Ill-equipped and ill-trained African peacekeeping forces are at best only able to contain ever increasing security challenges in conflict areas in Africa, leaving the wider region at risk of growing instability and economic decline, according to one of the continent’s leading industrialists.
Ivor Ichikowitz – whose company Paramount Group provides peacekeeping solutions, equipment and training to defence forces across the continent – has called for a new solution to peacekeeping, with Africa’s defence industry and governments cooperating to establish Africa as a centre for peacekeeping excellence in a bid to effectively resolve conflicts and stimulate good governance, industrial development and economic growth.
His comments come as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for greater support for African Union troops serving in Somalia and argued that AU troops should receive the same support as UN personnel. During a recent special UN Security Council debate on the war in Somalia African states also raised their complaints about its troops getting poorer treatment than those on mainstream UN missions.
Mr Ichikowitz made his observations to coincide with the African Security and Advanced Technology Summit which started in Nairobi today, where Paramount Group is the main sponsor.
He said: “We support the call by the UN Secretary General for African peacekeeping missions to receive the same level of support as western missions. I urge the global defence industry to support his call.
“African peacekeepers are deployed in some of the most dangerous environments, such as Somalia and Darfur. It is unacceptable to commit them to such dangerous and complex missions without full training, logistical support and equipment – which I fear is the current situation.
“This must change, but that will require a new approach to peacekeeping and security.
“African nations need to start working together more closely on security policy and pooling their resources. We need to turn peacekeeping into a continental project where states co-ordinate, procure and manufacture equipment locally in order to address regional security threats.
“This approach will be more financially manageable and will also foster multilateral co-operation, support local economies and provide greater capacity for independent AU operations.
“Most importantly, this isn’t a pipedream. Africa already has the technology, the skills and the production capacity to deliver world-class peacekeeping solutions that meet every requirement of modern and professional peacekeeping forces. We don’t need to look outside Africa for this capability, we already have it right here. We have a home-grown solution that is affordable for African states and perfectly aligned to their immediate and long-term needs. ”
The African Security and Advanced Technology Summit brings together leading governments, the United Nations, industry and think tanks to deliberate on the future of African Security.
Mr Ichikowitz continued: “The Paramount Group is a technology asset for Africa and we are keen to share our innovations in the areas of industrial development, armoured vehicle technology, personnel training and innovative financing to build the capacity that is required to meet the peacekeeping needs of Africa.
“The time is right to adopt this approach and actively pursue the development of a world-leading peacekeeping competence and all its associated benefits including technology transfer, job creation and skills and economic development.”
He concluded: “If Africa is to enter a new era of peace, stability and development then it must address threats to instability head on. If this doesn’t happen, if we continue to rely on outsiders, then terrorism, uncontrolled migration and civil war will continue to destabilize Africa, undermining the good governance, institution building and economic development that is crucial to our peaceful future. This new approach can break the current impasse in peacekeeping.”
About Paramount Group
The Paramount Group was founded in 1994 and works with governments around the world in matters of peacekeeping, defence and internal securities. As the largest privately owned group of defence companies in Africa, Paramount serves sovereign governments worldwide. The company develops and designs solutions to tackle peacekeeping, defence, and internal security problems, and seeks to expand its manufacture of armoured vehicles worldwide. Solutions range from camp systems, logistic equipment, and personal protection gear, as well as crowd control equipment, communication technologies and armoured MPVs.
For further information please contact:
Nico De Klerk
+44 (0)20 7861 2509
+44 (0)20 7861 2859