Regional collaboration yields results in fight against Boko Haram: the recent surge against Boko Haram and other terrorist cells in Nigeria and central Africa is showing signs of success.


For the African continent to sustain another decade of growth it will be vital for it to quell the rising insecurity caused by terrorist cells which have appeared in certain countries in Africa. And with the globalisation of terrorism, a continental and regional approach will be needed more than ever to counter the insurgency.

One of the biggest franchises operating today in Africa is Boko Haram operating in North East Nigeria. And it has come at a substantial cost to Nigeria, with spill over effects in neighbouring Cameroon as well as Chad and Niger.

However, to judge by the progress made in the last six weeks to the end of March, a coordinated military surge has made considerable headways in pushing back these terrorist cells. At the time of writing Nigeria had reportedly recaptured over 40 towns from Boko Haram, such as Damasak on the border with Niger or Bama in Borno State. The successes come after the start of a four-nation military offensive with Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Chad and Niger have grabbed much of the headlines but has been a critical facilitator to make this collaborative effort a success. A ground-breaking agreement was reached middle of February at an extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX) in Yaounde. The focus was the fight against Boko Haram and the aim was to work together and adopt a common strategy. The states would work together and contribute the financial resources and pledge the military assistance to deal with the threat. Of the three neighbours with Nigeria, arguably Cameroon has had the most cause for concern. It is against this threat that President Paul Biya made an official declaration of war on Boko Haram, reemphasizing that "compromise is impossible" and that the only alternative was to "eradicate Boko Haram."

The COPAX meeting, held on the 16 February, followed a meeting of military and legal experts from the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and partner countries, held in Yaounde from 5 to 7 February 2015. That meeting, in turn, followed a decision of the African Heads of State at the African Union Summit last January.

Created in February 1999, COPAX is the armed wing of the Economic Community of Central African States (EC-CAS). Its role is to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts, particularly in the context of strengthening sub-regional co-operation in defence and security.

So far the success...

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