A high-level international counterterrorism conference opened in Accra Tuesday, with a call on member States of the Accra Initiative to pursue a common preventive approach to rid West Africa of the scourge of terrorism and extremism.
The Accra Initiative is a grouping of seven African coastal and Sahel states affected by insurgency and insecurity within the sub-region.
The Accra Conference would discuss regional solutions to the spillover of terrorism from the Sahel region into coastal states of the Gulf of Guinea as foreign troops pull out of Mali, where Islamic radicals have seized considerable territory.
The meeting, being held under the theme “Accra Initiative: Towards a Credible, Preventive and Coordinated Response to challenges facing the Coastal and Sahelian States” is to come out with a communique on the deliberations of member states with partners on how to deal with the insurgency situation in the region.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, host of the conference, called on his counterparts in the region to pursue a common agenda to stop the growing terror threat in West Africa.
They should create synergies and bridge the gaps in the regional fight against terrorism, to curb the terror threat expanding beyond the Sahel towards oastal 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 Africa region,” he said.
The President emphasized that there was need for interlocking measures and international cooperation to stop the spread of terrorism from the Sahel to the coastal regions of West Africa.
He called on international partners to provide support to the West Africa initiative to fight terrorism but emphasized that regional states must own the initiative.
President Akufo-Addo was optimistic that the Accra conference would sprout then needed conversations and actions to curb the menace, which threatens democracy, social cohesion and development.
European Council President, Charles Michel noted 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 ECOWAS Commission President, Dr . Omar Alieu Touray urged all bloc members to support the initiative to stem the increasing threat of terrorism in West Africa.
The Accra Initiative was established in September 2017 as a mechanism to enhance intelligence and security cooperation between the Intelligence and Security Agencies of Member States.
It was formed to address the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel region and 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 ten countries in the world as the most impacted by terrorism.
The President of Benin, Togo and the Prime Ministers of Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso are participating in the conference.