The convergence was held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 29 January to 4 February 2023. The Conference was officially opened by the Special Guest of Honour, His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe MASISI, President of the Republic of Botswana.
In attendance also were H.E. Ambassador Bankole ADEOYE, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union Commission; Dr Hameed NURU, Africa Regional Director, World Food Programme (WFP) and H.E. Ambassador Zainab Ali KOTOKO, Executive Secretary of CISSA.
The theme for the conference was: “Food Security, Conflict and Peace in Africa.”
Forty-three (43) Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa, CISSA Strategic Partners such as The African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT/CAERT), the Liaison with CISSA Unit of the African Union Commission (AUC), the Directorate of Conflict Management, Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (AUC), and Interpol as well as invited guests from Bahrain, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Qatar, Russia, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America also attended the opening ceremony of the Conference.
Given that Conflict remains the biggest driver of hunger and starvation leading to unprecedented levels of food insecurity in the African continent, the week-long consultative Session, availed the opportunity to the Heads of Intelligence and Security Services of the African continent to deliberate on the general food security outlook of the continent, the intersection between conflicts and food security, including the factors that drive food insecurity in conflict settings and explore the different measures that need to be taken to address the alarming situation in the continent.
It also offered perspectives from different conflict-affected countries and how intelligence services of the African continent may provide insights into potential measures that Member States and peace actors can take to prevent and mitigate the impact of conflict on food security and vice versa.
Speaking as Chairperson of the CISSA West Africa Regional Bureau, DG SOWE stated that looking at the trends and patterns of the situation of food security, peace and conflict in our sub region and in the continent at large, their related challenges may likely be rolled over in the short and medium terms.
He argued that Conflict, while the major cause of food insecurity in the sub region is not the only cause. He cited poverty, natural disasters, climate change leading to drought and water scarcity as other causes of food insecurity and when combined with conflict, tends to exacerbate the extent of the humanitarian crisis.
DG Sowe further stressed that as intelligence services/agencies, it is imperative that they provide strategic policy recommendations and guidance to their respective national governments and impactful regional analysis as a block, through ECOWAS, to come up with well-informed policies aimed at addressing food security and conflict in our sub region as well as harness the dividends of peace.