Amid intensifying international rivalry, great powers are increasingly interested in Africa. The continent hosts fast-growing economies and populations, huge natural resources and minerals that are critical for the transition to green technologies. Africa is also affected by wars and conflicts, which have an impact on Europe and the rest of the world. Increasingly, African states are beginning to advance their interests in novel ways, including through intra-African security cooperation or new alliances with non-African states.

UN helicopter in sunset

This rapid change to the security policy environment and the world’s growing interest in the continent have heightened the need for increased knowledge about African security issues and their impact on Europe and Sweden. The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), therefore, studies the political, military, economic and social development on the continent, with a particular focus on security.

FOI’s Studies in African Security primarily carries out work commissioned by the Swedish Government Offices. The group follows an interdisciplinary approach, often in collaboration with other regional, thematic and technical expertise at FOI, drawing upon its extensive contact network with stakeholders in Sweden and Africa.

In addition to monitoring and analysing current affairs, FOI’s Studies in African Security deals with a wide range of issues relevant to security policy, such as:

  • Analysis of African states, regions and regional actors
  • Analysis of the African security policy architecture
  • Analysis of non-state armed groups
  • Analysis of economic flows, such as arms trading, trade relations, natural resource endowments, and natural resource flows.

Our focus is on issues of particular relevance to Sweden, the EU and NATO.


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FOI Studies in African Security is a research group with extensive expertise in security studies related to different parts of the African continent.

Anna Ida Rock, has a doctorate in political science from Uppsala University and is project manager for FOI Studies in African Security. Her research has mainly focused on regional security issues pertaining to the Horn of Africa, Turkey’s Africa Policy and the role of returnees from the diaspora in statebuilding processes.

Carina Gunnarson, is Associate Professor in political science and deputy project manager for FOI Studies in Africa Security. Her work focuses on French foreign and security policy in Europe, Africa and in the Indo-pacific. She is an expert on organized crime. She has previously worked at Uppsala University, the Institute for Futures Studies, Ritsumeikan University, Linnaeus University, the Swedish Security Service and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Gabriella Körling holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology. Her research focusses on the relation between state, politics and society in the Sahel with particular expertise on Niger and Mali. Gabriella has previously worked at Uppsala University and at Stockholm University.

Olivier Milland is an analyst and has a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. His main research areas are the security development in the Sahel and West Africa, the African Peace and Security Architecture, and great power competition and non-state actors’ presence and interests in Africa.

Karolina Lindén is a Junior Analyst focusing on the Horn of Africa, Sudan and Russia’s policy and influence in Africa. She has previously served at Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including positions at several embassies. Karolina holds a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering and Management and a bachelor’s degree in Arabic.

Aron Lund specializes in security in the Middle East, North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean. He is affiliated to the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, the New York-based think tank Century International, and the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews. He holds a Master of Arts from Uppsala University.

Erika Holmquist is a senior analyst and head of the Middle East programme at FOI. Her current research interests are regional security issues pertaining to the Middle East with a particular focus on Iran, and regional security issues pertaining to the Horn of Africa with a particular focus on Ethiopia.


Associated researchers:

Samuel Neuman Bergenwall Senior Analyst (focusing on Indian and Gulf state Africa policy).

Elin Hellquist Senior Analyst (focusing on military missions, the African Union).



Last updated: 2024-06-28