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Insight & Analysis - February 24, 2022

10 African Countries Considered to Be Fragile States

Conflicts increased by activities of non-state actors, technology, and renewed geopolitical competition are among the major influencers of the fragility ratings.

According to the 2021 Fragile States index report by the United States Fund for Peace, a total of 179 countries are at various levels of fragility influenced by a number of economic and political events. A total of 45 African countries make up the list.

On the list, a country either has a negative status, indicating a slide in living conditions, or a positive status, indicating an improvement across all the parameters. In addition, the countries are distributed under four categories, namely: sustainable, stable, warning, and alert, to show the severity of the situation.

The Fragile States Index (formerly called the Failed States Index) is a list of countries drawn up by the United States think tank Fund for Peace using certain indicators. These include states whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of their territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.

According to the Fragile State Index, attributes of a fragile state may include:

  • The loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force;
  • The erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions;
  • An inability to provide reasonable public services;
  • The inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.


Global Overview

According to the review, 10 countries, namely the United States, Armenia, Spain, Ethiopia, Romania, Lebanon, Argentina, Belgium, Azerbaijan, and Peru, had the worst fragility last year, while the top 10 with the biggest decrease in fragility are Timor-Leste, Gabon, Gambia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Senegal, and Kenya.

African Countries Considered Fragile States

For African countries, issues such as conflicts increased by activities of non-state actors, technology, and renewed geopolitical competition are among the major influencers of countries’ ratings.

The issues of unemployment, underemployment and informal work are also said to interact with other issues such as refugee crisis, competition over cross-border resources, terrorism, piracy, climate shocks, lawlessness, communal conflicts affecting ethnic communities split across borders, porous borders, illegal cross-border trade, among other factors, thereby worsening existing conflicts and threatening regional stability.

Here is a review of the top 10 African countries on the list:

  • South Sudan: South Sudan is the first African country on the list at number 4 with a positive decrease of 1.4 points from 2020. This translates to an improvement in the social and political terrain within the country in the year under review.


  • DR Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo comes in 5th on the list with a positive decrease of 1.0.


  • Central African Republic: The Central African Republic is ranked 6th, with a positive decrease of 0.5 percent.


  • Chad: Chad is ranked 7th, with a positive decrease of 0.6 percent.


  • Sudan: Sudan is eighth on the list with a negative increase of 0.4 percent.


  • Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe ranks tenth, with a 0.1 percent positive decrease.


  • Ethiopia: Ethiopia is in the eleventh position with a negative increase of 4.4 percent.


  • Nigeria: Nigeria is ranked twelfth on the list, with a negative increase of 0.7 percent. This result is largely influenced by current environmental stress, economic and political tensions fuelling conflict over land, water, and cattle between herders and farmers in the Middle Belt. That conflict has killed six times more people than Boko Haram insurgency in the first half of 2018.


  • Guinea: Guinea also has a negative increase and sits at number fourteen.


  • Cameroon: Cameroon is ranked fifteenth, with a positive decrease of 0.7 percent.

READ ALSO: Top 6 African Countries with the most Natural Gas Reserves

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