Civil War in Africa: Exploring its Consequences

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Updated: Jun 19, 2023
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This Civil War was devastating for Liberia, but it had greater consequences for Sierra Leone because of the spillover effect. Liberia caused a Civil War in Sierra Leone by the main rebel group in the Liberian Civil War also being involved in the Sierra Leone conflict. The rebel group, National Patriotic Front of Liberia stationed in Liberia, led by Charles Taylor, provided weapons and funds to the rebels called Revolutionary United Front (RUF), who were fighting the Sierra Leonean government in an attempt to overthrow it.

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Murdoch and Sandler also look into the spillover effect; they theorize that when neighborhood spillovers are substantial, this assistance may have to be “augmented to counteract civil war externalities for an aid-recipient nation to stay on its path to a higher steady-state level of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, but in the short run growth spillover has a negative effect on it”( Murdoch and Sandler). This conflict situation is a perfect representation of spillover that has a negative effect because the Liberian Civil War and its spread to Sierra Leone, particularly since 1995, caused a total collapse of their economy. The country was troubled economically because the black market in Sierra Leone was used frequently, meaning people were buying products at the same rate as the legal market; it increased in the lawless conditions of civil war. Sierra Leone’s economy was in crisis mode, mainly in the years leading up to the civil conflict. The economy was very unstable, with economic growth rates fluctuating between 7% and -7%, but during the civil war, the growth rate dipped as low as -17% (Trading Economics). Investments in Sierra Leone also decreased as a result of the conflict spillover. Today, Sierra Leone reported steady growth in foreign direct investment, but in 2012, an Ebola epidemic slowed growth until 2017.

Bayer and Rupert looked into International Trade during the years 1950-1992; one key finding from their analysis is that “of 120 countries between 1950 and 1992 is that civil wars decrease trade between states by at least one-third” and is not restricted to just the host country, but the whole region economically is affected (Bayer and Rupert). This is critical in my analysis because they connect their paper with Murdoch and Sandler’s, which states there is an economic spillover effect. Civil Wars will make entry to the war-torn country’s markets by a new trader difficult because there is pressure to stay away from the conflict. Current traders in the market will try to keep out new traders since they want most of the market share; this also applies the investments in a country.

As stated previously, the money invested in human capital declines though the amount of human capital is increased. Thus, long-term growth can be hindered because efforts are not focused on education either directly through their involvement in combat or because the conflict does not allow them to reach their school. This can be seen in an article written by Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, “the post-war economic growth is not really an increase in economic potential, but that these enhanced levels of growth are only due to the fact that existing capital can be reutilized, the analysis showed that although increase in per capita GDP it did not pass pre-war levels” (Collier and Hoeffler 2004). This has stayed constant with previous civil wars. They investigated and explained Sierra Leone perfectly. During the war and to this day, throughout much of the country, they have no access to water, sanitation, or electricity. Murdoch and Sandler examined how they only see that in effects in the short run rather than the long run. I believe that after the Civil War is over, the country’s economy will receive aid; initially, a small number of investors will begin reinvesting again, and finally, human capital will be introduced again into the labor market. This caused Sierra Leone to receive aid from multiple: agencies, bilateral donors, developmental programs, and banks and thus made the transition from war to reconstruction very easy. Since the spillover, the country still has a high unemployment rate, especially among the youth and low domestic revenue areas, therefore is still a very high dependency on foreign aid.

For both conflicts, there is no one simple solution because Civil Wars are complex situations that are constantly changing, especially economically. Presently both countries are at pre-war levels economically but haven’t exceeded them. I believe the connection between countries is evident, and Sierra Leone and Liberia can rebuild their infrastructure. Essential things such as roads will have a huge impact on the economy; roads are critical to nearly every aspect of both countries’ recovery. Roads are key to reducing rural poverty, as they allow rural consumers to buy goods more cheaply and open new markets and economic opportunities for farmers and other rural producers. They can also help create jobs directly through the operations of road construction and indirectly by creating new economic opportunities for people in rural areas. It will provide a network that will benefit economically and socially. In Chamberlin et al.’s, they theorize that an increase in market access from road network improvement is necessary to increase the amount of cultivated land in sub-Saharan Africa. Using this study, Berg et al. find that the annual growth rate of cropland area steadily increased over the period from 0.53% in the 1970–1980 decade to 1.67% in the 2000–2010 period (Berg et al. 2018). Suggestive evidence of a positive association between increases in cropland and local GDP growth and between increases in market access and local GDP growth beyond the effect through cropland expansion. This can be effective in both countries because not only do they rely on agriculture but also their natural resources. I would recommend an overhaul of their management of natural resource production. The government must shift away from the old model of largely centralized plantation agriculture to an economic model that encourages small ownership production such that production schemes are reassuring small productions like coffee and cocoa. This can lead to biodiversity and eliminate many environmental problems large plantations have on the cropland. Implementing this type of reform would be critical to creating jobs and building a more inclusive rural economy.

South Sudan Conflict

South Sudan is the world’s newest nation. They gained their independence on January 9th, 2011. The citizens of now South Sudan voted in 2005 to separate from the north and became an independent nation by a wide margin. The newly created country had many different ethnic groups that didn’t have an enemy in common, and they relied on their religious background as a badge of glory, not their national identity, which led to a South Sudan Civil War. This conflict has over 2.47 million estimated refugees and asylum-seekers, and “18,802 total United Nations personnel have been deployed into the country” (Campbell). The two sides in the South Sudan Civil War have signed a peace agreement as of July 29, 2018. The result of this peace agreement is critical in the region; it will open opportunities for waterways, trade, and travel. It will bring life and stability back to the region. This paper has explained the negative effects of the Civil Wars and conflicts on a neighboring country, but there are some positives too. The CIA states that Kenya has taken in 114,432 Registered refugees and asylum-seekers out of the 2.47 million that fled. I think, in part, this is why the spillover effect had minimal effect on Kenya’s economy. “About 90% of consumed goods, capital, and services are imported from neighboring countries – mainly Uganda, Kenya, and Sudan” (CIA). Since this is the case, armies and civilians have to eat; this led to spillover into Ethiopia also. In Ethiopia, many border villages reported raids and killings. One example is twenty-six South Sudanese military soldiers taking 108 cattle and, in another neighborhood, killing twenty-eight people and kidnapping forty-eight children (Campbell). Since this incident, the Ethiopian military increased its military spending by thirty million US dollars. The Ethiopian government is taking this very seriously because they have also experienced a civil war recently and do not want to experience another deadly conflict. Even though they signed a peace agreement, there is always a likelihood that they will violate it as they have done before.
Although civil wars have domestic origins, the burden of cleaning up the mess in the aftermath of civil wars seems to be shared with the International Community. Each country in that region wants to help South Sudan because the country’s oil output “is expected to reach 210,000 barrels per day by the end of 2018” (MBah). So, countries need to think and take calculated steps to help them resolve the conflict. I believe the South Sudan civil war is a measuring stick on where the Horn of Africa is morally and economically is a disaster, but this is a conflict where it affects the big players of the region. If they cannot sustain peace, they will never make the advancements needed to improve technologically and economically.


All of these variables are very important because it harms people, country, and their economy. It is the reason why developing countries around the world cannot increase their expansion or growth. Their economy is halted, and the people are forced from their homes and leaving everything. This increases tension in the homeland or in the neighboring country that accepts refugees. Military conflicts are very complex situations, and they affect the global society. In this paper, I discussed three conflicts that have resulted in a spillover into neighboring countries; they are just two situations out of hundreds. I have explained what happens to both economies, the consequences of conflicts, and some reasonable solutions. As a world, we need to look at ourselves; these types of conflicts affect everyone either economically or morally.

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Civil War in Africa: Exploring its Consequences. (2023, Jun 19). Retrieved from