Africa and Global Transformation: The Rise of Emerging Powers and a New International Order

  • Summer schools
  • Academic and Professional Development
  • Application code LCS-IR201
  • Starting 2019
  • Location: Cape Town

Video Play IR201

Video: "Our course explores the role of emerging powers and their engagement with the African continent, if they are a source for partnership, if they promote development, do they rather challenge African economy, and in what ways are they reshaping the African landscape." Professor Chris Alden, Professor of International Relations

Nowhere in the world is the rise of the emerging powers more evident than in Africa. From the multi-billion dollar investments in oil and minerals to the influx of thousands merchants, labourers and consumer goods, the growing political and economic reach of emerging powers like China, India and Brazil are redefining Africa’s traditional ties with the international community. At the same time, mobilised in part by this accelerated interest from abroad, the African continent is experiencing unprecedented growth, a rising middle class and signs of a new international assertiveness on the global stage. 

Is a new pattern of economic development, led by emerging power investment and robust political engagement, transforming not only Africa but challenging the established conventions which framed the continent’s relationship with the rest of the world? How are African interests aligning with new global actors and what are the areas of divergence? What are the implications of this global power transformation for African development and security on the continent? In order to understand the burgeoning relationship between emerging powers and Africa, we need to recognise the range of economic, diplomatic and security rationales behind emerging power engagement with the continent.

This dynamic course will investigate the deepening relationship between Africa and emerging powers, providing students with insights in the opportunities and challenges posed by this global transformation for Africa in the 21st century.

Key themes to be addressed include: Are emerging powers progressive forces for African development or potential hegemons? How can Africans best leverage the economic opportunities presented by emerging powers? How will these new modalities on aid and development affecting African economic practices and democratic principles? What are the security implications for fragile states and those emerging from conflict? Is South Africa’s role in BRICS transforming its aspirations and position as continental leader?

Click here to see the full course outline

Programme details


Professor Chris Alden

Professor Chris Alden is Professor of International Relations at Department of International Relations, LSE,  co-convenor of this course at the LSE-UCT Summer School and is internationally recognised as a leading scholar on the dynamic role of emerging powers in Africa. Amongst his publications are Emerging Powers in Africa (LSE-IDEAS 2013); The South in World Politics (Palgrave 2010); China Returns to Africa (Hurst 2008) and China in Africa (Zed 2007). His most recent publication China and Africa (Palgrave 2018) analyses how China’s links with Africa’s continental and regional organizations, especially the African Union, connects with security links it has developed with key African countries.

He has held fellowships at Cambridge University, Tokyo University, and Ecole Normale Superieure as well as won grants from DFID, the Open Society Institute and the MacArthur Foundation. He is Senior Research Associate of the Global Powers Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), a research associate of the University of Pretoria, review editor of IISS and director of the LSE-IDEAS Africa Programme. Dr Alden taught at Wits University for ten years, where he co-founded the continent’s first Asian studies research centre in 1992.

Dr Karen Smith

Dr Karen Smith is co-convenor of this course at the LSE-UCT Summer School and teaches International Relations at the University of Cape Town (UCT). From 2000 to 2010, she was based at the University of Stellenbosch. She is a research associate at the Institute of Global Dialogue, an associate editor of the journal International Political Sociology, and previously served as Secretary-General of the United Nations Association of South Africa.

Her current research interests include South Africa’s foreign policy, the emerging powers - especially India, new global governance groupings like IBSA and BRICS, Africa and International Relations theory, the changing world order, and friendship in international relations.

Sanusha Naidu

Sanusha Naidu is a foreign policy analyst. Currently she is based as senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue based at UNISA in Pretoria where she previously managed a project on South Africa’s international development diplomacy and cooperation, and she is also a Guest Lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at UCT. Ms Naidu has a Masters in International Relations from the University of Staffordshire, United Kingdom.

She has an extensive publications record which includes two edited volumes on Africa-China relations: Chinese and African Perspectives on China in Africa, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Africa and China. 

Student feedback

"It was a very interesting course and the staff were exceptionally good and very knowledgeable." Priyanshi Shah, City, University of London, United Kingdom

"Extremely enriching, lecturers on top of their game regarding their field, International Relations." Sonia Maissin, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Click here to read more of our alumni testimonials.


There are no prerequisites for this course.


Assessment will be based on a mid-term exam (worth 50% of the final mark) and one 1500 word essay at the end of the second week of teaching (worth 50% of the final mark).

Preparatory Reading List

A full reading list and course pack will be provided to registered students approximately six weeks before the beginning of the programme, please refer to the full course outline for provisional suggested readings.
  • Chris Alden, ed., Emerging Powers in Africa, Special Report SR06 June 2013, LSE-IDEAS 2013.
  • Karen Smith, “Soft Power: the Essence of South Africa’s Foreign Policy” in South African Foreign Policy Review, vol.1. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2012.
  • Karen Smith, “India’s Identity and its Global Aspirations” in Global Society, 26:3, 2012.
  • Chris Alden, Marco Vieira and Sally Morphet, The South in World Politics (Palgrave 2010).

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