President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday chaired a high-level conference in Accra to deliberate on the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the West African sub-region.
The conference, attended by security experts and international partners, was the maiden session of the Accra Initiative, a counterterrorism response by Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Benin.
Participants at the conference discussed ways to rid the region from the scourge of terrorism in the Sahel to prevent a spillover to the coastal areas of the Gulf of Guinea.
Participants in the meeting
The Accra Initiative was established in September 2017 as a mechanism to enhance intelligence and security cooperation between the Security Agencies of Member States.
It was formed to address the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region to curb the southward drift of the threat of terrorism to coastal West African States.
The initiative, since its operationalisation, has achieved various milestones key among which is the successful execution of joint operations along the common borders of Member States leading to the disruption of terrorist cells.
Data from the latest Global Terrorism Index points to the Sahel and West African regions as epicentres of terrorism and violent extremism, with four countries in the region featuring in the top 10 countries in the world as the most impacted by terrorism.
Opening the conference, President Akufo-Addo called on his counterparts in the region to pursue a common agenda to stop the growing terror threat in West Africa.
He urged them to create synergies and bridge the gaps in the regional fight against terrorism to curb the terror threat expanding beyond the Sahel towards the coastal areas.
“Today the terrorist groups, emboldened by their success in the regions, are seeking new grounds. The worsening situation threatens to engulf the entire West African region,” he said.
The President stressed the need for an international cooperation to end the spread of terrorism from the Sahel to the coastal regions of West Africa and called on international partners to provide support to the West Africa initiative to fight terrorism
President Akufo-Addo was optimistic that the Accra conference would set the tone for the needed conversations and actions to curb the menace which threatened democracy, social cohesion and development.
The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, expressed worry over the activities of terrorists in the region, adding that the risk of contagion into the coastal states “is not a risk anymore, it’s a reality.”
“We all need to identify the best way to have an impact on the ground,” he said.
The President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar AlieuTouray, urged members of the bloc to support the initiative to stem the increasing threat of terrorism in West Africa.