23 January 2020 - 25 January 2020

Security in Africa in a changing world: building the necessary partnerships and capabilities

Chair: HE Hailemariam Desalegn

In cooperation with the Brenthurst Foundation


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Terms of Reference

Aims of the discussion

Achieving and sustaining basic security and building the rule of law underpins all sustainable development, as well as being essential to delivering basic safety, security and confidence to citizens’ lives. It is hoped that this conference will catalyse cooperation between governments and other relevant actors on security and that further annual meetings will follow in Africa to bring the right stakeholders and experts together for regular strategic dialogue.

We will address, in particular, the impact of global trends on the following challenges:

Countering violent extremism

What kinds of approaches to violent extremism are working best? Where have there been successes from which we can learn? How can we best combine action by NGOs, government departments and the Police to prevent radicalisation if possible and to counter it, if not? Are we using the military too much – are the right agencies involved? How can we best handle radicalised former fighters? Do we have the right data? Are we able to share it and under what safeguards? How can technology help and what are the threats from technology? How can Africa develop African solutions? How can international partners best support African solutions? What security and military aid and development is needed?

Management of migration

To what extent is migration an increasing problem? Where and how is absorbing migration becoming a critical issue for African states? How can African states and partners best mitigate migration from failed states? To what extent are violent extremism and organised crime complicated by migration and vice versa? Are the right agencies and partners involved and how can coordination be improved? Do we have the right data, and can it be shared appropriately? How can technology help and how is technology making matters worse? How can Africa develop African solutions on migration? How can international partners best support African solutions? How can targeted aid and development help?

Countering organised crime

To what extent is organised crime fostering violent extremism and uncontrolled migration through people trafficking? How can cooperation and coordination between African states on organised crime be improved? What are the best African solutions available on containing corruption so as to support the rule of law and reduce violence? Are the right agencies involved and how can coordination between them be improved? Is there scope for cross-state cooperation on the law on organised crime? Do we have the right data, and can it be shared appropriately? How can technology help and how is technology making matters worse? How can Africa develop African solutions? How can international partners best support African solutions? How can targeted aid and development help?

The Context

Africa faces multiple challenges that may converge in unpredictable ways to increase pressure on security.

Demography. The population of many African states is set to rise sharply. Providing water, food and hope of development for the hundreds of millions to come may put states and systems under strain. This could drive increased migration from one country to another, especially from south to north, creating new challenges for security. Failure to deliver economic development and the promise of better lives for burgeoning populations could drive more people to extremism, banditry and crime. At the same time, Africa will remain young as populations in other continents, including China, age. This may yet bring new opportunities but seizing these will demand provision of education and the building of institutions. How can we best deliver security with rapidly increasing populations?

Climate change. Experts predict significantly reduced agricultural productivity across central Africa. More extreme and more frequent storms, floods and droughts are likely. Food and water security could be major drivers of instability and migration. Are the likely effects of climate change being factored into security planning?

Urbanisation. Africa will increasingly be an urban continent. Traditional social structures and access to home grown food will be weakened by the move to the cities. Extremism may be incubated in the sprawling shanty towns of the future unless city development keeps pace. On the upside, family size tends to reduce once people move to the city, slowing demographic growth. How ready are the military, security agencies and police for rapid urbanisation? What can be done to scale capabilities as cities grow, avoiding the emergence of ungoverned spaces in cities?

The impact of connectivity, AI and automation on the global economy. Increasingly, manufacturing is going to be carried out by robots in automated factories whether those factories are in the West, in China or in Africa. The root to development pursued in the Far East – capitalising on a relatively low cost of labour to manufacture increasingly complex products, moving from T-shirts to iPhones – may not be available for African countries in the future. At the same time, Africans are all going to be connected to the Internet and this may open up new avenues for African talent in the global economy. How can security actors support and benefit from the new economy and new capabilities?

Geostrategic competition. China has worked hard and invested greatly in Africa to secure sources of raw materials but also to build markets and trading partners and China has become the premier partner for some African states. The US, the UK and the EU have also delivered significant aid and developed important security relationships in Africa. It is not yet clear how the growing rivalry between the US and China will play out in Africa and other continents. Will states be forced to choose between one bloc or another? What impact will this have on security strategy, rule of law frameworks and capabilities?

Cyber. Africa as a continent risks being a battlefield for cyber warfare without significant cyber defence or deterrence capabilities of its own. How vulnerable are African states to criminal, terrorist and state cyber capabilities and how can this be addressed? What is the impact on security capability more broadly?

Data and privacy. The spread of Internet connectivity and digital services across the continent is going to deliver the same deluge of data seen elsewhere. How ready are security actors to make best use of this data for analysis and are the right frameworks in place to support the rule of law, privacy and the appropriate sharing of data and knowledge between countries?