The Sahel region in West Africa is home to complex security and economic challenges. In the countries of the G5 Sahel, regional military and government initiatives are under increasing pressure to find solutions to rising insecurity, conflict, and internal displacement fueled by attacks from extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State as well as the dramatic impacts of climate change.
As part of the process of developing solutions to these challenges, CIPE is working with the Sahel Business Coalition to elevate the voices of businesses in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger to inform regional security and economic policy. On September 8th, CIPE hosted an online panel entitled, “Business for Peace: The Private Sector as an Ally for Regional Resilience in the Sahel,” with G5 Sahel Executive Secretary Maman Sidikou, senior Mauritanian diplomat Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Institut FREE Afrik Board Chair Annick Gouba-Guibal, and Dr. Guevara Yao, Senior Director for West, Central, and North Africa at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The panelists discussed ways that the private sector can be an ally in efforts to counter violent extremism and strengthen regional development. Panelists came with a strong message: the Sahel is greater than the current, pervasive narratives surrounding regional insecurity. There is a rich history of trade and development across the region and there are opportunities for growth. “Don’t box us into security and military interventions,” said Secretary Sidikou. “We are more than that and want much more than just that.”
Panelists also highlighted the need for good governance to encourage private investment, with Ambassador Ould-Abdallah noting, “We need good governance to attract good investments. It cannot be one or the other. We need to work on two legs—you need good business and good security policy.” Annick Gouba-Guibal, Board Chair for Institut FREE Afrik, also emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships as a key part of providing social services and supporting social cohesion. For more information about the event, please check out the full recording above and on YouTube.
Maman Sambo Sidikou is the Executive Secretary of the G5 Sahel. He was appointed by the G5 Sahel heads of State at their summit in Niamey, Niger on 6 February 2018. Prior to his current appointment, Ambassador Sidikou served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) from October 2015 until 31 January 2018.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah is a Senior Mauritanian Diplomat who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, as well Mauritania’s Ambassador in various countries as well as representative at European Union and the United Nations. He became the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, West Africa and later Burundi before retiring. He continued to be active writing on political governance and supporting various UN and AU initiatives across the continent; he founded the regional think-tank C4S and is on the Board of Advisors for the International Peace and Security Institute.
Annick Gouba-Guibal has a multidisciplinary background in modern literature, history and international risk management. She is the founder of the AGC consulting firm, where she specializes in public policy analysis and evaluation and in project management. She has taken the gamble of placing her action at the heart of interactions between stakeholders (governments, international institutions, NGOs, private sector) at multiple decision-making levels, to feed a prospective on thinking about development issues in Europe and Africa. She also chairs the Board of Directors for the FREE Afrik Institute in Burkina Faso.
Dr. Guevera Yao is senior director for West and Central Africa in the U.S.-Africa Business Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Yao oversees programs and policy initiatives to broaden commercial relationships between the U.S. and markets in North, West and Central Africa. He works closely with Chamber member companies and government leaders to deepen and expand commercial relationships. Yao is an economist and policy expert with over 20 years of experience in the areas of economic integration, regional infrastructure development, and trade and finance for a number of developing countries, including Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Hanna Wetters is a Program Officer, Africa at the Center for International Private Enterprise.