Kenya has called on the international community and African governments to unite in the fight against terror as it steps up the battle against foreign jihadists who are a threat not only to Africa but also Europe.
Nairobi is hosting a three day anti-terror meeting in which more than 300 security experts and civil society organizations from over 30 countries are participating. The aim is to find ways to effectively fight terror groups in Africa. The meeting was opened on Thursday by Kenya's Vice President William Ruto.
"Foreign fighters from far afield, some from Europe, are in the field here in the Horn of Africa," Ruto said and went on to call on African countries and the world to unite and put up a strong fight against terror groups.
"We must multiply these efforts across Africa and the world. If violent extremism is allowed to succeed anywhere; it will eventually turn its attention to other parts of the world," he said.
Combat poverty and equality to combat terrorism
The Nairobi conference came only days after the Kenyan army killed a British national in Lamu County and offered a financial reward of $100,000 (89,000 euros) to anyone providing information about the whereabouts of a Germany national who took part in al-Shabab's attack in Lamu.
Threats posed by terrorist organizations such as al-Shabab and Boko Haram have raised concerns in Africa. The conference is determined to look for root causes and come up with strategies that will crush terror organizations in Africa.
Some experts at the conference suggest that underdevelopment, poverty, inequality and lack of education are factors that incentivize young people to be recruited as jihadists.
Speaking to DW, Peter Kagwanja, an expert on terrorism at the University of Nairobi, said to neutralize terror groups in Africa, governments have first to get rid of those elements and strengthen the capacity of the military, "of the intelligence and other [security] arms of government not only be able to detect but also to deter and punish."
If African governments were to focus on these multiple approaches, they would have a better chance of containing extremism, Kagwanja added.
Training security agencies in counter terrorism
To help East African governments to deal with terror groups effectively, the European Union has now come up with a training program. This will provide security agencies and judiciary systems in respective countries with the investigative and prosecution techniques needed in order to be more effective in their own endeavors to combat terrorism and radicalization.
"it is about enabling the judiciary system and prosecutions to gather better evidence that can be used to prosecute terrorists and also to enhance cooperation including mutual legal cooperation," Uwe Wissenbach, the EU's head of political section in Kenya said in an interview with DW.
Currently, "border prosecution and evidence gathering in particular form of crimes is limited," Wissenbach said.
The program is expected to roll out at the end of the year or early next year. It was initiated by the countries in East Africa affected by cross border terrorism.
The program is hoped to enhance skills and improve the coordination of different agencies. In the past defficiencies in these areas have been seen as loopholes used by terrorists to organize their attacks.