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Self Reliance Key to Africa Anti-Insurgent Capacity

FILE - French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the Elysee Presidential Palace, in Paris, 7.9.2021

Analysts say African states must build capacity to tackle insurgencies and desist from the over reliance on their former colonizers. They have warned that a withdrawal of French troops in parts of Africa could also see Russia widen its military influence on the continent as Moscow makes inroads.

French President Emmanuel Macron's recently completed three-nation tour of Africa - Cameroon, Benin and Guinea Bissau - was what Paris described as a redefinition of its Africa security strategy.

In Cameroon, Macron voiced unflinching support to defeat Boko Haram and the spread of jihadist ideology. He said Paris would provide military support if requested, even as Macron announced a pull out of troops from Mali in early February.

Temitope Olodo, Africa Security Forum's president told VOA that the redefinition of a security strategy by Paris simply means a pull out of troops. He said there's a problem with such strategy if adopted.

''If France goes ahead with plans to withdraw all troops from Africa, some of these African states might be overrun by these insurgents and we're likely to see another deja vu.''

Olodo added that ''We're not saying that Africa can't solve its problems, but the fact is that Africa has been so reliant on their former colonizers for support, such that a pull out might have a negative effect on the war on terror across the continent.''

Still, Olodo sees an avenue for Paris' involvement, saying ''There's opportunity for France to continue providing support to Africa without having boots on the ground. And, I think that's where their strategy would move to, which is similar to what the U.S did (in Afghanistan).

David Otto Endeley at the Center for African Security and Strategic Studies in Geneva told VOA that Paris' narrative of defense strategy redefinition is an admission to end its military support in Africa.

Endeley said French troops' withdrawal could likely see Russia widen its influence in Cameroon as in the Central African Republic, and Mali because ''the security vacuum cannot be filled nationally."

''This could see Moscow supplying more weapons to Yaounde. There're very clear indications that the Kremlin will not pull back from occupying (the security vacuum) if the Élysée pulls out completely," he said.

Analyst Endeley also said that ''It will take a crawl-walk-run scenario for African states to wind themselves off global defense support, adding that African leaders are learning slowly but steadily to take control of their own security.''

''It is no longer a unipolar world order," he says. "The geopolitical space has changed, and now former French colonies are eyeing different partners like the US, China, Russia, and the UK and so France is in a serious competition."

Enderly said states on the continent can clearly play the situation to their advantage, saying "These changes present a good opportunity for African nations, who must now look into what benefits (them) the most for their national interests.''