Localising Security, Safety in Africa

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Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by Security Watch Africa Initiatives and Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, is geared towards localising security and safety in Africa through home-based trainings tailored to meet the peculiarities of each country

A wise man once said the solution to African problems is in Africa. This is a saying held dearly by the President and CEO, Security Watch Africa Initiatives, Patrick Agbambu. In the area of security and safety, it is truism that no meaningful development can take place without security. This is because security is paramount in any endeavour.

A firm believer that for African nations to contain the increasing insecurity plaguing the continent, member states must work together in joint security management, Agbambu in

advocating for home-based lasting solutions recently led the SWAI team to Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), South Africa to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for trainings for the police, traffic officers and those in the correctional services.

At the signing were DVC, Teaching, Learning and Technology, TUT, Prof. Stanley Mukhola;

Acting Executive Dean, Faculty of Humanities, TUT, Prof. Mashupye Maserumule; President

and CEO, Security Watch Africa Initiatives (SWAI), Patrick Agbambu; President and COO, Higher Education Partners Africa (HEPSA), Nick Kendall; HOD, Dept of Safety and Security Management, TUT, Prof. Jacob Mofokeng; Assistant Professor, Dept of Safety TUT, Prof Adewale Olusola (a Nigerian); Faculty Marketer, Ms Lerato Motsisi; Managing Director, HEPSA, Ms Varaidzo Mhangami; Academic Services Director for HEPSA, Ms Sarietjie Musgrave; and SWAI SA Coordinator, Ruth Denton.

TUT’s Solid Partnership

Speech upon speech, it was overwhelmingly glaring that the TUT body were solidly behind the partnership. In his speech, the Acting Executive Dean, Faculty of Humanities, TUT, Prof. Mashupye Maserumule, expressed pleasure about the partnership. He said: “If you look at what we are doing in the department, you look at what Africa Security Watch Initiative is doing , there is a high degree of coherence. We have decided to partner them because what we are doing will subsequently help the continent.

“Also I was looking at some of very important questions that AU Agenda 63 is asking, particularly as it relates to safety and security. And the important point that they are making is that there is no way that we can talk about the development of Africa if we don’t address issues that relate to safety and security.

“Specific questions that are asked and requesting us to answer relates to key safety and security challenges facing Africa and they request us to conduct research and when I look at all these things they are talking about, I can clearly see that if indeed the African leaders are communicating with and sharing ideas on safety and security in Africa.

“I’m saying this because I’m happy because they constitute the basics of our MoU. Perhaps, an important task that we need to start to look into as part of the MoU is how can we get into the African Union research agenda and make sure that we contribute extensively”.

Stressing that the MoU should not just end on paper, the dean added that the partnership was an excellent one given that the said department has always raised the bar as the best in the faculty, especially in the areas of research.

Also speaking, the DVC, Teaching, Learning and Technology, TUT, Prof. Stanley Mukhola, thanked SWAI for embracing the proposal that they can work together in this aspect of safety and security.

“The citizens of Africa wants to be safe all the time. We are working very hard as a faculty and as a university to establish research which is very critical. This is one department that strives in the research agenda. Ours is to do the best we can, so we are there for you. And the purpose of this is also to be in partnership with our colleagues who are here today because we can’t do this alone. We need other partners to drive the agenda of research, and the community engagement.

“I am very happy this morning that I will be signing this MoU on behalf of the university and to remind us that it’s not just an MoU for the sake of MoU, it must be an MoU that is alive so that by the end of the year we will be able to give tangible output to say this is the MoU that has been signed to ascertain safety and security. This will enable us make a serious effect. We need to make sure that whatever we commit to, we adhere.”

Afterwards in an interview with THISDAY, the HOD, Prof. Jacob Mofokeng, said what they are offering is just a generic qualification, but in terms of short learning programs, they we will be able to streamline the trainings to each country if there is a particular need.

He also talked about the need to have a unified security structure in Africa. He said: “It is indeed right time that we will have to come together as Africa to be able to look at issues affecting Africa. It is definitely. It is very must imperative that we have that unified body that will be able to look at issues and come up with measures and strategies to make Africa a safer continent.”

HEPSA’s Online Expertise

To bring the partnership to bear, the expertise of Higher Education Partners Africa (HEPSA), the online programme manager, for TUT is needed.

According to HEPSA President and COO, Nick Kendall, the Johannesburg-based organisation is an online programme manager that brings education to a much wider community using online modalities that cut across to the international sphere from the borders of SA.

He said: “We feel passionate about the online modalities. Our expertise is bringing the skills and technology to a wider market. For the partnership with TUT, we utilise their academic content and our expertise is to leverage it to an online modality. We are part of a world leading programme manager, Academic Partnerships, an American-based company which has run successfully for the last 20 years. So, we leverage their expertise.”

SWA’s Stance

In his response, Agbambu said he is looking forward to a very successful implementation of the MoU because it will help to improve safety and security in Africa. He said for now, the implementation will start with the security agencies in West Africa; Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia and Sierra Leone.

“Right now, we have gotten several approvals. We are only waiting for this MoU so then we can activate all that has been setup for the startup. I want to promise that it’s not just going to end at the document that will be signed today. We are going to kickoff immediately to ensure that its a reality so that Africa will benefit from this.

“I have also said that there is no meaningful development that can take place in Africa or any part of the world if security is not taken care of. The biggest challenges we have in Africa is the issue of security and I believe that once it’s taken care of, then every other development starts.

“In West Africa, we are happy because we identified this department in this university. I want to say that this is the only university we can boast of that offers security and research programs and traffic management and there are millions of personnel who wants to advance their future if only they can get it.

“That’s why we are happy with this department particularly, with the various programs, the online program and the certification programs coming up. At the end, it’s to have a better Africa and I also key into the slogan of the university which is ‘to empower people’. We want to empower our people to ensure security becomes better in our continent,” he added.

Objectives

Afterwards in an interview with THISDAY, Agbambu gave a breakdown on the modalities of the MoU. Harping on the objective of the programme and partnership, he said: “I believe that for people to actually call themselves professionals, they need to study the field very effectively. In Nigeria, all parts of West Africa, and largely most African countries, in the study of policing, we have police officials who practically did not study policing. And it’s something that you can’t say you are a professional if you don’t understand what you are doing.

“So, we identified a university in South Africa that offers not just degree program but up to masters and doctorate in policing, correctional services and traffic management. We believe that there is need to offer opportunity to the personnel, particularly the police, correctional services and traffic management to study policing and their various fields.

“Again it’s to offer them a better perspective of policing in other environment and be able to see policing in a global view. In line with our vision of Africa being able to solve its own problem; many a times you see African countries invite police experts from the European or Americans to come and conduct a training or the other for police personnel in Africa, without them understanding the internal mechanism of the society. There is no way you can successfully operate as a policeman if you don’t understand the locality from where you are operating.

“Hence there is need to understand the sentiments of the people that you are to police. And that’s why we believe that an African university that can help to coach and educate our people in practical policing and proper policing would be of an advantage.”

MoU Procedure

On the procedures taken before signing the MoU and what it portends he said: “The signing ceremony which we just witnessed took almost a whole year before coming to being, if not more. This was because, so many areas had to be considered. First and foremost, the university offered the idea which we accepted, but there are other areas bothering on due diligence they needed to check.

“The genuineness and authenticity of our organisation and capabilities. Then it went through the test, from the mechanism of the university and then the standard, before it was finally approved that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should be prepared, which was prepared to incorporate various forms of training.

“This is because we believe that we have large number of policeman who did not have the opportunity of going to the university, they do not have degree; and in this age and time where it’s important to advance your studies, we believe that the arrangements which are imbedded in the MoU, which part of it is to carry out online courses for personnel who would be interested in studying policing, is very important. It’s one of the ways we want to educate them.

“Another is, quarterly certification course on specific security challenges that confronts Africa. Mind you, our idea is to localise. Have a common ideology in the whole of Africa, irrespective of the peculiarities associated with individual countries. There are general issues that has to be looked into, such as human rights abuse and the likes. And all these have been captured in the MoU, which is why we came to sign so that the proper implementation of the spirit of the MoU can be carried out.”

Funding

One of the most important aspects of the training is the issue of funding for the courses. On who funds the policemen Agbambu said: “We are currently in discussions with three police agencies spread across Nigeria, Ghana and the Gambia. In Ghana, the system is slightly different from what we have in Nigeria. In Nigeria, for any police officer who wants to advance himself or herself, they have to personally fund it. In Ghana system, policeman who wants to advance himself can seek for advice on funding from the system. And once it’s approved they should be provided. The same in the Gambia.

“Incidentally, the largest number of policemen are in Nigeria. For instance, Lagos Police Command has over 28,000 police officers. Whereas, in Ghana; the whole of Ghana put together, their police is not up to 25,000. Perhaps, that’s why it’s easy for other countries to fund the training for their police. However, for Nigeria, those who wants to personally develop themselves, the current Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, being someone that has also undergone several of these courses though self-sponsorship, has expressed his support of sponsorship for officers who are willing to take the training for personal self improvement.

“It’s in the area of the courses and seminars that the police as a body would be sponsoring them. But for those who wants to go for three courses, or a quarterly certification training would have to cater for themselves.”

On affordability Agbambu said: It’s one of the things that we worked out. Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, is one of the universities that believes in free education. In fact, currently, 90 per cent of the resident students of the school are on free education. They believe that people must not pay through their noses to acquire free education. Hence with the partnership, we have had an understanding that since these individuals are paying by themselves, the fees would not be so much. And the beauty in it is that, it is also spread overtime.

“There is a partner known as the Higher Education Partners Africa, which is also partnering the university and has designed a model to help the funding and the delivery of these courses to the people much easier and cheaper.”

Possible Challenges

According to Agbambu, the only challenge they are likely to face would be the issue of technology. This is because technology should be available for these students in their localities and various places where they are serving to be able to do online courses and the likes.

“We have identified this as a challenge, and in two weeks time, we would be returning to South Africa to see how we can get support for every student who indicates interest to study, so to make the technology easier for them.

“And when we talk about these technologies, the tools are one, the energy itself to power the tools is another one. Environment is also another issue and many more. Hence we have set a goal of four weeks period, to solve all these hurdles of the issue of funding, making it much easier for the people, and also the issue of technology to handle it. But I bet you, that it’s something that would be very affordable and the process of payment would be much more easier for them,” he divulged.

Incorporating Correctional Services, Traffic Agencies

Incidentally, he said Nigeria has a peculiar situation. “The Nigerian Police, which is the lead agency in the entire security, has a traffic unit. But some states in Nigeria have also set up some traffic management agencies themselves. We have spoken to some of those states that have traffic management agencies and they have expressed willingness that that would like their officers who are interested, to take up the opportunity.

“For correctional services, we are to approach them to see. Because in actually facts, South Africa has one of the models in terms of correctional services. Hence we believe that, it’s not enough for people to go and study and get a degree, but there is need to emulate the pattern of South Africa correctional services which is today, closed to what is practiced globally.

“In Nigeria, we don’t have such yet because of some obvious reasons. We believe that the opportunities that this MoU offers would help to expose the personnels of Nigerian Correctional Service to the modern ways of handling their jobs”, he clarified.

Modalities

On whether the students would have need to come to South Africa, Agbambu said they

will because, unlike other online courses that is done in some places. “We believe that there is need for the students to have a feel of the environment. It does a lot for the students themselves. That’s the difference between doing it in far European countries and doing it within Africa, where they would have to meet most of their lectures whom they have been listening to or watching, meet them one on one, and also meet other students themselves and be able to have that impact of friendship. Hence we have designed it in the sense that, periodically as they do their course, they would have to come to South Africa”, he noted.

Touching on the period of the available courses and its timetable, SWA CEO said for the degree programs, it’s a normal four year course. “It’s just exactly how the university program runs. They are only adopting the lectures into online to make it much easier and widely reach other people. And the lectures are at your own convenience. At your own convenience, you log in, listen, do your assignment and submit.

“The current one they are running is a fixed time, but we told them that because of the nature of these people who are already at work, most of them have different work hours, hence it would not work. They listened to us and redefined it to fit into every student’s schedule. But of course, if there is a lecture that has been put on the portal, you must be able to do the assignment within a week and submit, so you can move ahead”.

What to Expect

For students who desire to join the programme, a breakdown of what to expect is necessary. The school offers a Diploma in either Correctional and Rehabilitation Studies, Policing or Traffic Safety and Municipal Police Management. They also offer a National Diploma in either Correctional Services Management, Policing or Road Traffic and Municipal Police Management: Municipal and Traffic Policing.

Also they offer Advanced Diploma in either Correctional and Rehabilitation Studies, Advanced Diploma Policing or Traffic Safety and Municipal Police Management. They also offer the Baccalaureus Technologiae (Bachelor in Technology) in either Policing or Road Traffic and Municipal Police Management: Municipal and Traffic Policing.

For the Master’s Degree, it’s in Policing. They also offer a Magister Technologiae (structured) in Policing, as well as a Doctoral Degree in Policing and a Doctor Technologiae in Policing.

About Security Watch Africa

With a mission to bridge the gap of information that exists between security providers and users; between government and the governed, SWA was formed. This was to provide an avenue for meaningful cross-fertilisation of ideas by security stakeholders.

According to Agbambu, their vision is to see a security conscious African society, governments at all levels and in Africa’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), with the end game being to see well motivated and informed security operatives in Africa.

In doing this, they seek to create security awareness and consciousness through their flagship television programme, which is being beamed to the world on Africa Independent Television (AIT) since 1997, where they extensively discuss and report security related information, issues and events against contemporary realities and experts in the industry present personal and professional opinions on the programme.

Secondly, they have the SWAI Awards which was initiated and inaugurated in 2004, with the aim to recognise, appreciate, encourage and celebrate individuals, governments, agencies, brands and companies who have excelled in security administration, practice and governance in Africa.

Thirdly, the SWAI lecture series which was introduced in 2005 aims at identifying security problems affecting Africa and her people, discussing these problems and proffering actionable solutions. This they do by drawing from the wealth of experience of security decision makers and professionals, both within and outside the continent to facilitate the lectures.