“One of the greatest threats to our democracy has to be the proliferation and sophistication of terrorist networks in Africa,” President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has told the US Institute of Peace (USIP).
President Akufo-Addo, two and a half weeks after participating in the 78th United Nations General Assembly, arrived in Washington, DC, on 12 October to engage with US Ambassador Johnnie Carson on an array of issues, with a primary focus on the escalating threat of terrorism in the West African region.
At the USIP, Akufo-Addo said terrorists “should not only be a source of great concern to the continent of Africa, [but] they should also be of concern to the rest of Europe.” Explaining the current state of affairs in West Africa, he went on to say, “even more concerning, is the fact that these terrorist groups are evolving by the day is a scramble to control more territories and natural resources, especially in peripheral communities where the lack of effective state presence and control creates conditions for…ultimately, radicalization. Africa has become the centre of attraction for terrorist groups which are multiplied in the region.”
Urging US backing, and global support, he said “the resources dedicated to counterterrorism have to match the resources available to the terrorist groups; the menace caused by terrorism such that we must share the burden of the fight.”
“Comparisons, they say, are odious, but some cannot be ignored. The Russian war on Ukraine has elicited, according to my information, some $73.6 billion in American support for Ukraine, $138.8 billion from the European Union and its Institutions, and $14.5 billion from the United Kingdom,” he said, adding, “on the other hand, the security assistance from the US, the EU and the UK to ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] have, in total, in the same period, amounted to $29.6 million.”
With adequate assistance provided to ECOWAS, he expressed confidence that it was possible to drive terrorists out of West Africa and the Sahel region without the need for foreign military intervention. On ECOWAS, he was certain that the terrorists “can be chased out of West Africa and the Sahel too. Foreign troops would not have to be involved. West African troops can do the job. The Accra Initiative is a good example of indigenous self-help.”
Akufo-Addo said that ECOWAS plays a pivotal role in promoting democracy and regional development and highlighted its commitment to democratic values and its vigilance in addressing challenges in member states.
When asked by Carson why the world outside of West Africa should care about coups in Africa, Akufo-Addo stressed the interconnectedness of world affairs and the impact on global migration and stability, underscoring the necessity of international support. He mentioned that conflict and terrorism, coupled with climate change, have impacted the stability of democratic institutions. These challenges, particularly terrorism, have accelerated the spread of extremist groups in the region.
Ghana’s president added that the United States needs to be a stronger partner in Africa, particularly in the fight against terrorism and promoting development.
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based foreign correspondent and media commentator with expertise on US foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe