The State Intelligence Service (SIS) in its capacity as the regional chair is hosting the 15 regional member states of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) to a virtual meeting/workshop from July 29-30, 2021.
The theme of the meeting is: “Expansion and entrenchment of terrorist and violent extremist groups in parts of Africa: strategy for rolling back the threat and preventing a terrorism epicentre- scenario on the continent”.
The objectives of this workshop would be to come up with the necessary recommendations that would facilitate the crafting of appropriate strategies for rolling back the terrorist threat on the African continent and preventing the region from becoming a terrorism epicenter.
It could be recalled that the SIS hosted a similar meeting in June 2019, when the service was selected as Chair of the Region, a position it still maintain thanks to the support, trust and cooperation of Gambia government, the general public and indeed the West African region and the continent in general.
In his keynote address the director general of SIS Ousman Sowe, who is the current chairperson of the CISSA (West Africa Region) thanked President Adama Barrow and members of his government for approving the hosting of the meeting by the SIS and also welcoming member services to this very important regional meeting. As host, Sowe expressed his optimism by the level and full membership participation to this meeting, comprising 47 participants from all the 15-member intelligence services.
DG Sowe dilated on the theme of the meeting emphasising its relevance and timeliness giving the present realities in not only the Sahel and West Africa but also in other parts of Africa. This he said gives the meeting a compelling imperative to come up with preventive anti and counter terrorism rollback strategies across the continent.
In this regard, DG Sowe emphasised the need for the whole-of-government, whole-of-society cooperation and collaboration with regional governments, non-governmental and civil society actors, international partners, the academia, the private sector and with full involvement of the youths and women groups. DG Sowe further stressed the need for multilayered and multifaceted approaches and strategies that include but not limited to economic, political, social, religious, educational, developmental, diplomatic and military, underpinned by actionable and strategic intelligence which he said is particularly needed for advising our political leadership on the issues.
The CISSA Regional chairperson Sowe concluded by recognising the continued collaboration between the member services and called on all to keep abreast with the ever-evolving dynamics of terrorism and extremism, most recently the impact of the Civid-19 pandemic on the rise of violent extremism as well as the increased abuse of the internet for terrorism and extremist purposes.
The CISSA executive secretary, Madam Zainab Ali Kotoko in her opening remarks at the meeting, congratulated the DG Sowe for his enviable leadership of CISSA West Africa in these unprecedented difficult times. She further congratulated the SIS as a service, through its DG and Chair of CISSA West Africa for hosting this very imperative virtual meeting. She expressed her believe that the deliberations in this meeting would facilitate the taking of informed decisions on appropriate strategies for rolling back the terrorist threat in the African continent and preventing the Region from becoming a terrorism epicenter.
Also speaking on the occasion, the DG National Intelligence Agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ambassador Rufai ABUBACARR who is also the CISSA Continental Chairperson, expressed the great importance attached to such meetings for the region to forge a common understanding in a collective security response. He further stated that the Intelligence Estimates produced at such meetings would help the continent come up with strategies to roll back the threat on the continent. He expressed his satisfaction that CISSA West Africa Region has so far been doing very well in this sphere. He said CISSA continues to strive for African integration but highlighted one of the challenges to this endeavor as the security issues attached to the ratification of the African Union protocol on the free movement of goods and people, in line with the provisions of the Africa continental Free Trade Agreement (AcFTA). The DG NIA of Nigeria thus emphasized on the need for a collective collaboration ratifying this protocol without compromising respective security concerns.
The meeting ends on July 30, 2021 with the adoption of recommendations that will feed into the Continent’s Strategies in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
Overall, the SIS Gambia feels very encouraged by the hosting of this very important regional meeting as it speaks of the being consolidated gains of the SIS in its ongoing reforms, restructuring, recasting and repositioning as the premier intelligence of the Gambia. DG Sowe said hosting such regional occasion is testimony to the trust and credibility that the SIS is registering not only inside the Gambia but also among regional services and beyond. The SIS he said is working on building Gambia’s intelligence service of the future with the aspiration to become one of the best intelligence services around the world.