The lives of people on the African continent will be shaped in the near future by dynamic mega-trends such as urbanisation and the likely doubling of the population to two billion by 2050. These trends are very difficult to steer politically. As part of a cross-programme research project, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is examining options for shaping future cooperation with Africa in such a way for achieving a transformation to sustainable development in Africa. This transformation will only succeed if the necessary general conditions are in place within society. Consequently, DIE is researching the causes and patterns of social cohesion and social disintegration in Africa. At the same time, it intends to develop scenarios for a socially and environmentally responsible transformation in the African economy. The study focuses on constellations of actors and cooperation approaches in a range of policy areas (e.g. economic, security and climate policy) as the binding element of societal, economic and environmental transformation. Joint production of research and knowledge with African partners is a central element of the overarching research programme. Building on existing research partnerships and in cooperation with the T20 Africa Standing Group, which DIE co-founded, the programme is being implemented with African partner organisations.