The Fortress World scenario emerges as a result of the struggle for power between two or more groups of people in a nation, identified here as the elites and the masses. The elites have access to resources of economic growth and monopolize them for their own development, while the masses have few resources and are left at the mercy of the elites. The masses depend on the leftovers from the elites and are often not in a position to decide their own destiny. As a result of the need to protect themselves and their investments, the elites organize themselves into enclaves, strongholds or garrisons. These enclaves are connected through treaties and alliances with each other at the national and regional levels, and through networks of economic interaction at the global and international levels. They are often well connected with multinational companies which operate in these enclaves.

Two variants of the Fortress World scenario, with similar consequences, may occur in Africa. The first may result from conflicts around religion and ethnicity, while the second is based on global relations. The second is a global fortress world where the forces of separatism derive from the collapse of the world economic, social and political systems. Organizations like the AU may easily adjudicate in the prevention of fortress worlds of the first type. However, certain clauses in the laws setting up the organization have to be more alive to the issues involved in the second type of fortress world, as these require economic restructuring and empowerment of the deprived class.

The elites have access to resources of economic growth and monopolize them for their own development, while the masses have few resources and are left at the mercy of the elites.

The Fortress World scenario is a crystallization of certain patterns of historical behaviour among peoples and nations where inequalities abound, and where efforts have not been taken or mechanisms put in place for the mitigation of effects of inequalities. In such areas, the struggle for power often leads to the existence of “protected areas” for the elite who hold on to power at all costs. The remaining persons are forced into enclaves that display different characters from those of the “protected areas.” Thus, while amenities and technological development could be at maximum development in the areas of the elite, the areas of the marginalized masses are depressed, often lacking all amenities and are considered as the backwaters of development. Economic and social welfare are not directed at improving the general well-being of everybody, but at protecting the privileges of the rich and powerful elite. In this scenario there is a growing divide between rich and poor people. This situation paves the way for increasing disputes between individuals, institutions and governments over resources for production, particularly land, and increases the likelihood of tensions over issues of wealth and its distribution. It is the continued play of these situations that leads to the establishment of the fortress to avoid total breakdown of law and order.

Although the fortress world situation may not yet be a reality, its elements are rife in many countries in Africa. The fenced and highly-secured residences of elites in many cities in the region, described cynically as the “architecture of fear”, are an indication of the possibility of its emergence, as is the high level of social inequity between rich and poor, men and women, rural and urban, and different regions. The degree of social inequity can be measured using various tools including the Gini coefficient, gender-related development index (GDI) and gender empowerment measure (GEM). Another indication is the are constant agitation over resources in different parts of Africa, including Sudan, Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire. The ongoing unrest in the Niger delta in Nigeria over petroleum is also a good example of the seeds for the emergence of a fortress world situation, if not properly redressed.