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Successfully implementing an integrated border management strategy 

Border challenges can be met

[19 March 2010, Johannesburg] - defenceWeb's border security conference has come and gone and by all accounts was a success. The event was well supported by industry as well as delegates and some top-notch speakers were heard.

Particularly interesting was a talk by Christine Bradley from the Canadian Border Services Agency, currently attached to the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria. The organisation, that combines immigration, customs, as well as border food and health regulation enforcement into one body could easily serve as a template for South Africa's putative Border Management Agency (BMA).

The BMA was something of the elephant in the room as the government speakers invited ad confirmed to speak on it withdrew shortly before the conference, citing, inter alia, the upcoming World Cup as reason. Perhaps, but it appears an almighty clash of ego and for turf is aging in the background. Until the dust settles or some more mighty potentate pronounces on some aspect of structure, budget, executive powers or mandate, officials will stay schtum (mum) less they say something career-limiting. Understandable really, but frustrating if you are hosting a conference on border security. Structure, mandate, budget and especially executive powers is the crux of the matter. Considering what one unofficially heard, a presidential intervention is urgently required.

Fascinating also was a talk by Frontex operations division director Klaus Rösler. Frontex is an European Union agency charged with coordinating and improving border security along the 27-nation body's outer periphery. The illegal migration of people from Africa to Europe is generally not receiving the attention it deserves, considering it involves human trafficking, organised crime, death on the high seas and the spectre of jihadist terrorism. It struck me that the African Union could use such an organisation to assist national governments and harmonise border control practice and law.

There was also some coffee-table talk about the SANDF's return to the country's land borders from next month (the military never relinquished responsibility for air and sea border control). The concept described includes attaching an battlefield surveillance and intelligence capability to infantry companies deployed along the border, using thermal imagers and ground radar to provide actionable information. It sound good and one looks forward to seeing it in action.

We are meanwhile coming up on our second Peacekeeping Africa conference.

More news from defenceWeb's Border Control Conference:
  • Border patrol requires back-up
    Effective border and maritime patrol and policing is meaningless if there is not plans and institutions in place to deal with the consequences. The Tshwane University of Technology's Henri Fouché says ...
  • Sea frontier overlooked in border debate
    The issue of maritime borders is often left out in discussions of border control, except insofar as maritime ports of entry are considered. “That is not safe. The entire coastline of a littoral country ...
  • Europe seeks closer cooperation on border security
    Europe is keen to step up border security cooperation with Africa. That was the message to defenceWeb's Border Control Africa conference from Klaus Rsler, Director of Operations at Frontex, the European ...
  • Aircraft make entire country a de facto air border
    The air space is often ignored when discussing border control issues. Depending on the size of a country, one could argue that the entire surface area is a de facto international border open to anyone ...

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