Heads of state and government of the seven-member counter terrorism countries in West Africa, known as “The Accra Initiative” are meeting in Accra at their maiden conference aimed at developing strong ties to deal with the growing phenomenon of terrorism and violent extremism in West Africa and the Sahelian region.
The Accra Initiative international conference is under the theme; “Towards a credible, preventive and coordinated response to challenges facing the coastal and Sahelian states.”
In his opening address at the maiden high level counterterrorism conference of the “Accra Initiative”, held at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City on Tuesday (22 November 2022), the chairperson of the Accra Initiative, President Nana Akufo-Addo, said that the conference will not only diagnose and identify the security challenges that confront the West Africa region, but will also faction out solutions to resolving them.
“I say nothing new when I state that West Africa continues to suffer from the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism spreading rapidly across the region,” he said.
“Today, the terrorist groups emboldened by their apparent success in the region, are seeking new operational grounds, a development that has triggered the southward drift of the menace from the Sahel to coastal West Africa,” he added.
“Cognisant of the underlying causes of terrorism in West Africa, the mitigation of which cannot be achieved through military intervention alone, the “Accra Initiative” should seek to pursue a comprehensive approach that promotes the adoption of social intervention programmes to help address development gaps in vulnerable communities within member states,” Akufo-Addo added.
On the role of international partners with regard to the Accra Initiative, President Akufo-Addo noted that their support per the analysis of member states, will be very crucial to the success of same.
However, he indicated that member states will own the initiative and will require their foreign partners to respect same.
“Our assessment points to the fact that support from members of international community will be needed, but we remain firm in our commitment to shoulder a greater part of the responsibility required whiles engaging international partners who are willing to respect our status as a hoke grown Initiative,” Akufo-Addo said.
The Accra Initiative
The Accra Initiative started under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo when he served as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The main rational behind the Accra Initiative is to ensure information gathering and sharing, building trust within the sub-region and offering technical support from non-state actors for the fight against terrorism and violence extremism in West Africa.
The seven member states on the Avvra Initiative are Togo, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, and Ivory Coast. Nigeria currently enjoys observer status and wil soon be admitted to a full membership status.