Deadline on Africa’s contested borders nears
African countries have only four years from now to resolve their disputed borderlines.
The deadline set for the demarcation or re-fixing of the territorial boundaries that have been disputed by nations is 2027.
This was revealed by Frederic Gateretse Ngoga, a representative of the African Union (AU, during the launch of a peace caravan aimed at addressing the matter.
“This is a complex and expensive matter,” saidNgogaon Sunday.
“The AU iskeen to ensure this is done, even though only a few countries have ratified a convention to itseffect,” he said.
The Niamey Convention, which aims to ensure the peaceful resolution of border disputes, has been signed by 18 out of the 55 AU member states to date.
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And only nine of the signatories have ratified the Convention, none from the seven-nation East African Community (EAC bloc.
Mr Ngoga, who was speaking at the Namanga border town, said for the protocol to come into force, it must be ratified by 15 AU member states.
He said the re-demarcation of the boundaries of African countries stems from the fact that they are a source of conflict.
“A boundary line that is not well demarcated is a source of most border disputes on the continent,” he said.
According to him, currently, there are over 100 border disputes among nations in Africa that can trigger serious conflicts if not resolved.
“Unresolved border issues have the potential to escalate into violence and threaten peace and security,” he observed.
Such crises can also undermine regional integration efforts by “creating insecurity in border communities and the movement of people, goods and services”.
Poorly defined and marked borders in Africa present an impending risk that can derail the desired goal of a more united and prosperous continent.
Within the EAC bloc, at least 22 boundary and territorial disputes—both manifest and latent—have been identified following a study carried out in 2021.
Mr Ngoga, a focal point for the AU Border Programme, said only about 40 percent of the existing border disputes were being resolved but could not say at what stage.
Kenya’s Prime Cabinet SecretaryMusalia Mudavadisaid although the risks of border disputes in the bloc were minimal, they should not be underestimated.
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“Vigilance is essential. There should be joint survey and demarcation teams and peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.
Mr Mudavadi, who once served as Kenya’s Vice President, added that some border disputes in the EAC have been triggered by a lack of joint management of shared natural resources.
His remarks were echoed by the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of Productive, Social, infrastructure, and Political Sectors Andrea Aguer Ariik Malueth.
He said a recent study has revealed that some EAC partner states have experienced varying degrees of intra- and extra-regional border challenges.
The potential for the unresolved issues to escalate into violence and threaten peace, security, and regional integration cannot be ruled out.
The peace caravan and benchmarking tour launched at Namanga border town aimed to promote good neighbourliness among the communities.
The border town between Tanzania and Kenya was used as a showcase in which local communities have lived in harmony, which should be replicated across the region.
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The seven-day caravan involved representatives of the Atekar community, composed of Turkana from Kenya, Toposa (South Sudan, and the Karamajong of Uganda.
Also roped in are the Maasai communities, where the border communities between Kenya, South Sudan, and Uganda will learn from the former about peaceful co-existence.
In some parts of Africa—the EAC bloc included—border conflicts have been aggravated by Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW proliferation.