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Socio-economic Response Essential to Building Security in Africa

Oliver Cann, Associate Director, Public Engagement, Tel.: +41 (0)79 799 3405, Email:
  • Rights of women to education targeted by terrorists
  • Socio-economic growth should be at the heart of responses to terrorism
  • The first response to community violence should come from within civil society itself
  • The future of the continent is bright thanks to its enormous natural wealth
  • The World Economic Forum on Africa takes place in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7-9 May 2014; learn more:

Abuja, Nigeria, 8 May 2014 – The kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram insurgents is more than just an act of terrorism against the federal government; it is a direct attack on the right of women to an education, said Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Tunis. The kidnapping also puts the very future of the country in danger as school learners represent that future, he added.

Insecurity, violence and terrorism in Africa must be tackled on socio-economic and political levels, as well as through force. “We must use economic measures and political policy to ensure we do not have coalitions of permanent losers,” said Kaberuka. “If you have such a situation, you have a very low threshold for violence.”

Kaberuka added that he does not buy into the idea that insecurity on the continent is entirely an “African problem”, as causes of militant groups are often imported from elsewhere. “I believe some of these fighters cannot even speak an African language,” he said.

Fighting crime and terrorism must be multisectoral and inclusive, agreed Erastus J. O. Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union, Addis Ababa. Because terrorism itself knows no borders, responses to it must be transnational in terms of organization, information transfer and funding, he said.

Moussa Mara, Prime Minister of Mali, agreed that socio-economic responses are essential to building peace and security in Africa. Force of arms must be followed by dialogue and efforts to improve people’s lives, for example by moving to democratic institution-building. Mara said conflict in Mali and the entire Sahel region is a result of various factors: an unresolved secession campaign, jihadism that has been allowed to spread unhindered, a spillover of fighting from Libya and an influx of drug traffickers.

The first response to community violence should come from within civil society itself, said Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger. People should be sufficiently happy in their day-to-day lives to prompt them to “say no to mafia activity,” said Rafini.

Rafini said Africans should not become discouraged by the current phase of insecurity as the future of the continent is bright thanks to its enormous natural wealth – even in the Sahel, which is currently experiencing considerable strife.

Economic growth is interlinked with peace and stability, said Bineta Diop, Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, African Union; President, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa. However, while many parts of the continent are enjoying high growth, this growth often has little impact on the lives of poor people. New ways must be found to make growth translate into improved living standards and job creation, said Diop. 

The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7-9 May 2014. The theme of the meeting is Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting are Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom; Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Heineken, Netherlands; Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria; Bineta Diop, President, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland; Jabu A. Mabuza, Chairman, Telkom Group, South Africa; Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, India; John Rice, Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR

Notes to Editors

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