Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2021-05-03

ShieldAfrica: The Benchmark Trade Fair for African Continent

Africa faces several major security challenges. To highlight how the continent can confront the challenges, ShieldAfrica is returning and the 2021 edition will be held from Tuesday 8 to Thursday 10 June at the Abidjan Police School, Cote d’Ivoire and is being sponsored by the Ivorian Ministry of the Interior and Security.
 
By: Sakha Pramod
In an interview with Nation Shield, Fabienne ESKIN, Abidjan Deputy Managing Director of COGES Africa, shared that the event is being held under the theme “New security challenges in African metropolises”. Here state and private actors in the security and defence of the continent will compare their expertise and discover from the exhibitors the solutions adapted to the new challenges posed by the growth of African metropolises. Excerpts:
 
Could you please tell us about ShieldAfrica 2021? Is it a physical or digital event this year?
The 6th edition of ShieldAfrica is a special one as it will take place this year in a context of continuing pandemics and economic crisis. Despite all these constraints when many of the big exhibitions are being cancelled or postponed, we have firmly decided to maintain the event. Indeed, we are convinced of its importance for the African continent. ShieldAfrica is THE African Security & Defence Exhibition of reference. The 2021 edition will be physical and will take place from 8 to 10 June at the Ecole Nationale de Police in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Its objective is to protect the development of Africa, to make it more secure. 
 
We invite Security and Defence players from the continent such as security and defence ministers, chiefs of staff, public procurement managers, directors of national police forces, customs directors, security managers from large industrial groups, security and defence experts, operational staff and users. 
 
Besides visiting stands, participants will be able to watch live demonstrations performed by the Ivorian armed and security forces: Ivorian Special Forces, The National Gendarmerie Intervention Unit (UIGN), Police Search and Assistance Force (FRAP), Group of Military Firemen (GSPM). The final programme of live demonstrations will depend on their availability. 
 
In addition to the physical event, visitors can follow online e-conferences session that will be organised one week before the exhibition, from 31 May to 4 June, and will be dedicated to new security issues in African cities.
 
Could you brief us about your confirmed exhibitors?
International companies from all over the world will present proven and adapted solutions. Among the countries represented, we are pleased to welcome Germany, United States, France, Israel, Pakistan, Czech Republic, UAE, Italy, among others, and exhibitors are continuing to register. We are expecting to have companies from about 20 countries. Here are just some examples of confirmed exhibitors and their activities:
• land mobility (AM General, Arquus, Arzamas Machinery Plant, Excalibur, …), 
•  communication (Airbus, Cogitech, CODAN, …), 
•  clothing (EMD, Asia Hub Limited, …), 
•  armament (Depo, Verney-Carron, …), 
•  anti-drones (Cerbair, Rafael), 
•  maritime (OCEA, Sogena, ...)
The exhibitors’ list is updated regularly and available on the website: https://www.shieldafrica.com/en/exhibiting/exhibitors-list-2021/ 
 
You have rightly said there cannot be development without security. What are the major security threats the African continent is facing?
Among Africa’s major security challenges are protecting States, sensitive facilities and economic exchanges; preserving human wealth, natural resources and environment; strengthening security institutional and private actors, combatting terrorism, piracy, fraud, crime, illicit trafficking and lootings; preventing and controlling natural and industrial disasters. One of the important issues is controlling migratory flows and providing Africans with a digital identity. Finally, one major security challenge is securing African cities.
 
Security of African cities is a major theme, as your cities have been victims of terror attacks. What is the focus here? 
Indeed, the rise of insecurity and violence is one of the major threats resulting from rapid urbanisation. The megacities become hyperconnected, and so are difficult to access and this makes it difficult to anticipate any crisis. In terms of security, how can we ensure that the State of law can anticipate terrorist or black bloc type actions? This challenge can no longer rest primarily on human organisations, but justifies the contribution of technologies: sensors, effectors, presentation centre for the situation and conduct of operations. This is where digital tools come in. Artificial intelligence (AI) will make it possible to sort the masses of data and detect weak signals that humans can miss.
 
Collective security, the right of citizens and the duty of the State, is a fundamental subject which is a field of confrontation for major themes:
- political and societal: where individual freedoms end and where does collective security begin? The State is to legislate. At what point do we consider that collective security is more important than individual freedoms? The subject of facial recognition is a concrete example of this debate.
- no capacity without security industry. Now the crisis has undermined financial resources and qualified human organisations.
- once again, digital and artificial intelligence drives efficiency. 
At ShieldAfrica, exhibitors will offer solutions for securing the cities and for preventing and combatting terror attacks. This theme will be also discussed at e-conferences held during the week before the exhibition and will be dedicated to the following topics: maritime security and port security, security and safety in African cities, cybersecurity and fiduciary security, video protection and ethics.
 
Apart from terror, piracy is a big issue particularly off the Horn of Africa. Is that a major issue being addressed?
Of course, this issue will be discussed as well during ShieldAfrica e-conferences, especially at this one led by GICAN (French Marine Industry Association): “Special case of ports and state action at sea”. 
ShieldAfrica provides solutions adapted to the naval forces in charge of the protection of the exclusive economic zones and the security of the maritime borders. It’s a very important issue for African cities as many of them have a port area and are accessible by sea. The maritime trade is very important for their economy, so it’s mandatory to secure it, to protect it, and to thus protect the access to the cities.
 
Mostly this exhibition is held in Ivory Coast except once in Gabon. Don’t you feel the need to reach out to other countries as the issues pertains to whole of Africa?
First, the main objective of the exhibition is to bring together an international offer as large as possible and to present it to the decision-makers from all over the Africa. For us, that is the most important thing than localisation of the event. That’s why, even if the exhibition takes place in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), all African countries are invited as official delegations or professional visitors. To date, twenty-three Security and Defense official delegations from West, Central and Southern Africa have confirmed their presence. Also, among exhibitors we can also see African companies, for example, from South Africa and Morocco.
 

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