President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that even though Ghana currently enjoys relative peace and security, the country cannot deem herself immune to terrorism.
Addressing the maiden Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra under the theme: ‘Peace Operations in the Context of Violent Extremism in Africa’, President Akufo-Addo said the incidents of 2015, which saw agents of the so-called Islamic State succeed in recruiting a few attendees from the country's university campuses to join the group's fighters in Libya and Syria, as well as the joining of IS by two Germans of Ghanaian parentage, should inform the measures the country ought to put in place to deal with terrorism threats to her territorial integrity.
"Despite being a beacon of peace, stability and democracy in a region that is plagued by the activities of terrorists and extremist groups, Ghana must know she cannot be immune [to] terror attacks. She is determined, however, to deepen the religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence that exist between the majority Christian and the minority Muslim religious groups in the country. They are the hallmarks of our nation, which we cherish," President Akufo-Addo said.
He indicated that last year, security agencies in Ghana had to disrupt the activities of some groups who purported to raise funds for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, which turned out to be a fundraising for terror-related activities.
The Three Point Agenda
As part of efforts aimed at dealing with the growing incidents of terrorist attacks in Africa, the President proposed a three-point agenda for the consideration of the forum, indicating that the quest to deal with terrorism cannot be limited to just military means, as vital as they are.
Broader policies, the President said, must be put in place to create opportunities and jobs for the youth, if Ghana is to deal successfully with the root causes of terrorism.
Focusing on education, the President said: "We have, as a matter of great urgency, to ensure education for all the youth of the continent. We are told that eighty-nine million young Africans of school-going age are not in school. That has to stop and stop now," President Akufo-Addo said.
The structural transformation of the economies of African countries, and good governance in the nation states of Africa, the President said, are the two other urgent challenges African leaders must endeavor to meet.
For her part, the widow of the late UN Secretary-General, Nane Annan, in a brief remark, indicated that there is the urgent need to align the peace of the African continent to its much-needed development. The leadership, vision and actions of African leaders, going forward, she added, will play a very pivotal role in guaranteeing the peace and security of the African continent.
"Your leadership, action and vision can play an important role in addressing violent extremism and building a peaceful Africa. As my late husband often said: ‘There is much more in this world that unites us than there is that divides us’,” Nane Annan said.
UN Special Representative
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel and Head of the UN office for West Africa and Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, in his goodwill message, urged African countries to be one another's keeper if the fight against terrorism is to be won.
"I would like to reiterate that the nature of the threat posed by violent extremism compels us to collectively renew and redouble our efforts while remaining engaged and determined that it can and will be defeated. Success can only be achieved if we defeat both the terrorist and terrorism. This will require continued, collective action in line with the true African tradition of helping to put out the fire in the neighbours’ house before it reaches yours," Dr Chambas said.
The KAPS Forum
The Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum, also known as the KAPS Forum is a flagship initiative by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in collaboration with the Federal Government of Germany and the Government of Norway. The KAPS Forum is an annual international platform that brings together top-level political leaders, diplomats and experts to dialogue and share ideas on the most critical evolving peace and security trends on the African continent.
The Forum was established in memory of H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations who dedicated the best part of his life to the cause of global peace and security. KAPS Forum is also being instituted to recognize the role of former African presidents who led their respective countries to undergo major democratic reforms, as well as supporting global and regional security efforts, especially by providing peacekeepers who risk their lives in dangerous conflict theatres in order to bring peace to the world.