The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has successfully held a two-day maiden International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEC) with primary objectives of improving regional development and security through civil-defence partnerships.

The 2022 IDEC, held on 11-12 October, 2022, at Burma Camp in Accra, Ghana, aimed at enhancing combined capabilities of African Armed Forces, to counter the continent’s leading security challenges and also showcase the importance of integrating strategies and solutions across land, sea and air, to solve challenges, such as extremism, cross-border crimes, maritime security and all others in the region.

The conference and exhibition, put together in collaboration with Great Minds Events and the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Institute (GOGMI), brought together 5 Chiefs of Defence Staff, 6 Chiefs of Army, 6 Chiefs of Navy, 6 Chiefs of Air Force, 60 sponsors and exhibitors, 40 Panelists and Speakers with about 40 countries represented.

The opening ceremony of IDEC ’22, under the theme “Strengthening International Collaboration to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Organized Crimes”, had as Guest-of-Honour, the President of Ghana – His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who was represented by Ghana’s Minister for Defence and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bimbilla – Dominic Bingab Aduna Nitiwul.

Delivering his keynote address, Minister Nitiwul stated Ghana government’s expectation of the conference to deliver the establishment of concrete networks at the sub-regional, continental and global levels, to integrate strategies and efforts holistically, and to find meaningful and workable solutions to issues of transnational organized crimes and terrorism.

Asserting that the deepening of global geopolitical divides creates environment of impunity in which State and non-State actors believe they can do whatever they want, he urged participants to be extremely tactful and cautious with their rhetoric, and for public statements to be aimed at reducing tensions, and not to inflame them, as security issues globally have grown more complex and dangerous.

Minister Nitiwul continued that as nations seek to readjust and realign themselves in respect of trade, development and economic growth, transnational organized crimes present a great challenge to the rule of law, socioeconomic development, the protection of human rights and security, undermine people’s quality of life and threaten human security by limiting access to employment and educational opportunities.

The Defence Minister was emphatic that since international trade cannot flourish without a secure sub regional peace and security, whatever measures and strategies are put in place to revive economies would largely depend on cooperation and collaboration of states and institutions, to eradicate the menace of regional instability, in which Armed Forces of countries in the region have a huge stake.

“We need to develop and strengthen legislation to criminalize the laundering of proceeds of crime, train officials and increase the ability to identify and interdict cross-border transportation of illegal cash or other negotiable instruments, as a major step in stopping organized crime in the sub-region and the world at large”, the Minister stated.

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), GAF – Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, referred to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – General Assembly Resolution 55/25 of 2000, supplemented by three protocols, which target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime: a) Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, b) Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, c) Protocol against illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

He said, to attain the theme of IDEC ‘22 requires a multi-dimensional strategy that safeguards citizens, breaks the financial strength of criminals and terrorist networks, disrupts illicit traffic networks, defeats transnational crime organizations, fights corruption, strengthens the rule of law, bolsters judicial systems and improves transparency, all of which calls for concerted efforts to devise and execute a collective strategy.

In an interaction with the press, Admiral Amoama gave the history of IDEC as a 3rd iteration working together with Great Minds Events, which started in 2019 (IMDEC 1), as part of Ghana Navy’s 60th Anniversary celebrations. Two years later IMDEC 2 was also held with the Ghana Navy and Air Force partnering Great Minds Events, at which he expressed the hope to have GAF’s 3 Services (Army, Navy and Air Force) together in a similar event, which culminated into IDEC ‘22.

The CDS adjudged the conference as being very successful and impactful, judging from all accounts from comments expressed by various participants, Very Important Persons (VIPs) and exhibitors.

“From the various presentations and panel discussions, we had panelists sharing what has transpired in their various countries, and so it is a learning process for individual countries to learn from the experiences of other countries, and to apply the methods and strategies in fighting terrorism and transnational organized crimes”, Admiral Amoama stated.

The Chief of the Naval Staff, GAF – Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, in a similar press engagement stated that the purpose of the confab was to bring together Defence Chiefs on the continent and beyond, as well as experts in the field of terrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as industry and solution providers, so that they could interact, network and bring out solutions to deal with these existential threats, that face Africa and in particular, the Sahel, being all aware of the southward drift from the Sahelian region towards the coastal states.

Admiral Yakubu added that in order to deal with the threats, a lot of interventions have been made, but IDEC ‘22 is very special, because it brought together everybody involved in dealing with the situation; that is the operatives, the industry as well as the experts.

“I have attested that the purpose has been achieved, with very high-profile attendees, Ministers of state, Chiefs of Defence and Chiefs of Armies, Navies and Air Forces, as well as delegations from several countries, along with a very well-organized exhibition that has seen the introduction of solutions that can actually help deal with these problems – solutions that we did not know before, and what gladdens my heart is the increased participation of local industry in this exhibition.”

The communication mechanisms deployed at the conference included keynote speeches, panel discussions, breakout sessions and presentations by various industry players and social events.

Views expressed by some participants were in this wise:

The Deputy Chief of Army Staff of Congo Brazzaville – “These events have been very high. My concern is how to deal with root causes of terrorism and transnational organized crimes. Most of the time, when we are dealing with strategies in our respective regions or countries, we use to highlight the root causes of these crimes, however, in implementing our strategy, we forget about the causes and stress on financial support and logistical requirements. But it is very important that at the national or regional levels, we have to deal with the causes in implementing our strategies on terrorism and transnational organized crimes.”

South African Exhibitor – “I would want to stress on technology, interoperability and training, which we have found sometimes to become a challenge. But I would like to congratulate Ghana on how they have come out with this initiative. And we would like to see the initiative translate into technological integration and interoperability, which would enhance the ability to combat terrorism.”

Brigadier General Augustine Asiedu, GAF – “One of the strategies to stop any terrorist group is to identify the source of funding. It is very difficult to know where they are getting their funding from.”

Mr Solomon Ayor, Narcotics Control Commission, Ghana – “One of the main sources of funding transnational organized crime over the world is drugs trafficking. One clear means of funding terrorism is drugs trafficking.”

Dignitaries present at the opening included Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Defence and MP for Atwima Kwanwoma – Kofi Amankwa-Manu, MP for Klottey-Korle and Deputy Ranking Member, Select Committee on Defence and Interior – Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, the Inspector General of Police, Ghana – Commissioner of Police (COP) George Dampare, Chief of Air Staff, GAF – Air Vice Marshal Frank Kofi Hanson and General Officer Commanding, Southern Command, GAF – Brigadier General Michael Ayisi-Amoah (who represented GAF’s Chief of the Army Staff – Major General Thomas Oppong-Peprah.

By Kofi Ampeah-Woode

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