The 54th Munich Security Conference (MSC), a nexus for global geo-strategists, dedicated to promoting dialogue in security policy challenges, was held in Germany, from February 16-18, 2018. The forum was not only a disappointment for Africa, it made two things very clear.
One, unless the African ruling and opposition elites agree on how to add in order to form stable and representative governments; and how to resolve the curse of being Western followers, Africa will remain stuck in a geo-tactical trap.
As consequence, others will determine Africa’s strategic future. Second, the MSC discussions clearly revealed that the Western world is going through a period of uncertainty. They are unable and cannot collectively decide who they are and what they want to be in the global arena. As such, the Western world is not a solution, but part of Africa’s problem.
When the MSC panel discussions on Africa began, the moderator deliberately presented Africa as a sea of trouble. Alas, the tone had already been pre-set in the Munich Security Report 2018 under the banner, “Africa: The Young and the Restless”, with descriptions which reinforce the stereotype of Africa as a desperate continent with no future prospects.
The graphics in the report are colorful, all with negative headings which include: “The Risk of Famine in Sub-Saharan Africa; Africa’s Trend of Declining Financial Resources; Land and Sea Migration Routes towards Europe; The Rapid Decline of African Countries Revenues from Oil; Levels of Defense Spending in Sub-Saharan Africa; and Procurement Priorities of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Armed Forces.
Not surprising, all the worthy global leaders presented opening statements at the forum. No African leader was invited to give a keynote speech, despite the fact that Paul Kagame (President, Republic of Rwanda and Chairperson of African Union), graced the occasion; and the moderator for “Securing the Sahel” had claimed that Africa security is listed among the top ten risks of 2018.
But maybe I shouldn’t complain too much because China and South Korea who live next to a nuclear fire spitting dragon in North Korea were also left out.The main African delegation tackled the pre-set panel discussion on “Securing the Sahel”, a topic which represents US and EU agendas, because of the war on terrorism and illegal immigration. Many of us are aware that this is not the main threat to human security in Africa, because each year, malaria and traffic accidents kill many more people than terrorist acts on the continent.
Very senior African leaders were slotted as panellists in the “Securing the Sahel” panel discussion. Each was given five minutes to respond to a plethora of questions and warned that the five-minute time limit will be strictly enforced. It’s very inspiring to watch the video of Dr Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, making a passionate introduction to the African delegation. With the skills of a statesman, he narrates the story of South Korea rising from rags to riches, and highlights the numerous projects initiated by the WB to fill the space between war and peace.
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After he’s done, the moderator presents a pathetic concoction on Sahel, which is a mixture of fact, fiction, myth, and propaganda. She claims that Sahel presents some of the most important challenges facing the world today which include, terrorism, transnational organized crimes, poverty, famine, irregular immigration, and disease.
Throughout the discussions, Security policy relevant questions like, post-colonization conflict prevention and nation-state building, as opposed to ethno-state building designed by Western countries during the scramble for Africa, when 65 million Europeans migrated to Africa; or how can development in Africa be structured to provide local alternatives to internal and international migration are not raised.
Nonetheless, African leaders pointed out that, the ongoing military agendas in the Sahel are not connected to development agenda, the panacea for Africa’s insecurity. In consequence, tactical gains have not translated to long term sustainable goals. In addition, the fact that foreign troops operate in isolation raise the nagging question of what happened in Libya, and who is next.
Going forward, if we are going to formulate useful security policies for Africa, then we need to involve Africans who are conversant with African security needs. In addition, if Africa will require the support of foreign troops, then these should come from neutral and respectable countries like China and Korea which were not involved in African slave trade and colonization.
Mr. Kitau, First Kenyan Ambassador to The Republic of [email protected]