Security in Africa: Three major challenges

The current events on the African continent are rich enough to remind us how much instability strikes the region but very often with the same denominators. North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are confronted with common challenges such as terrorism, illegal immigration, problems of governance, military empowerment, etc. Moreover, the recent visits of King of Morocco in Senegal then in Ivory Coast, testify of the necessity of strengthening the regional cooperation. The stakes are multiple and rather complex to be all covered in this article. We are thus going to look at three major issues for the African countries to consider:

1/ The fight against terrorism: while the fight against AQMI, BOKO HARAM and AL SHEBBAB seems to stagnate, it is important to put in perspective the partial results of this ongoing fight. Indeed several leaders of those groups were neutralized by the special forces of ” qualified and equipped” countries. Moreover, sleeper cells were identified then handled in countries of the region. Is it sufficient when we know that the recruitment of the followers of religious extremism and its realization through terrorism, continues to make emulators?  It is unfortunately the most vulnerable populations which are the favourite targets of the recruiters of these extremist groups. In other words, the poor people are specifically targeted because very often or too often receptive to messages conveyed by these movements. We thus insist on the necessity for the African countries, to create effectively the conditions of human development for their populations, poverty must be fought. The redistribution of wealth has to be a reality once and for all in Africa. The armed struggle against these movements must too be maintained, but especially the anticipation of this threat has to be the keystone of this war. The African armies must be trained and supported in logistics by the West, to eradicate this permanent threat. Besides, the African States have to develop an inclusive African strategy of fight against this plague, based on the key role of communities. Finally, the raising awareness of the youngest, remains a success factor of this fight against terror. The African countries must be more active on the frontlines of psychological warfare against terrorism and to do so, they can outsource this merciless fight.

2/ The fight against illegal immigration: on this point, the current event reflects the urgency to act for the African governments. The images of illegal immigrants or refugees, piled up in boats and for many having died during their crossings towards Europe, shocked the world opinion. But did these images really move the African themselves? What about the mobilization of countries where these immigrants’ waves come from? What about the African solidarity in front of this drama, which testifies of a collective failure to ensure the human development on the continent and so to make it attractive for all these desperate persons? Let us not forget that all these migrants, fled their countries for a quest of human dignity somewhere else. Living in better conditions, free and far from the possible oppression of some regimes, that is what also motivates the illegal immigration. The time is for the mobilization of countries suppliers of these immigrants to create the conditions of their care and especially the conditions of their self-fulfilment on their lands of origin. Indeed it is of the responsibility of the Africans, to make attractive their countries not only for the foreign investments but especially to avoid these flows of refugees or immigrants. If the socioeconomic conditions were gathered, if these countries had a sustainable policy in favour of the citizen, job opportunities and a strategy of effective redistribution of wealth, we would not certainly be there! It is thus urgent that the continent, which aspires to emergence, begins to emphasize the human development. Why leave when one feels at home and cared about? Finally, let us not forget that these refugees are the visible face of the iceberg, but what about all those who cannot leave, who are in a total precariousness and thus vulnerable to terrorism and to crimes of any kind? Today, we think that the priority for the African Union ( AU), should be to set up a mechanism of fight against this massive illegal immigration then to dismantle the networks which are associated to it. The priority for the member states of the AU, has to be: the redistribution of the wealth, the emergence of a strong middle class, more jobs and a national attractiveness.

3/ The military empowerment: the North / South military cooperation is in a permanent imbalance. An imbalance widely in favour of the most advanced countries. The military-industrial complexes of these countries, are in a constant war of influence and economic warfare. The competition is rough to win markets with countries of the “South”, in search of stability and often little democratic. France, the United States, Israel and China, to quote only those, intervene either directly, thus officially (technical support, equipment, logistics, training, etc.), or indirectly, thus unofficially (covert operations, arms sales, discreet support for a regime, etc.). Every time, a common denominator: the economic interest, the regional positioning, etc. China has for example, a tradition of discreet arms sale, to regimes wishing to remain and undergoing rebellions. As for France, it operates openly in Mali for a certainly noble cause but obviously interested. The United States too, intervene discreetly in the training and the logistic backup, in particular in the fight against terrorism and regarding intelligence. The strategy of influence is thus very active in Africa on the military sector. The empowerment of the African countries regarding security and defence, should constitute a priority for their leaders. How to create the conditions of a credible national defence, a capacity to defend oneself only then within a coalition? The example of Ivory Coast is edifying on this question of the autonomy. Indeed, by creating with the support of France, an Institute of Strategic Studies and Defence, Ivory Coast makes a commitment on the ground of regional training, thus capacity building. Capacity building, is the basis of empowerment in the sector of security and defence. The African Union and the sub-regional organizations, should urgently, accelerate their reflections on the strategic autonomy which would allow the African to assume without complex , their security on the continent. We suggest that the African countries, actually emphasize training and equipment. All this, that must obey a precise and coherent sequencing. These countries, should formulate national security policies, laws of military and security programming and by effectively implementing them. Finally it would be useful for some African countries, not able for multiple reasons to aspire to military autonomy, to consider the example of Costa Rica, which chose to have no army but a strong police. To ensure its national defence, Costa Rica signed a military agreement with the United States, which are ready to intervene if needed. This measure allowed Costa Rica to dedicate its budget to education, environment, training, research and tourism. Costa Rica is not thus autonomous militarily but it is an emerging country.

These three security related issues are only a tiny part of the challenges facing Africa. The continent presents in spite of all the troubles which it faces, indicators favorable to its emergence, such as the massive investments. It is important that the African leaders meet around a table, to review all the challenges of the continent and bring it viable, inclusive and coherent solutions, once and for all. By putting in the center of this collective reflection, ” the African citizen “. To resume Antonio Gramsci’s quotation, it will be a matter for the African leaders “to ally the pessimism of the mind with the optimism of the will “.




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