By Sylvester Suaray
To improve the economy and reinforce their social promises of a better Africa, leaders across the continent have spent decades crafting innovative solutions to combat Africa’s burgeoning conflict and social problems.
While peace and security are still lacking despite the multiple developments of multilateral agencies like the African Standby Force ASF, African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises ACIRC, the South African Development Community SADC and the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS, leaders in Africa have not wavered in their commitment to building safer communities and ideas to sustain peace and strengthen security in the continent.
Former Presidents across the continent continue to seek lasting solutions to some of Africa’s most hard-hitting issues. H.E Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone who led the country from 2007-2018, has been advocating for an Africa comprehensive initiative known as the African Peace Engineering Corps (AfPEC) under the auspices of the Global Vision Community of Horasis.
The first high-level round table called “An Avenue for Peace, Security and Sustainable Development for Africa” took place in October 2020 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. It welcomed former Presidents H.E Hassan Sheik Mahmud of Somalia, H.E Dr. Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia, H.E Pierre Buyoya, former President of Burundi, High-Level representative of Mali and the SAHEL at the African Union, and Assistant Secretary-General Madame Bintou Keita Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs as well as other distinguished guests.
The Second high-level round table took place in March of 2021 at the Horasis USA Extraordinary Meeting and welcomed H.E. Jonathan Goodluck – Former President of Nigeria – Founder of the West African Elders Forum, Ret. General William “Kip Ward (Fist AFRICOM Commander), Russel Feingold Former U.S. Senator / U.S. Envoy for the Great Lakes, Dr. Vasu Gounden Founder and Director for ACCORD – 2020 Number 1 – Think Tank for Peace and Security in Sub Saharan Africa. There was a consensus among participants at both gatherings that the initiative is laudable for sustainable peace in Africa.
The African Peace Corps Initiative – is a proposed solution to train and mobilise the African military for peace, engineering, and sustainable economic development. The former president successfully utilised the military in his country during the fight against Ebola, using a similar initiative to introduce it to the continent. During the devastating Ebola outbreak, President Koroma successfully tapped into the expertise lying within the army in building treatment canters, enforcing quarantine and distributing food, provision of water and social assistance. But significantly, the military was also utilised in managing some of the holding and treatment centres. Treatment centres managed by military medics eventually turned out to have the highest number of Ebola recoveries. On top of this, the military-civilian relationship was greatly enhanced throughout the country.
Given this and following the peaceful transition he presided in his country after his second term in Office H.E Koroma began to confer with his colleagues to craft an adaptive solution that draws on available resources in Africa – specifically, within the militaries with vast numbers and technical capabilities.
The initiative would become known as the African Peace Engineering Corps – generally, a reorganisation and deployment of a certain percentage of their inactive military to engage in the building of much needed social infrastructure such as health facilities, schools, water systems, roads, community centres and markets
H.E PRESIDENT Koroma speaks to the need for a lasting solution that, with the proper formation and support, would consistently use the African military throughout the continent to solve many of Africa’s problems, from peace to societal and infrastructural development.
At the roundtable, he stated, “On a regional or continental level, we would be able to utilise the military and benefit from their discipline, their engineering capacity, and build up social projects that will address the issues that are the basis of peace.” He went on to say that much of the conflict arises from people experiencing a feeling of being “left out” or left behind by their governments and applying the military to build up these communities would lead to lower levels of disaffection and unrest.
The African Peace Engineering Corps (AfPEC) is anticipated to serve as a pre-emptive action versus reaction. With the African Peace Engineering Corps, the continent would utilise an almost silent African military to secure and monitor peace, even when there is no direct conflict. They would help build social systems, support infrastructure, and serve as a backbone in preventing African countries from falling victim to conflict.
AfPEC will be driven by a combination of peacebuilding, engineering, and the U.N.’s sustainable development goals aspirations to establish widespread peace throughout Africa by addressing the causes of conflict instead of reacting to it. The focus would be on helping the marginalised by improving access to social amenities in communities. It will ensure that the people of Africa feel their human rights are being protected and respected. This will not only work to shield Africa from conflict but allow countries to prosper in ways that we cannot imagine.
AfPEC will make great use of an inactive military by deploying soldiers to communities that need support. They will not stand as a present to emit fear but will work in the communities to build them up. This in-field approach will allow the organisation to realise problems before they arise. While the goal is peace and security, prosperity is sure to grow from a unified stance amongst African nations and their militaries as they serve those they are meant to protect.
The beauty of this initiative lies in the framework already in place to bring this vision to reality. The military already has the tools and capacities to build infrastructure throughout the continent and will soon be preparing the communities to accept the military and funding of the said initiative.
From investing in the military to investing in the community, H.E President Koroma’s vision for the future presents a shift in conflict resolution throughout the continent. It portrays a commitment to bettering Africa with adaptive solutions that prevent conflict and improve communities to create a cohesive relationship between the military and the communities they serve. Human rights and security have been central throughout the initiative to ensure that communities trust that it is to their benefit. As this trust is gained, the African Peace Engineering Corps can be a viable asset to peace and growth in Africa.
At the October 2020 and March 2021 high-level discussions, all participants agreed that work would need to be done to gather champions of the African Peace Engineering Corps throughout the regions. As this initiative is introduced and championed across the continent, it is expected that trust will begin to build, and implementation will become possible. There will be many logistics issues left to be lined out, but the fruit that may come to bear from the AfPEC initiative could mean revolutionary change for peace and security in Africa.