Africa in the Age of the Thucydides Trap

14 May 2024

The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) hosted an online roundtable discussion with ANC Head of Policy and Research, Fébé Potgieter-Gqubule, Rise Mzansi Head of Internal Democracy, Boitumelo Mpakanyane and DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Emma Louise Powell, on the topic Africa in the Age of the Thucydides Trap: Searching for global leadership and strategic thought. 

The roundtable event was moderated by Dr Sithembile Mbete, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, and a leading commentator on South African and international politics.


As the international political system shifts towards multipolarity, economic and security competition among the great powers is intensifying. Some observers worry that the world might be in danger of falling into a ‘Thucydides Trap’, a term coined by political scientist Graham Allison to describe a situation in which the fear of a rising power displacing an established one leads to a conflict that harms everyone. However, such an outcome is not inevitable, and smaller countries may have an important role to play in pushing the world towards greater stability and peace.


How should South Africa position itself in response to these geopolitical trends? The roundtable was an opportunity to discuss some of the most important global issues that will have an impact on our country and continent in decades to come.

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