Africa in Action: Tailoring security to real needs and threats
Rome, 8 – 9 May 2018
Africa is often misunderstood by external perceptions scarcely connected with the reality of an emerging continent. The message of the actual chairman of the African Union talks about other priorities instead: youth unemployment and empowerment; civic engagement and political participation; engaging the corporate sector in on job training and philanthropy; harnessing the demographic dividend; migrants and voluntary repatriation; gender empowerment; regional integration; the negative connection between corruption, socio-economic progress and security.
In other words, security is in the picture, but not as a stand-alone precondition vis-à-vis other fundamentals, but concretely as ancillary and tailored facilitator for parallel positive processes. If one looks at a conflict map of the continent between 2016 and 2017 and takes into account the most lethal conflicts (1.000+ casualties), only two countries are affected (Tunisia and RDC). At 100 casualties the whole of North Africa is involved (except Morocco) and a quadrangle comprised between Nigeria, Somalia, Mozambique and RDC/Republic of Congo. Moreover, most of these conflicts are rather localised in specific regions. The rests are less visible criminal networks and banditry hotspots that contribute much more than terrorism in hampering the development of the continent.
In this picture dominated by non-traditional conflicts, major potential military capability providers are (in order) Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Angola, Ethiopia, South Africa and Nigeria, but top five troop contributors to African peace support operations are Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. This indicates at a continental level a mismatch in interests and contributions because a common vision of Africa security is still fledgeling in the African Union on the backdrop of three capitals that are still considered possible Africa-wide leaders, i.e. Cairo, Abuja and Pretoria.
Adding to this already complex backdrop the interventions of external countries and/or international organisations it appears clear that a shared redefinition of peace support operations in conceptually needed to maximise the impact on conflict containment and resolution.