Security in Africa: Structural challenges are reaching crisis point

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The latest report from Think Security assesses changes in Africa’s security situation between 2013 and 2014 in three main categories: (1) Challenges impacting the national chain of command, (2) Maintaining territorial integrity, and (3) Societal management.

The key findings of the report, which use graphs, infographics and maps as visual aids, is that African countries are increasingly struggling to maintain territorial integrity.

In 2014, ten African governments were competing with non-state groups for territorial control, which represents more than a fifty percent increase from last year.

What has made the problem worse in 2014 is that non-state groups are no longer making demands, they are just going ahead and establishing fiefdoms, indicative of a decline of governmental capacity vis-à-vis non-state actors.
There was also a substantial rise in the number of countries impacted by border and maritime security challenges, indicative of a growing structural problem that is regional in scope.

Although the report noted a decrease in the number of countries experiencing challenges in relation to managing national chains of command and society, the sharp decline in the overall ability of African government’s to maintain territorial integrity offset improvements in those areas.

The result was a sharp rise in the number of countries impacted by conflict. Between 2013 and 2014 the number of African governments impacted by serious conflict rose from seven to ten.

‘The key to improving security in Africa, and improving the ability of governments to maintain territorial integrity, is to ensure that improvements in the number of countries impacted by serious chain of command-related challenges are sustained in 2015. However, with elections in several fragile states due to occur this year, this is going to be difficult, ‘ says Adunola Abiola, founder of Think Security Africa.

2014 also saw a rise in maritime disputes in Africa with a number of cases referred to the international court of justice including one Kenya and Somalia as well as another between Ghana and Cote D’Ivore. Another between Tanzania and Malawi over their mutual boundary within Lake Niassa/Malawi remained unresolved.

In the various inter and intra country conflicts there were a number of resource related conflicts including South Sudan and Libya where there is ongoing civil war whereas boundary conflicts in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Malawi are also fuelled by the potential oil and gas reserves in the contested areas.
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Author: Samuel Kamau Mbote

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