Accra, Ghana – On Wednesday August 29, representatives from the governments of the United States of America, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Togo participated in a regional border security strategic partners seminar held at the West African Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, which is operated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
The program advanced multilateral cooperation in border security and strategic objectives in partnership with other African nations. The participating nations share a commitment to strengthening border security, regional cooperation, intelligence sharing, and organizational efficiency to combat cross-border crime, drug smuggling, transnational criminal organizations, and human trafficking, among other threats.
Ghana National Security Coordinator, Joshua Kyeremeh, delivered the keynote address to open the event. U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, Christopher J. Lamora, also delivered opening remarks, underscoring the United States’ commitment to the collective security of our African partners.
The program was organized under the auspices of the Government of Ghana’s National Border Security Technical Working Group, in partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection as part of the U.S.-Ghana Security Governance Initiative (SGI). SGI is a partnership between the Government of Ghana and the United States aimed at improving the effectiveness of Ghana’s security sector. The United States also has SGI partnerships with Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia, two of which participated in the Border Security Seminar.
Under SGI, in 2016 Ghana and the United States signed a Joint Country Action Plan (JCAP), which identified three priority areas of the partnership: Maritime Security, Border Security, and Cyber Security. A fourth cross-cutting theme, Administration of Justice, provides holistic coverage on the range of issues that impact these sectors.
Read remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Christopher J. Lamora below.
Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Christopher J. Lamora
on Security Governance Initiative (SGI)
Regional Training Center, Accra
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 | 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
National Security Coordinator Joshua Kyeremeh,
Distinguished partners from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, and Togo,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
AKWAABA! I’ve been in Ghana for just over two months – 2 months yesterday, in fact – and yet I already feel at home here. No doubt those of you from other countries have felt just as welcomed by our Ghanaian friends, for who a warm welcome seems to be an integral part of their national character.
It is an honor to see you all here today, and I’m very pleased that the United States can participate and support this significant border security workshop here at the West African Regional Training Center, in partnership with the Security Governance Initiative.
The Security Governance Initiative, known also as SGI, is a series of bilateral partnerships between the United States and six African partners, some of which are represented here today, that offer a comprehensive approach to improving security sector governance and capacity to address threats.
I was fortunate, in my most recent position in Washington prior to coming here, to have the oversight of SGI as part of my portfolio. An in fact, my first-ever visit to Ghana was last December, when I came to Accra to participate in the SGI partners Seminar. Perhaps some of you from our SGI partner countries were here with me. So SGI has been an important element of my work for the past couple of years, and I truly believe in its goals, objectives, and methodology.
SGI recognizes that African states like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, and Togo are committed to confronting security challenges, and we value our partnership to strengthen security sectors in Africa.
This seminar is one of several concrete examples of the U. S. commitment to our shared vision of strengthening borders to safeguard the security of your peoples and nations.
Cross-border crime, smuggling, transnational criminal organizations, and human trafficking pose threats to our democratic institutions, to our collective security, and to our economic prosperity. We cannot succeed in defeating these threats alone, which is why our partnership is so essential. Border security is a regional and global issue that requires robust intelligence-sharing, interagency cooperation, and most importantly, strong multilateral cooperation.
The United States began our Security Governance Initiative partnership with Ghana in 2015. Since then, we’ve worked together to strengthen Ghana’s maritime, border, and cyber security efforts. We also recognize that a fair, effective, and efficient justice sector is fundamental to achieving sustainable progress in these areas. Therefore, SGI also seeks to promote the legal and judicial reforms so vital to ensure the success of our efforts.
Specifically in the area of border security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has partnered with Ghana’s police, Customs, and Immigration services to form a National Border Security Technical Working Group to implement sound reforms and strengthen these key institutions. The Working Group has made significant progress, some highlights of which include:
- Completing and delivering an assessment of Ghana’s border security to identify priority areas for improvements and cooperation.
- Conducting an audit of the legal framework governing Ghana’s border security agencies. This audit identified gaps in the agencies’ legal authorities, and it recommended legislative action to amend Security Act 526 to explicitly allow for interagency information-sharing.
- Finally, the Working Group developed and recommended a border security framework to the Ghanaian National Security Council. When implemented, the framework will strengthen collaboration and improve border processes for lawful trade and travel.
That we have succeeded in making this progress demonstrates the significant political will within the Government of Ghana to meet its border security challenges. And, I’m optimistic about the even greater progress we can continue to make together.
But while we have accomplished a lot thus far, much work remains to be done. Most importantly, we must move from understanding what changes need to be made, to making the changes a reality. We must move from recommendations to implementation. Attaining our goals will require not only political will, but investments of time, talents and resources by all stakeholders.
To that end, the United States supports moving forward with the recommendations the Border Security Working Group has made, to include amending Security Act 526, and the border security framework. We also strongly support active multi-lateral collaboration and cooperation among Ghana and her regional partners. Today’s seminar marks a truly significant step in that direction.
I close by congratulating each of you for your commitment to promoting the security of your nations. Your efforts are a key part of Africa’s development and transition to attain its fullest economic potential in the 21st century. We’re proud to join you in this transformative journey to ensure that the citizens of your nations enjoy the blessings of safety, security, peace, and prosperity. And together we will do so.
Thank you very much.