The fragmentation of conflict networks in North and West Africa

African armed conflicts involve a myriad of state forces, rebel groups and extremist organisations bound by rapidly changing alliances and rivalries. Organisations that were allies one day can fight each other the next and co-operate later still. The objective of this note is to update the pioneer work on conflict networks conducted by the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) in the region by using a formal approach to networks known as dynamic social network analysis. Leveraging a dataset of 3 800 actors and 60 000 violent events from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) from 1997-2023, the note monitors how the co-operative and rivalrous ties between violent actors have changed over time, both at the regional and local levels. The growing number of belligerents, increasing density of rivalrous relationships and growing polarisation of the conflict networks observed in this note are extremely worrying for the future of the region. Not only do they make peaceful efforts more difficult than ever, but they also contribute to increasing the number of potential victims among the civilian population.

Published on March 09, 2024Also available in: French

In series:West African Papersview more titles