The Tana Forum at the Cross Section of African Security

baobab tree
The centrepiece of the Tana experience is the baobab tree. The common name of trees known as Adansonia, the baobab is the national tree of Madagascar and is located in many African countries. Known as the tree of life, it can provide shelter, clothing, food, and water for the animal and human inhabitants of the African savannah regions. (tanaforum.org) Photo/Julie Munsch

Africa is perceived as a ground of threats to global security, poverty, corruption, HIV/AIDS, migration, and other concerns. An African voice is yet to be fully part of such discussions because of a number of factors (political, economic, military, technological, etc.) that undermine the continent’s role on the global chessboard.

In some cases, decisions or resolutions are made without genuine consultation with African stakeholders and incorporating the African position. Moreover, African countries are not always able to come up with strong common positions in critical meetings that make such decisions.

This occurs not only for global security issues that also affect the African continent, but also when it comes to foreign actors’ agendas in Africa and on African security. There is strong need for Africa to consistently develop its common position towards foreign agendas on its own security. (Tana Forum)

Members, organizers, and supporters of the Tana Forum held their fifth annual retreat Saturday and Sunday in Ethiopia (April 16 – 17). The forum brings together, through invite only, a group of current and former leaders and experts on security, politics, and international affairs to discuss what African nations can do collectively to increase their security measures and perpetuate a safe civil society.

This year the Tana Forum Chair was former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and its keynote speaker was former Security General of the United Nations; Kofi Annan.

Obasanjo underscored the importance of the forum to support and promote cooperation among African nations to achieve adequate solutions for African problems. Specifically, according to the Sudan Tribune, Obasanjo expressed hope that the Darfur referendum represents a step forward to achieving peace, development and stability in the troubled region.

Obasanjo added that the participation of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in the forum underlines his keenness to resolve Sudanese and African problems.

The forum seems to be keen on bringing about more stability in the region through self-promoted efforts. As Kofi Annan highlighted in his keynote address: “Africa is actually doing better than many people may realize in terms of the security of its citizenry. Today, and despite a few egregious exceptions, armed conflict is actually a smaller risk to most Africans than traffic accidents”.