Africa Program

Project Leaders
Date
2024 to Present

Building on LISD's portfolio of research, outreach, and education, this initiative focuses on democracy, security, and migration within the African context, exploring challenges and opportunities for nation-states and societies, as well as for the world as a whole.

Description

Democracy: The Africa Program aims to dissect the evolving democratic landscapes across the continent, offering insights into the successes and hurdles of democratic governance. Through collaborative research and forums, we seek to understand the nuances of electoral processes, civil society engagement, and the strengthening of democratic institutions. We will explore case studies and highlight African democracies in a comparative, regional perspective. The year 2024 is the world’s election year, and accordingly, we will also consider democracy on the continent in a global context, centering on such challenges as democratic backsliding.

Security: In an uncertain geopolitical environment with significant consequences for Africa, we plan to examine multiple profound security challenges on the African continent and their impact on freedom and prosperity. We intend to bring together policymakers, practitioners, and academic experts in search of thoughtful solutions grounded in the interests of global security and with a concentration on priorities of local stakeholders. Through leadership forums; case studies on war and peace and the growing power of terrorist organizations; and the use of frontier technologies, we will highlight the diverse, complex experiences for national and human security on the African continent and explore new ideas that advance freedom and prosperity.

Migration: Internal, intracontinental, and international mobility significantly affect African societies, and this program will investigate patterns and impacts of migration. Building on LISD’s prior work on the drivers of migration from sub–Saharan Africa to Europe, we will address relevant demographic and environmental factors, including burgeoning youth populations, urbanization, and climate change. In conversation with policymakers and migration experts, we will discuss near- and longer-term prospects for mobility within and from/to Africa, including migration by choice—in pursuit of economic or educational opportunities—and involuntary migration—due to poverty or conflict. We will focus on policy implications and sustainable solutions.

The new Africa Program is a student-driven initiative. A competitively selected group of 12 students headed by Tevin Singei ’25 constitutes our very first Africa Program Fellows cohort.

 

2024–2025 Africa Program Fellows

 

Tevin singei

Tevin Singei is a rising senior from Nairobi, Kenya, studying economics and pursuing the Program in Political Economy. He is interested in how the private and public sectors can collaborate for stronger, more efficient economic development, especially in the Global South. In addition, he is curious about international trade economics and the institutions that steer them—most recently, the African Continental Free Trade Area—and their implications on trade across Africa. Tevin is involved with preprofessional organizations in business, such as Prospect Student Ventures and Scholars of Finance, and is involved in international affairs as an undergraduate associate at the Julis-Rabinowitz Center for Public Policy & Finance. He has interned with consulting firms like BCG and finance companies like SoftBank and Advent International, where his interest in the effects of macro policies on businesses has continued to grow.

 

Minna Abdella

Minna Abdella, from Sudan and New Jersey, is a junior pursuing a concentration in the Princeton School of International Relations’ Department of Politics and a minor in neuroscience, and is on the premedical track. She is fluent in Arabic and her research interests are on the effects of colonialism in Sudan, Sudanese foreign policy, dictatorships, healthcare disparities between developed and developing countries, and the role of global health policy in bridging international divides. Minna has worked with former Senate Majority Leader (and heart-and-lung transplant surgeon) William H. Frist in Nashville, Tennessee. For summer 2024, she conducted health policy research to improve the health of children in public housing units, and shadowed at the Children’s National Hospital. Minna is the president of the Class of 2026, engages in the Princeton Model United Nations Conference, is an officer in the Black Pre-Medical Society, and a peer academic adviser.

 

Nana Agyeman

Nana Agyeman is a rising sophomore from Ghana studying economics with minors in finance and philosophy. His focus areas include political philosophy and the intersection between Africa’s private sector and its development-economics goals. Specifically, he is interested in how capitalism can connect the expansion of African private business to the welfare of the lower and middle classes. He is involved in the Princeton University Economic Development Organization, Paragon Global Investments, and BlackGen Capital. In summer  2024, Nana worked in investment banking at M.A. Adjaho & Co. and Stanbic Bank. Back at home, he is involved in charity work in education and healthcare access as part of the Asante Royal Family. Nana spends his free time playing tennis and renditioning West African highlife on the trumpet.  

 

Ali “Mehdi” Isse

Ali “Mehdi” Isse was born and raised in Somalia and relocated to the United States, where he has since lived in several states, including Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, and Illinois. He maintains strong emotional ties to Texas and Minnesota, deeply valuing the relationships and sense of community he found there. In addition to his native Somali, Mehdi is fluent in English and Arabic, and conversant in Swahili. He is pursuing a doctoral degree in public and international affairs at the School Public International Affairs, focusing on strategic studies and foreign policy decision-making. Before Princeton, he studied at the University of Chicago and worked as a grant writer for a nonprofit organization in Minnesota. Mehdi also has educational experiences in Kenya and Taiwan. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, soccer, chess, and bike riding.

 

Kaylee Kasper

Kaylee Kasper is a rising junior from Valparaiso, Indiana. She is a first-generation college student, admitted via the QuestBridge National College Match and is a second-generation American and a dual-citizen of South Africa, with immigrant parents from South Africa and Mexico. Kaylee is pursuing a major in the School of Public and International Affairs, a minor in Latin American Studies, and a certificate in Cognitive Science. She is passionate about ensuring citizens’ civil liberties and basic welfare, and hopes to learn how to craft and implement policies that guarantee proper legal justice within court systems, particularly in instances of domestic violence and child abuse. Kaylee is treasurer of the recently reestablished Princeton Archery Club, head archives editor of The Daily Princetonian, and special events chair of the Yeh College Council. Off campus, Kaylee tutors Korean business professionals on Ringle, advises first-generation, low-income high school students with Matriculate, and volunteers in the town of Princeton.

 

Don Kohla

Don Kohla is a rising senior in the School of Public and International Affairs. His interests focus on transatlantic security partnerships, global food security and the role of mercenaries and other violent nonstate actors in geopolitics. Don has work experience in veterans’ affairs, government relations and financial trust law, having previously served on the policy and government affairs team of K9s For Warriors, a veterans’ health-focused nonprofit, and he interned with Teton Trust Company, providing internal guidance on federal tax policies and bilateral financial agreements. Most recently, he interned at the Permanent Mission of the Principality of Liechtenstein to the United Nations, covering political affairs. On campus, Don is an officer of the Orange Key Tours and a research assistant for Wolfgang Danspeckgruber, focusing on global food security, the war in Ukraine, and Afghanistan.

 

Tendekai Mawokomatanda

Tendekai Mawokomatanda is a rising sophomore from Atlanta, Georgia, and Zimbabwe, studying at the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs. His focus areas include Southern African economic development, political stability, and US foreign policy related to African affairs. He recently attended the Princeton Global Seminar at Maseno University, Kenya, where he studied the evolution of capitalism in Eastern and Central Africa and improved his Kiswahili skills. Tendekai has appeared on Voice of America, discussing US sanctions on Zimbabwe and suggesting strategies to address corruption and human rights abuses. He is an accomplished double bassist, having performed at Carnegie Hall with the National Youth Orchestra of the USA and also served as principal bassist of the Princeton University Orchestra. Tendekai is committed to advancing macroeconomic and anti-corruption policies (i.e., integrity-first policies), and aims to serve as a US senator and lead the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

 

Brian Mhando

Brian Mhando is a junior from New York, studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with minors in Global Health and Health Policy and African American Studies. During high school, Brian spent his junior year in rural areas of Tanzania, where he was alerted to the infrastructural challenges that caused many of his relatives to suffer from waterborne and vector-borne parasites. He is interested in studying how Africa’s diplomatic relations, particularly within the East African Community, can be leveraged to mitigate the spread of neglected tropical diseases in rural areas. Brian is a former Princeton Prize in Race Relations recipient, a senior sports writer for The Daily Princetonian, an Outdoor Action orientation leader, and a development coordinator for Camp Kesem Princeton. Previously, Brian has interned at Regeneron, the Wilcove lab in the Amazon rainforest, and One Health Trust in Bangalore, India.

 

Nolan Musslewhite

Nolan Musslewhite is a rising senior from Washington, DC studying History (with an Africa emphasis) with minors in African Studies, European Cultural Studies, Hellenic Studies, and Humanistic Studies. Proficient in Swahili, Latin, and Ancient Greek, and currently studying Portuguese, he is interested in U.S. policy toward Africa and African politics. Nolan has worked as a strategy intern for a Cape Town-based startup, a legislative intern for three U.S. Senators, focusing on foreign affairs and security policy, and at the U.S. Department of Defense. He has also studied Swahili in Kenya through Princeton in Kenya, and received a Stone/Davis Prize from the History Department to conduct senior thesis research in Kenya and Zanzibar.  Nolan volunteers for the Irregular Warfare Initiative and the Irregular Warfare Center.

 

Patrick Newcombe

Patrick Newcombe is a rising senior with strong interests in the School of Public & International Affairs and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. He has experience in ecology, international development, and security. Patrick has research and professional experience at the Amazon Conservation Association, World Bank, and other organizations and has published several peer-reviewed papers. He is interested in questions on environmental sustainability and conservation, natural resources, and the role of biodiversity and ecology in a changing world, especially in the intersection with international affairs. He is a passionate birder, wildlife photographer, and traveler who graduated from Sidwell Friends School in 2020 as a Caroline D. Bradley Scholar.

 

Leighton Symons

Leighton Symons, originally from London and Toronto, is a rising senior in the Department of History. Her academic interests include British history, colonialism’s impact on modern state building, and Canada’s role on the global stage. This summer, she will work as a Joseph S. Nye, Jr. National Security Intern with the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Last summer, Leighton interned at Kenya Scholars Access Program (KenSAP) in Eldoret, Kenya, a nonprofit college access program that helps high-achieving, low-income Kenyan students gain admission to selective universities in North America. In summer 2022, she studied microeconomics and political economy at the London School of Economics. On campus, Leighton is a managing editor of The Princeton Historical Review, project manager at the Princeton Nonprofit Consulting club, and a member of the Women’s Club Soccer team.

 

Sedise Tiruneh

 

Tatyana Wabwire

Tatyana Wabwire is a rising sophomore from Kenya. Her academic interest is third world/first world relations, specifically the situation of African countries caught between superpowers past and present. This was sparked by her recognition of the growing Chinese influence in Kenya and on the continent at large, which impacts relations with the United States and is reminiscent of the Soviet Union/US situations in Africa in the later half of the 20th century. In high school, Tatyana was a member of the Know Your World Initiative (KYWI) Club, which is dedicated to exposing students to real world issues and opportunities for helping to mitigate them together with the officials responsible. On campus, Tatyana is a member of Christian Union Nova, Princeton Ballroom Dance Club, Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP), and the Society of African Internationals at Princeton (SAIP).

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