The 20th IREN Africa Resource Bank Forum: Call for Abstracts

Published on 25th November 2022

The 20th IREN Africa Resource Bank Forum

Theme: A New Game? Situating Africa in Strategic Geopolitical Competitions

Format: Hybrid (In person and Virtual)

Date: December 14, 2022

The Russia-Ukraine conflict and the United States of America’s tensions with China over Taiwan threatens the three-decade unipolar World Order that has dominated Africa’s global positioning. During the Cold War Era, majority of African countries in the Bandung Conference held in 1955 advocated for nonalignment, self-determination, and upholding sovereignty. The current geopolitical tensions and recalibrations are taking place against a backdrop where both the old and re-emerging powers such as the United States of America, European Union, China, Japan, Russia, Turkey, and India, among others are engaging and making forays in Africa. Global powers are more ready to give up their values to contain the influence of their competitors. The 20th Africa Resource Bank Forum seeks to catalyze informed discussions on Africa’s state of preparedness to navigate the impact of the unfolding geopolitical developments.

Key Objective – To discuss Africa’s state of preparedness to navigate the impact of the unfolding geopolitical developments.

Other objectives

• To discuss whether Africa and the global south are being sidelined or misused as the global north focusses on its own conflicts and strategic interests in the Ukraine and Taiwan.

• To analyze whether Africa’s policy towards the big global players is changing in the light of the new global conflicts.

• To analyze the impact of ongoing conflicts on long held values by big powers as well as Africa’s strategic interests

• To provide key policy proposals on how Africa should navigate the impact of these conflicts

This short conceptual note does not claim to fully espouse the contradictions in Situating Africa in Strategic Geopolitical Competitions discourses and praxis of the 21st century. Nevertheless, we anticipate unpretentious and bold contributions on this theme.  We ask for empirically grounded contributions that take conceptual and theoretical issues seriously. We anticipate contributions that are not afraid to problematize geopolitics in any framework. We seek new ways of thinking about the geopolitics of economics, knowledges, ideologies, and practices in 21st-century Africa.

We invite papers and panels addressing any related topics, especially:

1. A new game: Situating Africa in strategic Geopolitical Competitions.

• Identify old and new geopolitical games/strategies in general

• Identify the current strategic geopolitical competitions

• Discuss how Africa participates in the strategic geopolitical competitions


2. The Global Power Shifts: The Impact of big power cycles/empire cylcles on Africa for the last 500 Years

• Discuss the major and big powers that have impacted Africa for the last 500 years

• Identify specific “sticky” legacy points of influence by the powers

• Discuss impact of big power shifts on Africa


3. The Quadrant of Wealth and Power of Nations:  The key drivers to creation of wealth and power of nations

•Discuss the key determinants to regional and global wealth creation

•Identify the quadrant that drives the wealth and power of nations

•Discuss how the quadrant effect catalyzes shift of wealth and power from nation-state to    another/from one empire to another


4. The Power of Narratives and Framing: Leveraging on contemporary media and digital platforms to strategically position Africa in geopolitical competitions

• Discuss the role of arts and culture in leveraging Africa’s position in strategic geopolitical competitions

• How can Africa utilize digital platforms to position its narrative and framing in strategic global competitions?

• What is the place of African popular culture in strategic geopolitical competitions? 

• Discuss the place of values and clash of value systems in the strategic geopolitical competitions


5. Diplomacy in a Turbulent World: Scenarios and Options for Africa

• Discuss the diplomatic tools available for Africa to navigate strategic geopolitical competitions

• How can Africa galvanize its interests in the unfolding shifts in the global order?

• Discuss the best criteria for choosing the right partner for Africa

• Discuss the diplomatic tools of the future in the unfolding strategic geopolitical competition


6. Globalization to De-Globalization: The Strategic Skillset for Africa

• Discuss types of skills needed to make Africa competitive in the changing global order

• Propose effective skills delivery and evaluation metrics for Africa

• Discuss the role of Africa’s indigenous knowledge and skills and propose ways on how they can be optimized in the unfolding scenario where big powers hoard knowledge and technology 


7. The New Realignment: The Repercussions for International Relations from ongoing Russia – Ukraine Conflict

• Discuss the repercussions of the Russia – Ukraine conflict on Africa

• Discuss the position taken by African nations on the ongoing Russia – Ukraine conflict

• Discuss likely scenarios of this conflict on Africa’s future in geopolitics


Submission Guidelines

Individual Submission: Individual proposals should include a 250-word abstract, a short bio, and the email and phone contacts of presenters. Please do not submit more than one abstract. Abstracts cannot have more than two presenters. You cannot present more than one paper, either solo or joint.   

Group Submission: Panel, roundtable, and workshop proposals should comprise a 250-word summary, and the email and phone contacts of all panelists.

Please email abstracts to [email protected]  

Submission Deadline: December 2, 2022. Notification of acceptance of abstracts by December 6, 2022

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