The Brenthurst Foundation

The Brenthurst Foundation was established in October 2004 by The Oppenheimer family. It has its origins in the Brenthurst Initiative of August 2003, which instigated a debate in South Africa around policy strategies for higher rates of economic expansion. Today the Foundation is on the frontier of innovative development thinking and knowledge in formulating strategies and policies for strengthening Africa's economic performance. At the invitation of African governments it works in the full spectrum of countries: From those emerging from conflict to those diversifying their economic activities. 

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Policy and Research Papers

The first crack in Africa’s map?

A Brenthurst discussion paper (2012/01) tackling the case of South Sudan six months on from achieving statehood. South Sudan is facing serious challenges: economic warfare with Sudan, the emergence of Cashmir-like scenarios on their border and renewed internecine conflicts within its own territory. None of these threats were unforeseen by the African Union or the wider international community in the months and years leading up to independence. In some respects, how the new state of South Sudan would address these issues could either soften the firm stance against changing Africa's borders or cement international opinion against any further 'balkanisation' of Africa.  

This Discussion Paper considers whether South Sudan's secession has made independence more likely for other would-be states in Africa, from Somaliland to Cabinda. Based on extensive discussions between senior policy makers and academics at a high-level workshop convened by the Brenthurst Foundation in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in September 2011, as well as additional research, the Paper argues that Africa's borders are likely to remain stubbornly resistant to change despite Sudan's historic split -  and this stance has likely only been reinforced by South Sudan's troubled start.  Although the South Sudan case is likely to remain an exception rather than a precedent, the Arab Spring is a salutary reminder, if any was needed, that events have a way of building on themselves. For all the powerful constraints on secession highlighted in this Paper, the much-feared balkanisation of Africa must never be dismissed as fanciful. 

The idea of self-determination is not on the wane in Africa - South Sudan's long struggle will surely embolden existing secessionist groups and may inspire new movements - but the obstacles to independent statehood appear as formidable as ever.


Somalia 2012: Ending the Transition?

This is a critical time for Somalia. There are less than 90 days until the end of the transitional federal government’s mandate on 20 August 2012, and the stakes are high for the delivery of the key components of the political ‘roadmap’, not least a new constitution. At the same time, the five-year insurgency that has wracked the south and central regions has entered a new phase, with fighting now along numerous fronts as the African Union peacekeeping mission has expanded to include forces from Kenya, with more promised from Djibouti and Sierra Leone. Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qa’ida-linked conglomerate, appears to be on the back foot: it has been bruised by Somali Army and AMISOM offensives and is internally divided. But the complex, changeable dynamics of Somalia’s recent past suggest that it is too early to call time on this persistent opponent of the TFG.

In response to the changing dynamics within Somalia and the growing regional and international interest in the country’s future, RUSI and the Brenthurst Foundation convened a one-day roundtable discussion in London in November 2011 to discuss the key issues facing Somalia during this time of political transition. This report summarises the roundtable discussion. It also includes three important essays from leading Somalis and Somalia observers, each of which emphasise the centrality of Somalis in shaping their own political future, as well as the continued role of the regional and international community; together with a special focus on the situation of women in Somalia during this time of change.


'Everything is at Zero'. Beyond the Referendum. Drivers and Choices for Development in Southern Sudan

The purpose of this paper is, however, not to add to the extensive literature speculating on various outcomes and their consequences. Serious efforts are currently
being made by the parties themselves, the African Union, other regional partners, the UN and other international stakeholders to address the immediate challenges so as to secure a peaceful transition after the expiry of the interim period. This paper, rather, focuses on the one variable that remains constant in both scenarios, which is long-term and strategic in nature: The ability of the South – where ‘everything’, in the words of its President, ‘is at zero’ – to develop and improve the lives of its ten million people.