X-Raying Africa’s Security Challenges: Threats and Solutions

Africa faces numerous security threats, from terrorism and insurgencies to political instability and transnational crime, hence the necessity for African countries to come together to create a peaceful and prosperous continent as envisioned by the African Union’s Agenda 2063.



Africa’s security issues are both complex and complicated! Therefore, addressing each region’s security challenges towards achieve peace and stability requires a unique approach. For instance, the security challenges in North Africa have been rising since the 2011 popular upheavals, better known as the Arab Spring. The ongoing conflict in Libya, which has evolved into a complicated mix of political and military conflicts, stands out as a major obstacle for peace and stability in North Africa.

There is also the dangerous presence of extremist groups like Boko Haram and ISIS in Mali and the Sahel, which is not unconnected with the security situation in North Africa, particularly the Libyan conflict. Given this perilous scenario, there is a constant string of attacks by the terrorist groups, which continue to destabilize the region.

The internal strife in Libya has allowed terrorist groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Ansar al-Sharia to find refuge within the boundaries of Libya, where they are flourishing. This has also resulted in the alarming infiltration of foreign jihadists into neighboring countries such as Tunisia, where they ignite internal strife and commit atrocities against defenseless citizens.

Egypt is also threatened by the turmoil in Libya, especially along its western border, which is intensified by the mercenaries supported by Turkey operating in Libya. Thus, Egypt grapples with the grave dangers posed by Al-Qaeda’s terrorist allies, namely Al-Mourabitoun and Ansar al-Islam. Further complicating Egypt’s security situation is the fact that its vast landmass has emerged as a new battlefield in the war against terrorism.

Africa’s instability has been further aggravated by the Libyan combatants’ engagement in interstate conflicts, particularly in Mali, Chad, and Sudan, further threatening the security and stability of the affected countries. Another dimension of Libya’s security situation is human trafficking and the smuggling of weapons as well as the extensive dispersion of weaponry from Libya into nearby countries.

Therefore, Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) proliferation has been made worse by the Libyan conflict, which created the existence of illicit weapons whose spread is actively supported by non-African players, porous borders, and cross-border operations by private military security companies (PMSCs).

The start of the 2011 Libyan civil war marked the starting point of the Sahel conflict in northern Mali. In 2015, the conflict spilled over into Burkina Faso. A number of extremist organizations, including Boko Haram and ISWAP, are committing widespread crimes that continue to displace and claim the lives of civilians.

Consequently, the Sahel conflict has had a lasting impact, with the loss of life being a notable and catastrophic result. In Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, the number of deaths from combat and other causes has increased drastically.

Likewise, the number of internally displaced people, both inside the Sahel region and in neighboring countries, has increased significantly as a result of the migratory crisis brought about by this violence. Economic migration has increased as a result of fewer opportunities and means of subsistence in conflict-affected areas, placing tremendous pressure on regional stability.

In addition, extremism and transnational crimes are crossing boundaries, underscoring the necessity for a coordinated regional security strategy. Border regions are particularly susceptible to these spillover effects, hence the spillover of the conflict in Niger into neighboring Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Togo.

Constant political unrest has also resulted in military takeovers across the Sahel, upending democratic systems and thereby threatening conformity to constitutional order.

The heightened instability has led to identity-based violence and resulted in a spike in deaths, evictions and hunger, with devastating effects on women and children. Persistent violence in countries like Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and the Lake Chad basin remains a significant security challenge for Africa.

Boko Haram-related incidents and the consequences of climate change in Cameroon and Chad have further aggravated the humanitarian situation in the Lake Chad region, in addition to increased farmer-header conflicts induced by climate change, which also continue to claim lives.

The Lake Chad basin crisis has resulted in significant internal displacement and driven a sizable number of individuals to seek safety in neighboring countries. Thus, there is a need for immediate intervention to arrest the humanitarian situation in the area.

In East Africa, terrorism continues to pose a serious threat to regional stability, with Al-Shabaab being a particular danger. Because terrorism has many facets and is influenced by varied factors (economic, political, and religious), addressing it requires a holistic counterterrorism strategy.

In southern Africa, political instability has contributed to social tensions and incidents of violence in South Africa, which deepen economic inequalities. Similar internal political challenges affect the stability and growth of Zimbabwe. In addition to handling resource-related conflicts, Mozambique must also fight insurgencies by extremist organizations in the country’s north. Along with endangering lives and livelihoods, these conflicts also prevent investment and economic growth.

Moreover, migration, both internal and across borders, is a pressing concern throughout Africa. Economic disparities, political instability, and conflict often force individuals and families to seek better prospects elsewhere. This movement can strain resources and services in both host and origin areas, leading to tensions and potential conflicts.

No doubt, the security environment in Africa has created a wide-range of challenges. The continent faces numerous security threats, ranging from terrorism and insurgencies to political instability and transnational crime. African countries must therefore come together to create a peaceful and prosperous continent as envisioned by the African Union’s Agenda 2063.


Editor’s Note: This article is partner content produced by African Leadership Magazine (ALM). 


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