Stronger inter-agency collaboration among state security agencies needed to reduce violent extremism in West Africa—Maj Gen Ofori
The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Major General Francis Ofori, has stressed that more effort has to be made to reinforce the cooperative engagements amongst state security agencies, given the increasing pressure along the northern borders of Ghana, Benin, Togo and Cote d’Ivoire.
He said this during the opening ceremony of the second Regional Workshop dubbed “Assessing the Effectiveness of Inter-Agency Collaboration to Counter Extremist Threats in West Africa and the Sahel” which was held at Prampram.
The Commandant emphasized the lethality and recurrence of extremist and militant attacks with the indiscriminate targeting of civilian and military targets as particularly disturbing.
He further mentioned that the expansion of the activities of extremists with its current geographic focus shifting to coastal states in West Africa, as well as the vulnerabilities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic should galvanize the leveraging of the roles of local communities and other civil society actors in reducing such extremist threats.
He added that “this is because the threats posed by violent extremism is structurally embedded in both state and regional security complexes. As such, it is unlikely that any single state in the region can address the challenge alone.”
The Commandant also highlighted the expected outcomes of the three-day program, which was a follow-up to an earlier workshop held in 2019 at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Kumasi. This second workshop was to document progress made so far in countering violent extremism in the targeted countries, with particular focus on how networks, connections and information sharing among state and other agencies has shaped on-going responses to violent extremism in the West Africa sub-region since 2019.
The Commandant expressed profound gratitude to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government for their support and contributions towards the 3 day workshop.
His Excellency Gregory Andrews, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, who was also the Special Guest of Honour stated that extremism takes a toll on the economies and development of affected countries, and negatively impacts vulnerable groups like women and children.
He emphasized that inter-agency collaboration between countries is indispensable to countering the menace. He added that one of the compelling reasons why Australia has had minimal incidences of violence extremism is due to strong co-operative and collaborative engagements between agencies. He added that lax and porous border controls in Africa, unfortunately, contributes to terrorist activities in the region.
He encouraged participants to make the three days count by sharing their experiences and ideas on ways to way to deepen inter-agency efforts to forestall and mitigate violent extremism.
Also present at the opening ceremony were the Director of the Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research (FAAR), Prof. Kwesi Aning, the Director of Training, Col Paul Tanye-Kulono, and the Deputy Director of FAAR, Dr Emma Birikorang.
The three-day Regional workshop will create space for participants to deliberate on progress made so far in countering violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahel, and assess the effectiveness of inter-agency collaboration and information sharing to stem violent extremism in the region.
About the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre:
The Ghana Ministry of Defence (MoD) established the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in 1998 and commissioned it in 2004. The purpose was to build upon and share Ghana's five decades of internationally acclaimed experience and competence in peace operations with other states in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region and the rest of Africa.
This was in recognition of the need for training military, police and civilian men and women to meet the changing demands of multidimensional peace operations. The Centre is one of the three (3) Peacekeeping Training Centres of Excellence mandated by the ECOWAS to offer training in peacekeeping and peace support operations (PSO) in Africa.
The Centre delivers training courses in three thematic areas; Peace Support Operations, Conflict Management and Peace and Security Studies and also runs Masters and PhD programmes in same.
The KAIPTC has a world-class research department that undertakes research in the thematic areas in Peace and Security.
Located in Accra, Ghana, the KAIPTC is an internationally recognized institution and has to date trained and tutored over 21, 496 participants and students since its inception.
KAIPTC is a gender-sensitive organization and committed to gender equality. Following the launch of its gender policy in 2014, the Centre has mainstreamed gender into its policies and programmes and integrates same in its focal areas, namely training, research and postgraduate education.
The Centre has developed a Sexual Harassment policy and fully oriented employees on same. It has also provided a Nursing and Childcare Centre and instituted a paternity leave policy, all with the aim to create a conducive work environment at KAIPTC.