Virtual Pre-Tana Regional Multi-Stakeholders’ Dialogue

Emerging Technologies and their Impact on Peace and Security in Africa

The 10th edition of the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa will take place on 25-28 November 2021 in Bahir Dar in hybrid format under the theme, “Managing Security Threats: Building Resilience for the Africa We Want”. In line with this, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies/IPSS/, as the Tana Forum Secretariat, with the Mission of Japan to the African Union jointly organised a Joint Virtual Multi-stakeholders’ Pre-Tana forum on the topic: “Emerging Technologies and their Impact on Peace and Security in Africa.” The virtual session was held on 14 September 2021.

The emergence of new technologies has created new opportunities in the areas of peace and security especially in conflict prevention, peace operations, peace building. New

technologies have made it possible to collect data in crime and conflict enhancing the efficiency of early warning and response. Peace operations can now be implemented in asymmetric threat environment and monitoring and observation can be performed more efficiently as a result of this advancement. Similarly, they foster the peacebuilding efforts down to local level. In addition, changes in technology have always impacted theatres of war and peace. With such advancement comes the engagement of new technologies such as drones and other modern forms of hybrid warfare that introduces their own set of new challenges. They also carry the potential for adverse effects like the danger posed by the militarization of emerging technologies, especially if used in the context of terrorism. Moreover, cell phones and the Internet in addition to enhancing civic participation and empowerment are increasingly being employed to facilitate conflicts by serving as channel of communication, control public belief, raise awareness on new warfare techniques, documenting intelligence, and taking on cyber-attacks by violent extremists, organized crime and gangs etc.

Just like the rest of the world, emerging technologies are becoming highly influential on the security and stability of African states. Among others, the rapid spread of the internet across the African continent has been heralded as a key driver of prosperity and a sign of the continent’s technological coming of age. Nevertheless, the rapid advancement of technology especially that of the internet across Africa has its own downsides. In addition to the aforementioned benefits and challenges, while 82 percent of the developed countries get access to internet in developed countries the percentage goes to 11 for Africa. Without the necessary infrastructure, gadgets, affordable internet, reliable power and unaffordable costs broadband internet access will remain out of reach for many low-income Africans living in rural areas. Such a digital divide poses its own question on governance. Moreover, the lack of cultural and behavioural changes towards such transformation along with lack of awareness on the impacts of ICT on peace and security and lack of ICT skills and support makes it more challenging.

As the advancement in technologies expand, their benefits and shortcomings foster areas of cooperation at the international level renewing and expanding existing partnerships. Such an opportunity also comes the challenge of African member states and institutions

determining and integrating the role of new technologies in their policies, work and interactions with their partners. It is an exceptional illustration of harmony among all African states on the perception that the continent’s peace and security boldly depend on the new technologies such as Information Communication Technology (ICTs) since the peace and conflict dynamics changed rapidly. This is indeed indebted a great deal to the commitment of many experts and senior officials in the African Union (AU), RECs/RMs, Member States and partners.

One fact remains crucial, the digital revolution’s ultimate legacy will be determined not by technology, but by how it is used. African countries that take advantage of the opportunities and limit the risks inherent in emerging technology may achieve greater peace and stability. Yet many countries could be left behind. As the continent recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, African leaders face a choice between harnessing emerging technology to improve government effectiveness, increase transparency and foster inclusion, or as a tool of repression, division, and conflict. It is with this background that Tana Forum Secretariat in partnership with the Mission of Japan to the African Union is organizing this multi-stakeholders’ Pre-Forum to debate and discuss the impact of technology on peace and security in Africa … Read the full document – here | in case you missed it watch the event – Session I , & Session II .