The Commonwealth office in the Africa region, in partnership with the British Council and the Multimedia group, has out doored its maiden edition of the Commonwealth Speakers Series in Accra.
Under the theme, “Securing Ghana borders from kidnapping and terrorism”, the forum brought together Ghana’s Ministry of Security, the Ghana Police Service, academics, diplomats, the media, security practitioners and civil society groups, to discuss emerging security lapses and trends in the Africa region.
The event began with a poignant welcome address by the Acting Director of the British Council, Chikodi Onyemerela who spoke of his personal experience of Kidnapping in a country in sub –Saharan Africa.
Narrating the emotional ordeal to the seated audience, Mr Onyemerela spoke of the programme being “a necessary and important debate at a perfect time”.
The occasion was graced by the Minister of State for Security, Bryan Acheampong who represented the Minister for National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director-General of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), COP Maame Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, he spoke of the importance of the Commonwealth and the need for security agencies to work with the media, public and international community to fight kidnapping and terrorism in Ghana.
The high point of the Speakers Series was an engaging panel discussion which was moderated by John Apea, the Africa Coordinator for the Royal Commonwealth Society.
The eminent panel which was made of up the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Andrew Barnes; CID boss; Defence Attaché to the South African High Commission Colonel Lorraine Ndlovu; Political Counsellor to the Canadian High Commission, Pasquale Salvaggio, and the Regional Analyst for WANEP, Mr.Edward Jombla, deliberated at length on the root causes of kidnapping and terrorism in the Africa region.
While the Defence Attaché to the South Africa High Commission spoke of the need to deal with the “root causes of the disease of terrorism and violent extremism”, Mr Barnes spoke of Australia’s focus in fighting violent extremism through capacity building initiatives and the support of the President of Ghana’s “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda.
On her part, the Director-General of the CID spoke of the proliferation of fake news and the need for the public to verify social media news by cross-checking facts and information with the Ghana Police Service.
In conclusion, Mr John Apea spoke of the Commonwealth’s plans to roll out the speaker series on a quarterly basis in Ghana and across the 18 Commonwealth African countries he heads.
Making reference to the opening remarks by the MD of MultiTV, Santokh Singh, on the need for seminars and forums to be more than a “talk shop.”
He concluded, “We intend to walk the talk and promote appropriate policy changes, by producing a Communique which will be distributed to all relevant stakeholders after the event”.