1 July 2021 / Maryam RokhidehLeveraging the Peacebuilding Potential of Cross-border Trader Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa
Cross-border trade plays a prominent role in economic, social, and political life in Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing significantly to development, poverty reduction, and job creation. Across the continent, cross-border trade accounts for 43 percent of the entire population’s income. As actors embedded in licit and illicit networks at local and regional levels, cross-border traders have the potential to fuel conflict or mitigate it. They can act as spoilers, supporting armed groups and war economies, or as peace intermediaries, negotiating peace deals and bridging conflict divides across communities. Given that most armed conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa are shaped by cross-border dynamics, cross-border traders present an underexamined yet critical point of entry for analyzing and addressing conflicts and should be included in new and ongoing peacebuilding programming. This policy note provides recommendations on how policymakers can leverage the untapped peacebuilding potential of cross-border traders and decrease their spoiling power. Suggested citation: Rokhideh, Maryam. Leveraging the Peacebuilding Potential of Cross-border Trader Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, D.C.: RESOLVE Network, 2021. https://doi.org/10.37805/pn2021.17.lpbi.