African Security and Counter-Terrorism Summit gets underway


The growing threat of jihadist terrorism, organised crime, and other African security challenges will be examined at a high-level conference, which begins in London this morning. The second annual Africa Security and Counter-Terrorism Summit is bringing together officials from African armed forces and intelligence agencies and representatives from the European Union, United Nations, and donor countries.

The conference comes at a time of both rising security problems across the continent and increased investor interest in Africa as a new growth frontier.

The two day conference will also allow specialist security, border and homeland security companies to show their wares to potential buyers from the continent. Among the sponsors are American Science and Engineering, AS&E, manufacturers of X-ray equipment for use at borders and ports. Cristanini CBRN, which provides decontamination systems, Verint, an intelligence solutions company, and Plasan, which produces vehicle armour.

This morning, delegates will receive a briefing from Federal Government of Somalia’s Minister of National Security, Abdulaahi Mohamed Ali on the threat posed by Al Shabaab to the region and the role of charcoal sanctions in squeezing its finances. Later this morning African commanders will be part of a panel discussion on the African led mission in the Central African Republic. There is also a panel talk on the need for greater capacity in tackling ebola and other chemical and biological threats.

The role of African traditional institutions in managing threats of terrorism and insurgency, such as that from Boko Haram in Nigeria, will also be examined. In Northern Nigeria the Kano Emirate Council, which brings together traditional rulers in the state, is increasingly working with security agencies in fighting terrorism.

Ways in which extremist groups could take advantage of historical and ongoing local disputes and grievances will also be discussed at the conference. Questions before the panel on this topic include what counter-measures and pre-emptive action might be taken to prevent local disputes being exploited by extremist groups. Another issue is how the radicalization of youth might be curbed in circumstances of rapid population growth and high rates of unemployment.

The role of regional co-operation in fighting transnational crime and terrorism and hostage support and recovery are also on the agenda.

There are also planned conference sessions on improved border and airport security to face up to the changing nature of threats. A presentation on intelligence and border protection will be given by a Verint representative and one on personnel security by an official from Standard Chartered Bank.

Other sessions will be held on maritime security and the energy industry and piracy off East and West Africa.