Africom: The security need for 21st century Africa

Africa is confronted with lack of internal security which becomes a deterrent force in the economic advancement of the continent. Capital flight and low foreign investment are the precipitates and ramification of the insecurity.

American government have set-up Africom – a military command for Africa, which is to secure peace and goodwill in Africa. Many African countries are skeptical of America’s real intention, fearing that Africom can become a tool to punish America’s foes in the region in the name of fighting terrorism. The unexpressed fear is that it could be used to control and manipulate internal policies and status quo of African nations.

Beyond the fundamental security motivation of the exercise: “For the U.S., however, AFRICOM will be more than a military exercise. Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it will feature a unique interagency mix (NPR), combining intelligence, diplomatic, health and aid experts. That suggests to many a more robust effort to fight AIDS and other diseases in Africa, to encourage democratic and market economic reforms, as well as to prevent states from collapsing and providing fertile ground for terrorists. Finally, Africa stands to play an increasingly important role as a supplier of oil to America (National Interest Online) over the next few decades, with some projecting that West Africa’s exports to the United States will outstrip the Middle East’s by 2015. “

Africa’s inability to advance economically like the rest of other continents is due to several fundamental reasons; among them is paucity of security infrastructures and apparatus. Africom can play a vital role in contributing to the stabilization of maritime life in Africa. The ships and cargoes transporting commodities and passengers must be able to conduct their businesses in a worry free environment.

The sum total of the African countries and African Union contingency plans for securing the territorial integrity of the continent is minimal and is not meeting up the requisite infrastructure needed to safe guard the continent. In the 21st century world there cannot be advancement in the economic development without adequate security that allow and guarantee passage of goods and services. Africa is beset with instability and ubiquitous intra and inters mêlée that makes trade and capitalism unattractive.

At the horn of Africa, the Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean are not making it easy for passage of ships and cargoes including passengers who have services and expertise to render to Africa. The Africa Union does not have any strategy to safeguard waters of Africa, nor does any African country have the resources and technical know-how to undertake such a complex and gigantic project. The waters of West African coast including Gulf of Guinea must be secured from armed militia and terrorists who are bent on obstructing oil production in the upstream oil drilling and exploration.

Africom can be a force for good because it can furnish the security infrastructures, manpower and technology needed to secure Africa from the danger of pirates and criminals that are making it difficult for normal conduct of maritime business. The resource and money that African countries have devoted and allocated for securing maritime peace can be used for other project in the continent. The point is that Africa will not relinquish her responsibility to Africom but work in concert with Africom in keeping Africa safe from criminal intruders, warmongers and terrorists.

When Africa does experience uncivil eruptions and disturbances that produce exothermic havoc including pogroms, massacre and holocaust in Rwanda, and the on going Sudan problem, Africa lacks the logistic capability to transport manpower to the danger point. Africom can be of great aide in such situation and can be become a combatant force to arrest ugly situations and developments that have the potential to escalate to a monstrous dimension that can demolish massive life and property like in Rwanda massacre.

When Africa achieved a quantifiable peace the flow of investment and capital becomes more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors which can halt capital flight. Africom can be a constructive partner in this endeavor without jeopardizing African territorial integrity.

The psychology of trust
It is said, “Once bitten, twice shy.” Africans cannot be blame for being skeptical about the latest development because of her antecedent history with outsiders. Slavery and colonialism legacy still permeates the continent’s reaction and psychology to new ideas and developments including the presence of Africom. But Africa cannot dwell in the past, for the time has come for Africa to seize new opportunity and take reasonable risk in order to further her interest and facilitate stability in her geopolitical landscape. Africa can be able to forge strategic alliance with America and Africom. All things being equal, America has done a lot of good things in Africa. United States is an exceptional nation in that she has no colonial ambition and can be a catalyst partner for economic development in Africa. The emergence of President Obama, an African America is exemplary of the goodwill to Africa which can encourage confidence building for Africans.

Freedom and prosperity
America has to work succinctly to assiduously allay their fears and show to Africans the benefits of Africom. This must be done with goodwill and civility while respecting African territorial integrity. Peace and tranquility are good for business for all the parties concerned which can be achieved through dialogue and understanding. To this end, American diplomats in Africa have to embark on thorough enlightenment campaign. Africa needs stability and quantifiable peace for economic progress and Africom can contribute to the endeavor.

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