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.
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.