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The Fifth National Security Symposium was held at Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College from 15 – 17 May 2017.

The Fifth National Security Symposium was held at Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College (RDFCSC) Nyakinama in Musanze District, under the theme: “Contemporary Security Challenges: The African Perspective". The three days conference, was officially opened on 15 May 2017 and Closed on 17 May 2017 by Hon Minister of Defence, Gen James Kabarebe. The symposium was organized in partnership with the University of Rwanda, with the aim of deliberating on contemporary security issues in Africa. The symposium was an opportunity for Senior Command and Saff Course (SCSC) 05 students to interact with high level policy makers, security practitioners and scholars of security studies, on national, regional and continental security challenges, with a view to developing practical solutions. The symposium mainly recommended ownership of African problems by Africans as prerequisite to peace and sustainable development.

In his opening remarks, the Honorable Minister of Defence, Gen James Kabarebe underlined the relevance of the symposium to College Students: “The symposium on security is an opportunity for the college students to engage in academic and yet practical real life security issues that affect our military profession”, he said. “Many African countries have persistently experienced security challenges such as armed conflicts, terrorism, bad governance, trans-border crimes, to name just a few. These and other human security-related problems in our region and other parts of Africa require appropriate response mechanisms from within Africa itself”, Hon Minister of Defence further noted.

The RDFCSC Commandant, Maj Gen JB Kazura, pointed out that the symposium on security was a critical component of the security studies package taught at the college. With a sense of pride, the Commandant noted: “This symposium is unique in itself, as it forms part of the activities of the 5th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of the RDFCSC since its inauguration on 23 July 2012 by His Excellence Paul Kagame the President of the Republic of Rwanda and Commander in-Chief of RDF. The college does therefore hope that the symposium stimulates and empowers her students in thinking about how to address issues in a broader security context and extract some lessons that will inform their various research studies at the college as well as their future assignments in the field”.

One of the topics discussed was “Contemporary Approaches to Fighting Terrorism: Challenges and Prospects”. Other topics included: “Eradicating Armed Groups in the Great Lakes Region: Strategies, Challenges and Way Forward”; “An Assessment of the UN Peace Support Operations: Successes, Failures and way Forward”; “Cyber Security: a National Security Imperative”; “Climate Change and its Implications for Africa’s Security and Development: Mitigation Strategies, Policy Options and their Implementation Challenges”; “Africa’s Journey towards an Aid Free economy as a Prerequisite for Sustainable Peace, Security and Development: Strategies, Prospects and Challenges”; as well as “Repositioning Africa as an Equal Partner in International Affairs”.

Participants to the Fifth National Security Symposium expressed the crucial need for Africans themselves to own and solve African problems for peace and sustainable development on the continent.

Another observation was that African countries need to develop strong cooperation and collaboration among themselves in order to effectively deal with internal conflicts, armed groups, terrorism and other challenges affecting security on the continent.

During the Symposium, SCSC 05 students had the opportunity to interact with high level policy makers, security practitioners at strategic and operational levels, subject-matter experts and scholars in security studies. By the end of the symposium, the students had not only gained the requisite knowledge and skills, but they had also sharpened their awareness and readiness to pursuing their career development with clarity and understanding of the geo-political nature of contemporary security challenges on our continent.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Hon Louise Mushikiwabo; Hon Minister of Defence, Gen J Kabarebe; and Right Hon Daniel Fred Kidega, Speaker of the East Africa Legislative Assembly; discussing with participants on how to reposition Africa as an equal partner in international affairs.

Hon Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Amb Claver Gatete; Hon Francis Gatare, and Ms Kampeta Sayinzoga; provided insight on the Africa’s journey towards an aid-free economy, as a prerequisite for sustainable peace, security and development.

On the official closing day, the Minister of Defence, Gen James Kabarebe congratulated all participants for the fruitful discussions. “I am confident that the topics that have been discussed here, coupled with the vast knowledge and experience shared by the various speakers, have definitely added on the package students will take home from this college”, Hon Minister Kabarebe observed. “The ideas and strategies devised during this symposium constitute a good basis for further research and actions towards addressing security issues in our respective countries and areas of responsibility”, he added.

The Fifth National Security Symposium was attended by high level distinguished invited guests including Ministers, Ambassadors, Senior Military Commanders, Academics and members of the press. They all joined 25 RDFCSC faculty members and 47 students from 11 countries, namely: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda.