Michael Garrison’s East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop Opening Ceremony Remarks

By Africa Center for Strategic Studies
Updated: 09/04/2012

Mr. Garrison

Opening Ceremony
East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop: Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats

Michael Garrison
Acting Director
Africa Center for Strategic Studies

3 September, 2012-08-31
Arusha, Tanzania

Dr. Julius Rotich, Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Political Federation of the East African Community,
Staff Members of the East African Community (EAC);
Members of the Community Chapters of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) in east Africa;
Senior officers, participants, and guests;
All protocols observed –

Good afternoon and welcome to Arusha, Tanzania and the East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop on Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats.

I am Mike Garrison the Acting Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, located at the National Defense University in Washington DC.  On behalf of the leadership, faculty and staff of the Africa Center, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this workshop.

During a February 2011 visit to the East Africa Community headquarters by AMB William Bellamy the most recent Director of the Africa Center, the Secretary General of the EAC suggested we partner together to conduct a regional dialogue program on a security topic of mutual interest.  Well, after many e-mails, letters and phone calls we are here today to open this workshop focused on Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats.  This is a historic occasion for the Africa Center and a great opportunity for us to engage with the EAC headquarters on a topic, which is especially timely and important.

Just last week the East African Interior and Home Affairs ministers met in Kigali, Rwanda, to discuss security challenges such as terrorism, human trafficking, small arms light weapons trafficking, organized crime, piracy, vehicle thefts and cyber crime.  These issues have become especially important as they relate to regional security as the EAC moves into the second stage of regional integration with the entry of the EAC Common Market.

Today, Eastern Africa in general, and the East African Community specifically, face significant challenges in illicit trafficking of goods, drugs, weapons, and people; and in irregular threats, such as armed militias, insurgent groups, and international terrorists.

For hundreds of years East Africa has been a very important crossroads for trade between Asia and the west.  Today, East Africa remains a key and essential entry point for most commodities used in east and central Africa.  However, with these trade routes come opportunities for criminal activity and threats to regional security.

  • East Africa sits astride major international drug routes, especially heroin moving from East Asia to the West.
  • Nearly 25% of all cigarettes consumed in the EAC are illegally smuggled into the region, robbing the five EAC national governments of $100 million in tax revenue per year.
  • The counterfeit industry in Kenya is worth an estimated $913.8 million dollars per year, rivaling the country’s tourism, tea, and coffee revenues.
  • SALW trade has transformed the traditional practice of cattle rustling into militarized cattle theft, and the SALW trade has facilitated use of child soldiers – the LRA uses such weapons and has forcibly recruited some 30,000 children in the past 20 years.

Countering such threats is not easy.  It requires increased collaboration and communication among nations and across security sectors— the threat is so great that national responses must now be interagency responses and are quickly transforming into international action plans to garner resources and regional support.

Effective countermeasures must align enforcement efforts by military, police, and the entire security sector, with appropriate and robust legal protocols and judicial action, so the nefarious actors who perpetrate these crimes can be investigated, interdicted, disrupted, arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced.

We at the Africa Center support the ongoing EAC efforts to conduct a comprehensive dialogue among member states and partner nations.  We stand ready to assist with programming such as this to facilitate dialogue with international and multilateral partners, to improve responses to these challenges.

This workshop is a demonstration of this intent and is designed to help all of us better understand and come to some agreement on how to counter illicit trafficking and the irregular threats impacting your nations and the greater East African Community.

This week we have assembled security practitioners form the EAC and distinguished ACSS alumni from Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.  Unfortunately, due to some technical issues we are still waiting for some participants from Uganda and Rwanda and hope they arrive within the next 24 hours.  This is a very diverse and influential group of security practitioners.  I know Dr. Nickels reviewed the critical elements of this week’s program with you this morning.  However I would like to reinforce the following five objectives:

  1. Identify initiatives led by your respective countries, the East African Community, and foreign security assistance partners to build African counter-illicit trafficking capacity;
  2. Identify good practices and lessons learned in combating illicit trafficking and irregular threats;
  3. Explore links between organized criminal activities and the financing of terror, and any interaction with violent extremist organizations;
  4. Develop inputs for a potential EAC Regional Action Plan to combat illicit trafficking; and
  5. Develop concrete and practical recommendations for enhancing coordination between different security actors within your respective nations.

Our intent is simple: bring together uniformed and civilian security practitioners at this workshop to explore and discuss ways to better posture yourselves to have a safer and more prosperous region.  We will do this in a non-attribution academic setting which allows us to discuss and challenge each other to delve deeply into these issues.  We will not give you a template to do this.  We will however help you by facilitating a dialogue to produce critical thinking for you to develop practical recommendations that can enhance the security sector in your respective countries and throughout the region.

Another important goal of this year’s workshop is to re-examine and re-define the relationships between the Africa Center and the Community Chapters.  The Community Chapters can be, and are becoming, powerful voices for establishing meaningful dialogue on peace, stability, and security issues in Africa.  The Chapters are also an important means by which U.S. and African leaders can better share and understand each others’ perspectives, goals, and concerns regarding policies and programs of common interest.  This is your workshop, so please maximize this opportunity to get to know each other and conduct free and open discussions to explore these very important subjects.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my distinct pleasure to introduce our Keynote Address Speaker, Dr. Julius Rotich, Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Political Federation of the East African Community.

The Summit of the East African Community Heads of State meeting in Kampala on 18 June 2007, appointed Dr. Julius Tangus Rotich, of Kenya as Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (Finance and Administration). The EAC Secretary General redesignated Dr. Rotich as Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation on 2 May 2012.

He previously served in various positions in the Government of Kenya; as Director of the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (1986-1988), Director, Kenya College of Communications Technology (1994-1999), Assistant Director (Finance and Administration) Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (1999-2001), Acting Director, Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (2001-2002); and as Managing Director, National Cereals and Produce Board (2002-2007).

Dr. Rotich has held numerous other academic and professional positions throughout his career.  He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) degree from the University of Nairobi, MBA (Management Science) University of Nairobi (1981), MSc (Operational Research), University of Sussex, UK (1983) and PhD (Operational Research), University of Lancaster (1991). He also holds several professional qualifications and memberships, including Certified Public Accountant of Kenya (CPAK), and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK).

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Julius Rotich to the podium.

— Comments —

Dr. Rotich, thank you very much for you for your rich and informative comments regarding these very important issues.

These programs require a significant amount of planning and coordination and support from multiple organizations to be successful.   Therefore, I would like to take a couple minutes to acknowledge some of the major players that contributed to the program.

First, I wish to formally thank the East African Community for being such great hosts and partners. The Africa Center would especially like to thank AMB Sezibera, Secretary General of the EAC for his interest and support for partnering with the Africa Center.  This partnership is extremely important to the Africa Center.  We are thrilled to be here to work with the East African Community and hope this is the first of many programs we conduct in partnership.

I would also like to thank the Government of the Republic of Tanzania for being such supportive hosts for this event – the rich history and such gracious hospitality combined makes Tanzania, especially Arusha, an outstanding place to conduct this workshop.

I would also like to thank the leadership and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam for their outstanding support to the Africa Center.  We have conducted two programs in Tanzania this year and the support from the Embassy has been exceptional.  We know the embassy staff is extremely busy and we sincerely appreciate their efforts.  We at the Africa Center look forward to continuing this superb relationship in years to come.

This program would not have been possible without the generous contribution of funding by the U.S. Africa Command.  I would like to thank General Ham and his staff for their continued support and partnership with the Africa Center.  I would especially like to thank CAPT Benes Aldana, Chief of International Law at U.S. Africa Command Office of Legal Council for his dedication to improving legal engagement within the Africa security sector and his continued support to the Africa Center.

Finally, I would like to thank the ACSS Community Chapters who provided the initial suggestion for the theme for this workshop and providing key insights during the program’s development.  Truly, this is the embodiment of our mission, to bring together this impressive Africa security sector community of interest to discuss, and develop, a greater understanding of today’s security challenges facing Africa.

We have time to open he floor to questions and comments but before doing so, and in keeping with the Africa Center tradition of non attribution, I would like to ask the media representatives present to excuse themselves from the plenary room before we take questions.

— Media withdraws —

Before we open the floor to questions and comments, I would like to introduce Mr. Brad Minnick, our Director of Communication and Community Affairs.  Mr. Minnick will invite the Community Chapter presidents from Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to the podium in turn to present welcome remarks on behalf of each of their respective chapters.

We have some time for questions…

— Q & A —

If there are no further questions…

I believe we have laid a very good foundation to continue the discussion about the challenges of Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats in East Africa this week.  I wish to again welcome you to this workshop and wish you success throughout the week.  I would like to remind everyone about that we have a group photo immediately following this ceremony and invite each of you to a welcome dinner at 1900 hours.  This concludes the opening ceremony.