The security environment in Africa has changed rapidly over the past two years.
Previously, African security had been defined by piracy and the protection of resources but whilst these challenges still remain, the overall threat environment has become more diverse. Africa is now facing new challenges from terrorism and the proliferation of organised crime, the result of which is probably the world's worst human security crisis currently occurring off the coast of North Africa in the Mediterranean as 100s of migrants are put in danger every day. African states and organisations are aware that they need to adapt their requirements to these changes, if they are going to overcome these threats.
Maritime security is still at the forefront of Africa’s agenda. In recent years the transatlantic drug trade has been flourishing, with contraband being smuggled from Latin America to West Africa and from thereon, thus acting as a gateway into Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In some states, this trade has become so prevalent that it poses a big threat to government control. The escalation of maritime piracy in both the Gulf of Guinea and along the Eastern coast has also exposed limited levels of maritime domain awareness in some regions as organised criminal and militant groups operate successfully.
It is evident that maritime security threats cannot be addressed by states individually, but only by enacting cohesive regional cooperation. While progress has been made – with key milestones such as the Djibouti and Gulf of Guinea Codes of Conduct – more commitment and resources are needed if plans to combat maritime threats are to be fully realised.
African states have boosted spending and defence budgets to address certain capability gaps. Their aims include increasing overall capacity, improving strategic capability and operational effect on these challenging mission types. Repairing and refurbishing existing assets has been the traditional approach to maintaining platforms and keeping up-to-date. However, more recently governments have intensified their efforts by becoming more proactive in COTS procurement and industry engagement. The ultimate ambition will be to leverage a growing economy to support indigenous industry.
Whilst Africa remains a place of strategic importance for the International Community, African Nations have to become increasingly independent. A transition plan is therefore needed to help states take control, buy assets and work collaboratively. The conference will promote regional cooperation and raise awareness of key security challenges and outstanding requirements across Africa. The symposium will act as a platform to share information and experiences, as well as help find viable solutions to current and future threats.
In order to achieve this, AFSEC 2015 will bring together military services, chiefs of defence, diplomatic and foreign affairs professionals, law-enforcement authorities, and industry leaders from across the globe to discuss pan-African security challenges; with the primary objective of shaping future strategies and engaging with regional and international partners on these topical security matters.
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AFSEC 14 has been a great opportunity to exchange experiences with other staff from other countries and learn about the latest development from the technical and commercial side.Rear Admiral Cissoko CNS, Senegalese Navy