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On Monday, 40 senior-level military and civilian officials from 13 African countries and the United States participated in the opening ceremony of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ (ACSS) “Managing Security Resources in Africa” seminar in Washington, D.C. The week-long gathering that runs through 9 November, will give participants an opportunity to analyze the importance of applying practical resource management principles in Africa’s security sector. The seminar also aims to reinforce the link between effective resource management and the attainment of national security goals.
At the seminar’s opening ceremony, ACSS Acting Director Michael Garrison stressed that ACSS programs are designed to bring security sector practitioners together and provide a capacity-building opportunity through frank and open discussions. He emphasized the Africa Center’s commitment to continuing the dialogue after the program through an active outreach program that engages alumni by visiting ACSS communities and formally organized country chapters across the continent. He also encouraged participants to interact with ACSS faculty members, learn more about the Center’s research publications and use ACSS social media forums to stay in touch.
Keynote speaker, Professor El Hadj Ibrahima Sall, President of the Université Polytechnique de l’Ouest Africain (University of Technology of West Africa) in Dakar Senegal, stressed the importance of strategic planning in managing security resources. Sall said that as a general principle, African countries should always concentrate their resources where they are most effectively used. He added that each nation should develop a strategic planning framework that serves as a compass in allocating funds. To reach this goal, he said, African countries need to have what the World Bank calls a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF): a three-to-five-year plan with budget allocations for their security sectors. The plan would be assessed annually, and remaining funds would be re-allocated.
“The strategic plan can also serve as a starting point when it comes to negotiating with the parliament during budgetary trade-offs,” Sall continued. “Without a strategic plan, senior security sector leaders and the minister of defense come to the table empty handed.” Urging participants to work for regional cooperation, Sall said that transnational threats are critically undermining security as a whole in Africa. He argued that it would be challenging for African nations to achieve human security if they don’t pool their resources together and rethink their approach.Video Recorded in French
Dr. Assis Malaquias, ACSS Academic Chair of Defense Economics, addressed seminar participants, asserting, “African militaries have to respond to a large demand for security, with very limited resources, more than elsewhere in the world. This makes the management of security resources very critical. Moreover, security for the state and the citizen is so important that managing resources efficiently becomes a matter of life or death for some states.”
Dr. Malaquias said that this timely seminar is meant to be a hands-on workshop for participants. Focus will be on exchanging their views on critical issues in their area of expertise. “We brought you together to ask questions like: what is the impact of a particular size of the military on security? Is big size synonymous with better security? How do you manage your security resources to get the best out of your armed forces?”
Malaquias also pointed out that the seminar’s main objective is to facilitate the sharing of best practices resulting in better management of scarce resources in Africa in the near future. Setting the stage for a challenging and productive week, he concluded, “Security resources are just part of every state’s assets and so far, the countries with the best record in overall resources management in Africa also tend to do well as far as the security sector is concerned.”
The seminar will include sessions focused on planning and budgeting for national security; procurement principles and practices; regional dimensions of resource management; and coordinating international assistance.
ACSS is the pre-eminent Department of Defense institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. ACSS offers a range of academic symposiums, workshops, and programs throughout Africa, the United States, and Europe. Since 1999, more than 6,000 African and international leaders and security stakeholders have participated in ACSS programs.