Economic activities are the most central of all human endeavors. Although rich in human and geographic diversity, Africa has fallen behind the rest of the world in its economic development, adversely impacting African aspirations. This paper explains why economic development and good governance need to be the basis of security and stability in Africa, and why both should be a main focus for U. S. military engagement on the continent.

Written as a primer for military and government staff members who may be unfamiliar with Africa but are assigned duties that involve participation in African affairs, this paper explains the historic and modern importance of Africa to American national interests. It then lays a foundation as to how and why the U.S. government, and especially the military, might become involved in improving African economic development and political governance in order to attain security and stability. To better understand the circumstances in Africa, this paper describes and analyzes its economic and political conditions in terms of economic, social, and demographic measures revealing why, as a region, Africa lags the world in economic and human development. The reasons for slow development are examined through Africa's main economic activities, which give insight to its current conditions and ways to improve economic development and governance.

With these insights provided as background, the paper then reviews current U.S. military engagement with African nations and its effectiveness. It then argues that military-led nation assistance and peace building operations are not as good an option for improved African development as the more appropriate approach of military-support to an interagency-led operation under a better resourced U.S. Agency for International Development, which would more effectively assist Africa with achieving stability and security.

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