Participants at the just-concluded National Security Symposium 2017 have highlighted the need for African problems to be owned by Africans themselves as a means to ensure peace and sustainable development on the continent.
The three-day symposium held at Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College in Musanze District was marked by research paper presentations and interactive discussions from various experts from the African continent.
The general observation was that African countries need to cultivate strong cooperation and collaboration in order to effectively deal with internal conflicts, armed groups, terrorism and other challenges that has blighted Africa for years.
“I am confident that the topics that have been discussed here, the vast knowledge and experience shared by the various speakers have definitely added on the package students will take home from this college,” said Defence Minister Gen James Kabarebe while closing the symposium on Wednesday.
“The ideas and strategies devised during this symposium constitute a good basis for further research and actions towards addressing security issues in our respective countries and areas of responsibility”, he added.
The symposium is part of course five at the College that benefitted 47 students from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
During the three days, course participants had an opportunity to interact with high level policy makers, security experts at strategic and operational levels, subject-matter experts and scholars in security studies.
On the closing day, two key topics were on the agenda;
For the first topic, ministers Kabarebe and Louise Mushikiwabo of Foreign Affairs together with Daniel Fred Kidega, Speaker of the East Africa Legislative Assembly discussed with participants on repositioning Africa as an equal partner in international affairs.
The other topic had the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete and Francis Gatare the CEO of Rwanda Mining and Petroleum Board who gave an insight on Africa’s journey towards aid-free economy, as a prerequisite for sustainable peace, security and development.
Other topics discussed in previous days included eradicating armed groups in the Great Lakes Region: challenges and way forward; UN Peace Support Operations assessment; contemporary approaches to fighting terrorism; cyber security as well as climate change and its implications for Africa’s security and development.
Speaking on behalf of the students, Lt Col H Chilenga from Malawi said that the symposium had broadened their knowledge on how they would safeguard their respective countries and the continent by extension.