Africa leaders must heed el-Sisi's call for a special force to battle terrorism

The proposal by Egypt for the formation of a special African force to battle terrorists has come at the right.

It comes when a good number of countries on the continent-- in the north, east, west and even south--are grappling with the ever ballooning problem of terrorism.

In East Africa, Kenya has suffered the most following its decision to send troops to Somalia in 2011. Since then the country has suffered sporadic Al Shabaab attacks, some which have claimed many lives.

They include the Garissa University attack which left 147 people dead, Westgate in which 67 people were killed and dusitD2 hotel attack where 21 lives were lost. Uganda too has been a victim of Al Shabaab attack.

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Although our security agencies have made spirited efforts which have seen attacks in the city reduce, the terrorists still inflict damage mostly on Kenyan regions bordering Somalia.

Elsewhere, Libya just like Somalia, has become a playground for terrorists. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is still riding roughshod over innocent citizens. Only three days ago, the militia killed at least 30 people in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno region and also abducted others. Mali has been fighting Al Qaeda-linked terrorists for some time now. The militia killed 20 soldiers in an attack on an army camp last month.

Egypt is battling the Islamic State. Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Central African Republic Cameroon, Djibouti, Burkina Faso and Sudan, among others, are also grappling with terrorism.

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No, terrorism is not an isolated problem for Kenya. It is an Africa-wide problem. It is a global problem.

That's why Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's call for an African force to deal with the problem is timely, if not belated.

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If anything, African countries already know the importance of joining forces in the fight against terrorism. That is why six countries, Kenya included, are fighting Al Shabaab inside Somalia under African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

However, it is not clear yet what kind of a force el-Sisi wants mooted. This is because besides Amisom, the continent has the African Standby Force (ASF), which was constituted to deal with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in any of the African Union member countries.

It is worth considering whether this force should be given special training and deployed to take on the terrorists as it has never been sent to any mission since it was established in 2003. That, however, is a decision for the African Union to make.

Even as they plan for a joint force, African states must put more emphasis on intelligence gathering, as Kenya has. This is because terrorism is not like a conventional warfare where you always come face to face with your enemy--infiltrating their cells is key.

All in all, Africa must listen to el-Sisi's voice of reason; our leaders must quickly put their heads together and find ways of dealing with terrorism. The faster this is done, the better.

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EgyptEast AfricaAfrican leaders