Eastern African states must individually and collectively streamline peace and stability efforts if the region is to attain and even surpass the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the Africa Agenda 2063.
This is the surest way of achieving a baseline scenario of success, or the ‘Utopia scenario’ where Africa attains way above the Agenda 2063, becoming a continent that is a formidable competitor on the global stage with democratic, sustainable economies, with crime-and conflict-free societies.
According to the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Chair of Council, Amb. (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, this can be achieved when states embrace Africa Centric and homegrown conflict management models, adding that it is crucial to recognize that the region has indigenous peace-building mechanisms that are culturally sensitive in conflict management.
“These are the ‘African potentials for peace’. Thus, what can we borrow from the Mato Oput in Northern Uganda, Gacaca courts in post-genocide Rwanda, Ubuntu in South Africa, Shimiglina councils in Ethiopia, or the Guurti in Somalia? We must seek African solutions for African problems, because we understand the local dynamics. We cannot expect non-African actors and international institutions to lead us to the light,” postulated Amb. Maalim.
Amb. Maalim was speaking when he delivered the keynote address at the Global Centre for Policy and Strategy (GLOCEPS) Conference on Regional Peace and Security in Nairobi, Tuesday 24 May 2022.
The two-day conference, themed; ‘The Future of State Stability and Development in Eastern Africa’, sought to brainstorm on the emerging peace and security dynamics and policy actions to strengthen state stability and development.
The conference further explored continental and region-centric conflict management models relevant to state stabilization in Eastern Africa, and approaches to sustaining and accelerating policy research on state stabilization, peace and security interventions in the region.
While acknowledging that Eastern Africa has made tangible peace and prosperity efforts in the last few years, Amb. Maalim noted that the region continues to witness the proliferation of terror groups and intra-state conflicts, some emanating from questions of identity and belonging, the scramble for resources, while some fueled by geopolitical entities.
“This fragility has made the region vulnerable to cross border mobility of violent extremists and transnational criminal networks. If we do not proactively strategize on bringing stability in the region, all other efforts towards our respective national visions and the continental vision, Agenda 2063 will be undermined,” he averred.
Borrowing from the 2021 Africa Governance Report (AGR) which presented three scenarios of what Africa will look like in 2063, Amb. Maalim cautioned that Africa must avoid the ‘Dystopia scenario’, where Africa is defeated, with failed socio-economic and political systems. In such a scenario, conflict, poverty, hunger, violent extremism and poor governance would reign.
Amb. Maalim also urged for the strengthening of regional economic communities and the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as key drivers for greater stability.
On his part, GLOCEPS Executive Director, Brig (Rtd) Dr. Robert Kabage underscored the significance and timeliness of the conference, terming it a focal point and strategic link between experience and inter-disciplinary research, policy formulation and action.
“The outcomes of this conference will assist GLOCEPS to develop advisory opinions to policy makers across the region and beyond, within our mission of contributing to global peace and prosperity. It will further assist us to harvest new ideas that will promote our policy and action research agenda in security, diplomacy, and development,” he opined.
The conference brought together seasoned academics, analysts, diplomats, security experts, humanitarian actors, practitioners, policymakers, among others.
Besides his role at the helm of the JKUAT Council, Amb. Mahboub Maalim has previously served as a Kenyan diplomat, a rural development expert, and boasts an extensive experience in leadership and public service. He is the immediate and longest serving Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and has served as the Board Chair of Kenya Power, and as a Permanent Secretary in two government ministries.