In recent years, Africa has experienced increased growth in extremism. Of the top 10 deadliest extremist groups listed on the Global Terrorism Index 2014, five operate in Africa: Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, AQIM, The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS).
Good Governance Africa’s (GGA) work on national security explores the phenomenon of extremism in order to establish how far governance factors and other contingent reasons may be responsible for the emergence and functioning of extremist groups and consider possible policy interventions that might mitigate the risks of the spread of terrorism.
In June 2018, GGA launched Africa’s first locally-produced publication on the topic, a book entitled "Extremisms in Africa". GGA’s introductory anthology on the topic seeks to understand the phenomenon of extremism from a social sciences and humanities perspective. The publication draws on a diverse set of strengths, embracing journalists, anthropologists, conflict analysts, security sector specialists, academics, researchers and practitioners.
A workshop marking the event invited speakers from the across the continent to share the latest research and findings on the topic of extremism in Africa. ALPS Programme Manager, Leigh Hamilton, and Research Associate, Rami Sayed, presented their findings on growing extremist trends and empowering local communities to prevent extremism in Northern Mozambique.
In 2017, ALPS hired Mr. Sayed as a consultant to conduct a situational analysis in Northern Mozambique. His research determined that Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado presented Islamist militants with an attractive place to both operate and recruit.
Since October 2017, there have been several attacks attributed to home-grown Islamist militants on both government and civilian targets in Cabo Delgado. In response to this growing threat, ALPS has turned its focus on how to empower local communities to prevent violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.
In Mozambique, the following recommendations aim to aid the strengthening of civil society – and thereby strengthening civilian self-protection:
Governments with development funds for Mozambique should increase the percentage allotted to civil society development, which will not only help in mitigating the spread of violent extremism, but also protect other important strides made in development and democratisation in Mozambique since the end of its civil war.
NGOs and CBOs working in Cabo Delgado should set up civil society forums and networks to promote communication, collaboration and learning. They should sponsor regular meetings for the civil society forums to discuss protection-related issues and develop locally-led solutions.
It will be important for the LNG companies to attend forum meetings. At present, the Mozambican government has no clear policy framework governing corporate social responsibility. A clear policy is needed urgently to address community grievances and issues of land resettlement for fishing communities forced inland by the LNG companies.
The civil society forums could also conduct regular dialogue with religious institutions in Cabo Delgado. They could work together with religious institutions promoting tolerance and pluralism, while steering people away from those preaching a more radical or violent interpretation of the faith.