Revisiting Regional Security Complex Theory in Africa: Museveni’s Uganda and Regional Security in East Africa

Barney Walsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article revisits Buzan and Waever’s Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT), and asks what is the utility of Buzan and Waever’s RSCT framework in understanding African security issues? It includes theoretical insight and criticism of RSCT whilst simultaneously providing an empirical case study of Uganda’s President Museveni within East Africa. It focuses in particular on a period between 2010 and 2015 when East African security dynamics were in flux. The article argues, primarily, that Regional Security Complex Theory can be improved by including a clearer articulation of how African leaders assert influence within, and shape, regional security dynamics in Africa. Doing so allows for a better realization of how Regional Security Complexes come into being. The article draws on over four years of desktop research and over one hundred field-work interviews in East Africa and South Africa with regional security specialists, military personnel, politicians, government officials, journalists, academics, market traders and economists. The paper highlights President Museveni’s uniquely active and influential role in shaping regional security dynamics in East Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-324
Number of pages25
JournalAfrican Security
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • African agency
  • East African security
  • Regional security complex theory
  • Ugandan political economy


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