“The UK Government believes that it is in our national interest to promote prosperity and security in Africa,” Mr Walker said on Monday at the opening of the Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context (MDWSC) Course at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
“We value our relationship with our partners – who we wish to see stable, prosperous and secure. That is why we work to support partners in addressing challenges and why we seek to maximise the opportunities of each of our African partners,” he said.
Mr Walker said the MDWSC course was one of the UK’s flagship Defence Courses and that it has proven to be an excellent means by which to increase knowledge, share best practice and stimulate debate on a variety of issues linked to the management of Defence.
He said West African countries continue to see development and challenges; stating that “in the last 24 months, we have witnessed the conclusion of UN peace support operations in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire; both significant achievements that reflect very positive developments”.
He said severe challenges remain in Mali, where both UN and EU operations continue, and where the UK now bases CH47 helicopters as a contribution to regional security operations.
The High Commissioner also mentioned Burkina Faso, where the delivery of security for the population remains a very real challenge.
Another area is the Lake Chad basin; which covers parts of Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.
Others are transnational serious organised crime; land disputes; chieftaincy disputes and conflict with migratory populations.
Mr Walker said all these were destabilising influences that prevent development of societies that promote education, prosperity, opportunity and well-being for the people.
“And so, terrorism remains a very real threat in the region, and in the broader global context, to which the G5 Sahel countries have reacted through establishment of the G5 Sahel Force – supported by the UK, and other international partners,” he said.
“Yet many countries seek to develop capacity whilst simultaneously facing economic, social and security challenges – and this can be seen to be the case in other parts of the world also. But all nations have in common the first responsibility of any Government, irrespective of challenges: the protection our citizens.”
He said Islamic State (IS) or Daesh, although now very much on the wane, would wish to continue its brutal campaign of murder and oppression.
Mr Walker said Boko Haram in Nigeria and its neighbours; Al Shabaab in Somalia; and other extremist groups in the Sahel – with an expansion of their deadly activities, as seen in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso – all threaten security and challenge the rules-based international system.
Mr Walker said in Europe, tensions remain over international relations, migration and an extant terrorist threat, which has struck in Paris, Brussels and London – all remain serious concerns.
He said across the world, weapon proliferation, the advance of cyber warfare threats, the activities of non-state actors advancing oppressive ideologies, rogue states, and the undermining of traditional military advantage through disruptive technologies all present threats to stability.
“There is no room for complacency and there can be no let-up in the continuous strive for excellence at every level throughout government and the Defence and Security sectors,” he said.
Air Vice Marshall Griffiths S. Evans, KAIPTC Commandant, expressed gratitude to the British Government for supporting the organisation of the MDWSC course.
Colonel Simon Westlake, British Defence Advisor, said the course which was his last here in Ghana was a course which provides a framework for discussion of security challenges and how they could be tackled.
The two-week course seeks to enable representatives from across the security sector to contribute to the development, implementation and review of national security and defence policies.
It also aims at facilitating inter-ministerial co-ordination on security and defence issues.
The MDWSC course is the eighth consecutive year of it being conducted in Ghana by the KAIPTC in partnership with the UK Government.
It is being attended by 29 participants drawn from Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.