Serge Michailof » Books


> First endorsements for “Africanistan, Development or Jihad”

‘This is an important and well-written book. Sahelian Africa has the potential to become another Afghanistan and a real nightmare for Europe. It is still avoidable, and this book is a much-needed wake-up call.’— Paul Collier, former director of the World Bank’s Development Research Group, professor of Economics at Oxford University, and director of the Center for the Study of African Economies

‘Serge Michailof’s book is extraordinarily relevant as Europe struggles to cope with the refugee crisis and faces renewed terrorist threats. The Sahel, with its collapsing state structures, is the next major challenge of Europe and can become a strategic challenge for the world. Serge Michailof’s sober analysis should be read.’— Jean-Marie GuĂ©henno, President and CEO of International Crisis Group, former United Nations under secretary-general for Peacekeeping Operations

‘Africanistan is obligatory reading for all who wish to avoid a mega-humanitarian catastrophe, unprecedented refugee flows, and escalating extremist attacks in North America as well as Europe’— Malcolm Potts, professor of public health at the School of Public Health at the University of California–Berkeley

‘A timely and important book on the future of Africa and its potential impact on the world. A must read for anyone interested in peace, policy, and taking action to thwart terrorism before it’s too late.’— Jean-Louis Sarbib, CEO of Development Gateway and former senior vice president at the World Bank

‘An outstanding contribution to the understanding of state fragility by a true practitioner of development.’— Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region, the World Bank Group

> Book Summary

As security concerns grow, and fears about the contagion of insecurity and its impact domestically and internationally through terrorism develop, Serge Michailof’s “Africanistan: Development or Jihad” sets out a stark but critical reminder: development and sound development policies matter, but institution- and state-building matter even more. The type of pressures facing Afghanistan are now surfacing in Africa’s Sahel, with important implications for Europe and US security concerns as reflected in the growing US military presence, particularly in Niger, where the first US
casualties recently occurred.

Serge Michailof’s “Africanistan: Development or Jihad” sets out the important but troubling links between development policies gone awry and the growth of domestic and international terrorism. Across the Sahel, insecurity is now spreading like a bushfire, just like in Afghanistan. Despite major differences in history, geography, and culture, there are large and fascinating similarities between the Sahel and Afghanistan: a demographic impasse, stagnating agriculture, widespread rural misery, high unemployment, deep ethnic and religious fault lines, a weak state, poor governance, a lack of law and order, regional instability, drug trafficking, and the spread of radical Islam. In both cases, the interplay of internal governance issues and international development assistance are failing to avert a deterioration in the domestic security situation, with important international security dimensions.

Serge Michailof draws on his extensive experience as a development specialist to explore the links between the challenges facing the Sahel on the ground, and the development policies often crafted thousands of miles away in Europe or Washington. There is a positive way forward to help the Sahel to grow out of the triple threat of insecurity, under-development and terrorism onto a sound and sustainable pathway of economic and social development – but this will require more focussed development policies and a much greater emphasis put on institution- and state-building, particularly in the security sector.

The book has already attracted significant praise in France and francophone Africa as a wakeup call: sound development policies are needed not only to promote economic benefits, but also to build key state institutions and to thoroughly reform the security sectors. And the issue for other countries is clear: how can governments best reverse a deteriorating development and security context through the triumvirate of good government, strong military/security actions and sound development policies.

As stated in the foreword by the leading development economist Paul Collier, author of the “Bottom Billion”, Serge’s book is a warning of the international threat that will be faced in Europe and elsewhere if the security situation in the Sahel continues to deteriorate. And it will definitely deteriorate if the same recipes that failed in Afghanistan are again put into practice in the Sahel. Stabilizing the Sahel is possible, but not by relying on foreign troops or aid practices that have consistently failed in fragile countries; there is a better way forward. This is what Africanistan is all about.