By Martin Igwe, The Director Media & Advocacy, West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA Nigeria)
As a young school leaver conscious of what we were thought in school about the best economy in West Africa, I set out on a risky voyage to Ivory Coast not putting into consideration the risk of arrest by security operatives, trans-border criminals rather to step my toes on Ivorycoast soil and be proud of visiting one of the best African countries from Owode a border community in Badagry West local government of Lagos State, Nigeria. I entered the Republic of Benin, arriving Lakonji, I crossed into Togo a tiny West African country within 2hrs, and I found myself in Alflao town in Togo bordering Ghana.
I was welcomed with Acheke at Elubo border a side dish made from cassava very popular to Ivorians.
From Owode border to Elubo, Ghana/Ivorycoast, I identified one thing happening in all the borders, well organized groups, illegally coordinating movement of goods, crossing people illegally from point A to point B.
Many of them never knew the content of goods they are carrying, what they want is to pay them an agreed finical reward for their service. I realized why those routes remain one of the worst in Africa. Today most of the concerned countries have lost revenues unknowingly made their borders human and drug trafficking hot spot and above all destroyed legitimate economic activities capable of attracting genuine development to the communities.
Concerned Regional bodies in Africa must not watch the remaining borders to be claimed by criminal non-state actors, Sahel region is endowed with great potentials for renewable energy and sits a top some of the largest aquifers on the continent.
Before our very eyes the Sahel region is now ghost of itself almost one of the hottest beds of conflict in African region no thanks to climate change.
Educating border host communities who are not aware of any technological development rather a waiting tool to destroy their own immediate community through ignorantly engaging in human trafficking and other trans-border crime remains a bold step towards checking border insecurity in Africa.