A three-day national security symposium opened, yesterday, at the Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College in Musanze District with contemporary security challenges in Africa on the agenda of discussion.
The symposium is part of course five at the College to benefit 47 students from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
The symposium is looking into contemporary approaches to fighting terrorism and challenges, climate change and its implications for Africa’s security and development.
Other areas of discussion are strategies and challenges in eradicating armed groups in the Great Lakes region, cyber security as national security imperative, assessment of UN peace support operations for its success, its failures and way forward.
Officiating at the opening session, Defence minister James Kabarebe said the symposium is an opportunity to bring together academic setting, national security practitioners, scholars, analysts and students to deal with subjects of national, regional and global importance.
“National security is a pillar and foundation for all our countries’ development. As countries engage in diplomatic and security operations, our partnerships could have no threats. That is why we are members of United Nations, African Union and other regional organisations that have the political and legal framework to address regional and security challenges,” he said.
Many African countries have persistently experienced security problems such as armed groups, conflicts, terrorism and governance as well as crimes such as drugs, human trafficking. All these require appropriate response mechanisms from within Africa itself, he added.
Maj Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, the commandant of the college, said the annual symposium helps students to understand the security situation worldwide and take measures when they are back to their country.
“As Africans, we are thinking of our security by analysing what causes problems in our continent and seek solutions,” he said.
Gen Kazura added that the symposium is also part of fifth anniversary of the Staff College since its inauguration in 2012, stressing that some lessons will be extracted to inform various researchers and students in their future assignment.
Lt Col Like Like, one of the students from Zambia, said the security aspects of every situation have to be understood.
“We learnt how to manage situations before they escalate because as military we have to provide leadership and direction where it is required,” he said.
Approach against terrorism
Nigerian army chief commander, Lt Gen Tukur Yuzuf Buratai, one of the panelists, observed that leadership challenges can cause failure in fighting terrorism.
“Several factors such as ethnic, political, religious groups are attributed to forming terrorism. However, leadership is key at all levels as well as compliance, coordination in fighting against terrorism. Other challenges in combating terrorism is under-development in some areas. Together with fighting that, there is need of developing special forces and well equipped troops across Africa to fight terrorists,” he said.