A Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Akwasi Opong-Fosu, has called on the African Union (AU) to promote diversity and inclusiveness in governance and resource distribution in its member countries.
He said in doing so, African countries would be embracing and drawing on the strength and creativity of diverse groups to promote national cohesion, peace and stability.
Mr Opong-Fosu made the call when he delivered a paper on “Crisis Arc of Central Africa and Sahelo-Saharan Regions: Conflicts and Emergent Threat,” at the 10th Africa Security Forum held in Marrrakech, Morocco, on February 9 and 10, 2019.
The forum, which was on the theme; “Building the security of the future for Africa,” was hosted by the Moroccan Centre for Strategic Studies in partnership with African Federation for Strategic Studies.
Mr Opong-Fosu noted that the creation of nation-states on the continent by colonial powers did not take into account the diverse cultural identities that existed.
“Thus, the starting point to sustainable peace and security architecture is to promote the concept of unity in diversity as well as inclusiveness in governance and resource distribution,” he emphasised.
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Mr Opong-Fosu said Africa had over the years faced governance challenges including identity politics and the patronage and personalisation of political power.
“There has also been the pervasive lack of state capacity to deliver on its mandate, including the security and well-being of citizens, access to basic needs and employment opportunities.
“The sum total is inequality, mistrust, conflict and insecurity. And as you are all aware, security is both critical to the attainment as well as a pre-condition for sustainable development.
Evidence abounds that where high levels of insecurity exists, peaceful co-existence is compromised and socio-economic development takes a downturn,” he told his audience.
Touching on arms proliferation, the former minister said the Central Africa and Sahelo-Saharan regions have notoriously been a hub, with extremist groups and transnational criminals taking advantage of the porous borders and limited capacity of the states to perpetrate illegal activities.
“Central Africa and the Sahelo-Saharan region have huge potential for sustainable development.
This is, however, undermined by governance challenges, conflict and insecurity with spillover effects portending serious threats to other neighbouring regions in Africa, Europe and Asia,” he said.
In that connection, he proposed three key approaches to securing sustainable security and stability in the regions.
They included the promotion of diversity and inclusion in governance, coordinated approach to a comprehensive security strategy and enhanced role for key players in North Africa.
While appreciating efforts by the AU, the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations at addressing the security challenges in the Central Africa and Sahelo-Saharan regions, there appeared to be competition instead of cooperation among the actors.
He stressed the need for a coordinated approach as against competing policies, programmes and strategies in tackling the challenge.
Besides, he said the strategic roles by key players such as Morocco and Algeria towards influencing security and stability in Central Africa and the Sahelo-Saharan regions needed to be recognised as part of international efforts at fostering security and stability.