Technology & Trade
Commentary

Bordering on Development

in Program

By Ambassador Ochieng Adala and Johan Bergenas – You would be hard-pressed today to find someone that rejects Kofi
Annan’s axiom that “you cannot have development without security and you cannot
have security without development.” However,
practical implementation of this powerful logic is still largely unfulfilled.
Insufficient cooperation and coordination of resources-financial, technical,
and human-between military, security, and development communities worldwide
remains a significant obstacle to change.

It is with this background that the Managing Across Boundaries
program (MAB) at the Stimson Center and the Africa Peace Forum, a Nairobi-based
peace and conflict research institute, have partnered to challenge conventional
wisdom. Through research, analysis, and outreach on the ground, in 2012, we
will develop a Kenyan border security action plan detailing requirements in
terms of high technology, communications equipment, training, and human
capacity. It is our intention that this document will be a helpful tool for the
Government of Kenya to solicit international assistance for building capacity
at borders.

Development and security specialists agree that the cornerstone of
any successful development strategy in East Africa must include a commitment to
shoring up capacities at the borders. Porous and weak infrastructure and
institutions at national boundaries are the common denominator for an array of
security challenges that directly impact the prospects of economic and social
progress on the African continent: proliferation and small arms trafficking,
growth in organized crime, and terrorist activity.

Ultimately, it is our hope that the private sector, including
manufacturers and trainers of many of the required technologies and services,
will be a part of conversations with governments, and perhaps even tailor
capacity-building programs that will effectively respond to the issues that
Kenya and the East African region face. The global market for improving border
security is worth $17 billion per year, which should serve as a market
incentive for progressive high tech and communications corporations to
cooperate with governments, development and infrastructure banks, and civil
society.

For the local
population, security problems, such as the
unchecked flow of small arms across the continent, challenge sustainable development
by fuelling conflict, spoiling a healthy business climate, threatening a
functioning labor market and educational system, decreasing revenues from
tourism, and endangering foreign direct investments. Indeed, it is estimated
that armed violence and civil wars alone, made possible by illicit flows of
arms, account for a 15-percent reduction in the gross domestic product annually
in Africa. Our initiative seeks to
create conditions that will enable poor and vulnerable people to improve their
lives. This is sustainable development through security.

It is time to rethink
the role of governments, civil society, and industry to create innovative new
partnerships that benefit the greater good. In our interconnected world, it is
in the interest of both governments and the private sector for corporations to
become a greater force for good while making profits. We must therefore do a
better job enlisting tech and communications companies’ support in building
stronger societies.

We hope that this “whole of society” pilot program in Kenya will
trigger a chain reaction across the region, and we stand ready to communicate
the lessons learned and facilitate similar projects throughout the African
continent. Ultimately, our joint efforts are our attempt at turning Kofi
Annan’s persuasive rhetoric into equally powerful action.


Photo credit: Courtesy of International Security Assistance Force, http://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/5966113214/

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