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What Did the Dakar Forum Achieve? Analysis

FILE - Senegalese President Macky Sall opened the eighth edition of the International Forum of Dakar on Peace and Security with a speech on Oct. 24, 2022. (Annika Hammerschlag/VOA)
FILE - Senegalese President Macky Sall opened the eighth edition of the International Forum of Dakar on Peace and Security with a speech on Oct. 24, 2022. (Annika Hammerschlag/VOA)

Analysts affirm the African Union's position that the continent has largely been ignored because of the war in Ukraine - yet European partners pile pressure on the 54-nation bloc to lend its solidarity against Russia.

African Union chair and Senegal President Macky Sall, told an international peace and security forum in Dakar last week that Africans were not being ''insensitive to the situation in Ukraine by not (taking sides with Russia) against Ukraine.''

He told the gathering that many Africans felt that their own challenges, like security, economy or health were being sidelined.

"Africans say that even while Ukraine is at war, is being invaded, is being attacked, Africa is under permanent attack from terrorism," Sall said.

"This is 2022, this is no longer the colonial period... so countries, even if they are poor, have equal dignity. Their problems have to be handled with respect." he remarked.

David Otto Endeley director at the Center for African Security and Strategic Studies in Geneva told VOA that he agrees with the position by the AU chair, but said Sall must go beyond such rhetoric.

''Africa has no permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. And of course, that makes Africa, not to be on the table when it comes to global politics. So I do side with the AU chair when he clearly said that Africa is being ignored,'' he said.

However, Endeley went on to say "When African leaders take sides on the basis of their national interest, they face criticism.''

The analyst asserted that ''I think it's high time that Africa continued to look (out for) it's interest when it comes to fighting terror, and insecurities on the continent. "

Additionally, "It's critical that Africa looks within to ensure that it gets the best deal when it comes to its peace and security relations with other countries outside of the continent,'' he added.

Analyst Endeley said it is becoming troubling that Africa is left to face it's problems alone, while external partners seek to dictate to the continent on how it drives its foreign policy.

''If you look at it the other way around, when Africa does experience issues like covid, terrorism and coups, you don't see the same level of condemnation or see Africans asking European countries to take a particular side."

For analyst Endeley, the Dakar peace and security forum sought to ''re-evaluate Africa's position'' on issues it is currently facing like terrorism in the Great Lakes, Mozambique and the Lake Chad basin as well as coup d'etats in Guinea, the Sahelian state of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

University of Aberdeen analyst Manu Lekunze told VOA that not only has Ukraine's war taken attention on critical issues facing Africa, but the conflict has provided a complex situation as the continent reels under rising inflation.

''There are (African) countries benefiting from the high oil prices because they themselves are oil and gas exporters. But there are other African states that don't."

''There are also those countries that are facing serious financial problems coming out of the pandemic," he said, adding "You can see how a country like Ghana, it's currency, is almost increasingly devalued because of this financial problems, and the same can be said for Nigeria."

''The IMF has been doing a lot since the conflict to try and ensure that there's enough finance in the system. States like Zambia have been able to negotiate a financing (program), and in parts of the continent inflation is wiping out all of the gains made,'' he said.

Lekunze said he thinks that when it comes to peace and security on the continent ''a lot of what's going on is already known and in some cases over-studied.''

''We should get on to do what we have to do, rather than continue to hold these conferences, spend a lot of money and talk about things that everybody already knows. A number of small wars and insurgencies in Africa are increasing,'' he said.

''Economic development, education and all the other things that Africa needs can only occur in a peaceful and orderly environment. And so, states have to begin to think really seriously about resolving these (security) problems.''