 2016 (18:00-19:30)
Book Launch: 'Eat the Heart of the Infidel' - The Harrowing of Nigeria and the Rise of Boko Haram

Speaker: Andrew Walker, Author of  ‘Eat the Heart of the Infidel’ - The Harrowing of Nigeria and the Rise of Boko Haram.

Discussant: Dr Vincent Hiribarren, Lecturer in Modern African History, King's College London.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile. 


19 February 2016 (18:00-19:30)
China's "New Normal", Commodity Prices and Africa

Speaker: Ian Taylor, Professor in International Relations and African Political Economy, University of St Andrews.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.

16 February 2016 (18:00-19:30)
Jihad in East Africa: Recruitment in Kenya & the Struggle Between ISIS & al-Shabaab

Speaker: Dr Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, Lecturer in War Studies, King's College London & Head of Research at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR).

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.

3 February 2016 (18:00-19:30)

South Africa: Future Imperfect

Speaker: Professor Jack Spence, OBE, War Studies, Africa Research Group.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.


25 January 2016 (18:00-20:00)

Destabilising Defence: How Corruption Undermines Security Across Africa


  • Dylan Hendrickson, Senior Fellow, Conflict Security & Development Research Group, Department of War Studies, King’s College London.
  • Gladwell Otieno, Vice-Chairperson of the African Leadership Centre and former director of Transparency International-Kenya.
  • Gavin Raymond, Training and Capacity Building Lead, Transparency International.

Chair:    Dr Alex Vines OBE, Chatham House, Africa Programme Head.

Co-hosted by the Africa Research Group, African Leadership Centre and Transparency International UK (Defence and Security Progamme).

Full event description and speaker profiles.
Post-talk interview

PODCAST - listen to our full recording of the panel.


20 January 2016(18:00-19:30)

Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War

Speaker: Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Associate Professor in Comparative Politics (African Politics) at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.
Post-talk interview


8 December 2015 (18:00-19:30)

Professional Military Education (PME) in Nigeria

A joint event with the African Leadership Centre.

Speaker: Major General Idris.

Chair: Dr Akali Omeni, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile.


8 December 2015 (13:30-15:00)

Contesting Hydrohegemony: Megadams and the Nile Basin

Speaker: Frezer G. Haile, Phd Candidate, Department of Geography, KCL.

Chair: Emelie Poignant Khafagi, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile


24 November 2015 (17:00-19:00)
War, Exile & the First Arab Spring: Western Sahara 1975-2015

Speaker: Dr Pablo de Orellana, War Studies, KCL.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton, Africa Research Group.

Full event description and speaker profile

Post-talk interview

PODCAST - listen to our full recording of the talk.

17 November 2015 (17:30-19:00)
Frustrated Youth and Failed Democracy: The Dynamics of Wellbeing, Aspirations and Politics in Egypt

Location: War Studies Meeting Room (K6.07), Strand Campus.
Registration URL:
ibrahimSpeaker: Dr Solava Ibrahim, Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester

Chair: Emelie Poignant Khafagi, Africa Research Group.

What is the impact of the Arab Spring on Egyptian citizens? How did the uprisings affect people's aspirations and their relationship with the state? 

Full event description and speaker profile

Post-talk interview



6 November 2015 (17:30-19:00)
Book Launch and Panel: Evaluating Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone

Location: Council Room (K2.29), Strand Campus
Registration URL:

A joint event with the War Crimes Research Group.


-          Dr Kirsten Ainley (Senior Lecturer, LSE, International Relations and author of ‘Evaluating Transitional Justice’)

-          Mr Wayne Jordash QC (Doughty Street Chambers and former member of the Defence Team at the Special Court for Sierra Leone)

-          Ms Laura Martin (PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh, African Studies)

-          Dr Kieran Mitton (Lecturer, KCL, War Studies, Co-chair of the Africa Research Group)

-          Dr Rebekka Friedman (Lecturer, KCL, War Studies, Co-Convener of the War Crimes Research Group and author of ‘Evaluating Transitional Justice’)

-          Chair: Dr Rachel Kerr (Senior Lecturer, KCL, War Studies, Co-Convener of the War Crimes Research Group)

Full event details.


9 October 2015 (12:30-14:00)

What Happens After Mugabe? Inside Robert Mugabe's Succession Crisis

A joint event with the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group.

Speaker: Dr Miles Blessing Tendi, University of Oxford.

Chair: Dr Christine Cheng, War Studies, King's College London.



6 October 2015 (18:30-20:30)

Beyond Goodluck: Boko Haram's Insurgency and Security in Northeast Nigeria

A joint event with the African Leadership Centre.

Speaker Profiles:

katerobertsonKate Robertson is a Policy Analyst at RAND Europe. At RAND, she has worked extensively on research projects in the field of security and counterterrorism. Before joining RAND, Kate worked as a part-time Researcher at RUSI and completed her Master's degree in Conflict, Security and Development at KCL, where her dissertation focused on Boko Haram and the links between crime, terrorism and corruption in Nigeria.

funmilyandaFunmi Iyanda is an award-winning producer, talk show host, journalist and philanthropist. She produced and presented the hugely popular talk show, “New Dawn with Funmi”, which ran for a decade on Nigerian TV, “My country Nigeria” for the BBC and “ChopCassava”, a weblog of Nigeria's occupy protests. As a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, she was recently listed by Forbes Africa as one of the 25 most powerful women on the continent.

Elizabeth Pearson is an ESRC-funded MPhil/PhD student in Defence Studies at King’s College London, with an MA in International Conflict Studies from War Studies. She specialises in gender and radicalisation, with an interest in both Islamist and far right movements. She is also an Associate Fellow at RUSI and a member of the Nigeria Security Network. Ms Pearson has just returned from a productive fieldtrip to Nigeria.


Dr Caroline Varin is a Lecturer in Security and International Organisations at Regent's University London. Her 2014 book examines the strategic use of mercenaries by states such as Angola and the U.S. She is currently finishing her latest book, entitled 'Boko Haram and the War on Terror' (Praeger, 2016)  and recently returned from fieldwork in Nigeria.


21 May 2015 (17:00-18:30)

National Security in South Africa

A joint event with the African Leadership Centre.

Professor Sandy Africa of the University of Pretoria discusses national security in South Africa and implications for oversight of national security processes. Professor Sandy Africa is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria and Former Deputy Director-General of Corporate Services, State Security Agency, Republic of South Africa

Chair: Professor Abiodun Alao


11 March 2015 - 'Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration in South Sudan. Lessons Learned and Future Prospects.'

Lydia Stone is a conflict expert with seven years experience in South Sudan.   She has served as an advisor to the Government of South Sudan, DFID and Danida on issues of security sector reform and gender.  In addition Lydia has served as a DDR advisor to the UK’s Stabilisation Unit and has worked extensively on small arms control initiatives.  She is the author of several publications on the subjects of gender and security in South Sudan and currently works for the London-based consultancy Social Development Direct.



Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton

18 February 2015 - 'War and peace in the Central African Republic: Understanding the actors driving the conflict.'

Speakers: Sarah Covington,  IHS Country Risk – Africa and Albert Caramés Boada.



Sarah is the lead analyst on the Central African Republic for the Country Risk Team at IHS. IHS Country Risk is a specialist intelligence unit that forecasts political and violent risks worldwide. Sarah specialises in Sahelian affairs with a focus on civil conflict and terrorism. Prior to working at IHS, Sarah was sponsored by the UK Economic and Social Research Council to develop primary research into Arab governments and their relationship with armed non-state actors. Independent projects have taken her to several African and Middle Eastern countries including Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Sudan, Ethiopia and Lebanon. Sarah holds a BA in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London) and an MSc in African Studies from the University of Oxford.

Albert is an associate researcher at the Groupe de Rechercheet Information pour la Paix (GRIP). He also works closely with theInternational Catalan Institute for Peace. He has worked for the Escola deCultura de Pau (UAB), for the United Nations and for Médecins Sans Frontières,in their head offices as well as on location in Côte d’Ivoire, Congo-Brazzavilleand the Central African Republic. Albert is a PhD candidate in Peace andSecurity at the Instituto Universitario Gutiérrez Mellado.

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton

14 January 2015 - 'Climate Change and Resource Conflicts: Resilience and Capacity to Adapt to Drought in Kenya and Ethiopia.'

Dr Anja Shortland is Reader in Political Economy and Director of Postgraduate Research in the Department of Political Economy. Her current research projects are in peace science and the economics of crime.  She has published widely on the issue of maritime piracy and co-authored the 2013 World Bank Policy Report: "The Pirates of Somalia: Ending the Threat; Rebuilding a Nation."  Although largely based on data analysis, her work usually cuts across disciplinary boundaries adopting techniques and insights from sociology, engineering, geography, politics, international relations and economics. Before coming to King's she worked as a lecturer in Economics at Leicester, a Reader in Economics at Brunel University and as a consultant to the World Bank.  

Chair: Dr Kieran Mitton


29 October 2014 - 'Is South Africa's constitutional democracy being consolidated or eroded?'

Merle Lipton is Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London and serves on the Advisory Council of the Rising Powers in International Development Project at IDS/Sussex University.  She has held research and teaching posts at, inter alia, Chatham House, Stellenbosch University and the Wilson Centre in Washington DC. Her publications include Capitalism & Apartheid: South Africa, 1910-86, State and Market in Post-Apartheid South Africa (1993), The Challenge of Sanctions (LSE Cent(1993), The Challenge of Sanctions (LSE Centre for the study of South African Economy, 1990) and Liberals, Marxists & Nationalists: competing interpretations of South African History (2008). 


Chair: Dr Georgina Holmes.


12 March 2014 – ‘IGAD and crisis intervention: moving beyond potential? Regional diplomacy in Somalia and South Sudan.’ 

Jason Mosley is an Associate Fellow of the Africa Programme at Chatham House, and a Research Associate at the African Studies Centre of Oxford University. He is also Managing Editor of the Journal of Eastern African Studies. His main geographical interests are in the greater Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and Nigeria. He is interested in the politics of ethnicity, and of religion -- particularly of Islam -- in these and other areas. Jason regularly analyses the expanding economic horizons of Africa broadly speaking, and particularly in terms of the growing consumer base, and the investment opportunities outside traditional sectors of resource extraction and primary commodity production. Jason also serves on the board of Stakeholder Democracy Network, a non-profit working to bolster the capacity of communities affected by resource extraction to push for their interests in negotiation with governments and companies. 

19 Feb 2014 – ‘South Sudan: Finding the Path to Peace’ 

The Africa Research Group hosted an evening panel discussion in partnership with the Royal African Society on recent political events in South Sudan.  

Speakers: Tim Morris, UK Special Envoy to the South Sudan Peace Talks; Gonyi Ajawin, Associate, Fasken Martineau LLP; Veronique Barbelet, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute. 

Chair: Professor Jack Spence OBE, Department of War Studies, Kings College London 

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) achieved independence in 2011 under President Salva Kiir. Since secession, much of the international focus on South Sudan has been Salva Kiir’s relationship with Omar al-Bashir, border demarcation and the oil pipeline, neglecting growing internal tensions within this new state. Just two years later following President Kiir’s dismissal of this entire cabinet, a power struggle between the Kirr and his former Vice-President - Riek Machar erupted in Juba and spread throughout the country, especially in the oil regions such as Unity Sate. From 15th of December – 23 January rebels loyal to Reik Machar took up arms against the government in a conflict that has claimed an up to 10,000 lives and displaced an estimated 700,000 people. 

With a cease-fire agreed on the 23 January in Addis Ababa the prospects of securing peace are on the rise, but isolated instances of fighting between the SPLM and rebels threaten the agreement. The panel explored some of the challenges the country may come up against on its path to peace, and considered the role of South Sudan's neighbours, the wider international community and non-state actors in South Sudan. 

29 Jan 2014 – ‘The Spread of Islamist Movements Across West Africa and the Sahel.

In her current capacity as Research Associate for Transnational Threats at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Virginia Comolli has responsibility for extremism, transnational organized crime, and security threats in West Africa and the Sahel.  Previous experience includes a secondment to the British Ministry of Justice and work for a private security company and a strategic intelligence firm. 

Virginia is the co-author with Nigel Inkster of “Drugs, Insecurity and Failed States: the Problems of Prohibition” (London: Routledge, 2012) and author of a forthcoming book on Boko Haram’s insurgency in Nigeria (Hurst Publishers/Oxford University Press, 2014). 

She holds a First Class Honour Degree in War Studies and American Studies from the University of Wolverhampton and a Master's Degree in Intelligence and Strategic Studies from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. 

04 Dec 2013 – ‘Insurgency, the Ivory Trade and Porous Borders in Eastern and Central Africa.’

Keith Somerville is a writer and lecturer on African affairs and the global media. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. Keith founded and runs the Africa, News and Analysis website and teaches the Humanitarian Communications module in the Politics and International Relations Department at the University of Kent. He is currently writing a contemporary history of Africa since 1970 for Wiley-Blackwell. His book on radio propaganda and hate broadcasting was published in October 2012 and he has published widely on African political and security issues. His expertise is spread across a number of fields:  the international politics of Africa; Southern African military and political affairs; Africa and the media; conservation and politics in Africa; and, the history and use of propaganda and hate broadcasting.

30 Oct 2013 – ‘The UK and France in West Africa: Towards Convergence?’

Tony Chafer has been Professor of Contemporary French Area Studies at the University of Portsmouth since 2004 and Director of the Centre for European and International Studies Research since 2001 (apart from 2008-9). His main research interests lie in French African policy in the colonial and post-colonial periods and he has recently been working on Anglo-French cooperation in Africa. Other areas of research interest include colonial memory in France and Francophone Africa, EU security policy in Africa, the EU and the African Union, and issues of immigration and identity in France.

28 May 2013 – ‘Post-war Reconstruction in Angola.’

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is University Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the University of Oxford, Official Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford, and Fellow of the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin. He is the author of Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (Hurst, 2007) and the co-editor of China Returns to Africa (Hurst, 2008), amongst other publications. He was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for 2011-12 and is finishing a monograph on post-war Angola.

07 May 2013 – ‘Ghana's 2012 elections: trends, and the way forward with democracy in Africa.’

Dr Michael Amoah is an Africa specialist. His new book, published by Palgrave Macmillan in November 2011, entitled Nationalism, Globalization, and Africahas comprehensive analysis on at least 16 African countries, including Ghana. He has published consistently on Ghanaian elections over the last decade: the 2000 elections (Amoah 2003); the 2004 elections (Amoah 2007a); and the 2008 elections (Amoah 2009). He is also the author of the Ghana chapter in the Africa Year Book 2009, 2010 and 2011. Dr Amoah was a lecturer at Middlesex University, and has held research appointments at the Institute of Education and The Open University. Most recently, he has been an Associate of the Africa International Affairs Programme at LSE IDEAS.


30 Oct 2012 – ‘Sudan: War and Peace’.

Professor Paul Moorcraft is an internationally respected expert on crisis communications, especially relating to military and security issues. He has worked in 30 war zones in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Balkans, often with irregular forces. Most recently he has been working in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Nepal, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. He is a former senior instructor at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College. His works include Shooting the Messenger: The Political Impact of War Reporting (Potomac, 2008, updated paperback, Biteback, 2011), co-authored with Prof. Phil Taylor; The Rhodesian War: A Military History, with Dr Peter McLaughlin, (Pen and Sword Books, April 2008; paperback 2011); Inside the Danger Zones: Travels to Arresting Places (Biteback, 2010); Mugabe’s War Machine (Pen and Sword,2011), and the Total Destruction of the Tamil Tigers: The Rare Victory of Sri Lanka’s Long War (Pen and Sword, November 2012).

06 March 2012 - 'Africa in the News' lunchtime discussion. Chaired by Prof Jack Spence OBE.

07 Feb 2012 - 'Africa in the News' lunchtime discussion. Chaired by Prof Jack Spence OBE. 

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