The annual National Security Symposium, has kicked off in customary mode, taking an unflinching look at present, and future challenges to peace and stability, in the expectation that the lessons learned, can point the way to meeting those challenges.
The symposium is hosted by the Rwanda Ministry of Defence, through the Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College (RDFCSC), in collaboration with the University of Rwanda. This year, it is being held at the Ntare Conference Centre.
The two day symposium consciously, brings together the military, academics, policy makers, and other security experts, for a broad discussion on challenges to national, regional and continental security, and how these are affected by the global outlook.
While international in outlook, the annual event, now its nineth year, is unique, in that it may be the only symposium of its kind, which is conceived by an African institution, or state, independent of any external involvement, to look at continental, and global issues, from an African perspective. This year’s theme in particular, “Contemporary Security Challenges: The African Perspective” reflects that particular distinction.
Welcoming the participants, as he opened the start of the symposium, Rwanda’s minister of defence, Major-General, Albert Murasira, noted the importance of bringing together diverse ideas.
“Over the years, the NSS (National Security Symposium) has broadened our perspectives through listening to diverse views from policy makers, security practitioners, subject matter experts and scholars.”
“The continent is facing complex challenges ranging from surge of violent extremism, climate change, food insecurity, cyber security, economic uncertainty, to name a few. These threats create uncertainty to the functioning and survival of our nations. No single country can address them alone” he added.
Among the challenges to be addressed are, “Democracy in Africa: One Size fits all, or Best Fit” tackled on day one, with the Secretary-General of OIF (International Organisation of French speaking nations), Louise Mushikiwabo, Regional Director of the Levy Mwanawasa Centre for Democracy and Good Governance, Dr Jean Paul Kimonyo, University of Lagos, Professor Ademola Kazeem Fayemi, and political scientist, Dr Golooba Mutebi, as panelists.
Over the next couple of days, the security implications for Africa, from climate change, challenges, and opportunities from science and technology, the root causes of extremist terrorism, will be among the subjects under discussion.
The RDFCSC’s mission statement, is “To develop Officers with the highest intellectual and professional standards in command and control of the defence forces, in order to respond effectively to the challenges of the contemporary operating environment”. The institution places great emphasis on the opportunity the symposium affords its students, to challenge, and be challenged, by the ideas from the diverse group of participants.
As well as Rwandans, the college has students from across the continent, including Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda, among others.
To allow as an unfettered exchange of ideas as possible, the practice has been to allow only limited media coverage at the symposia.