As a young sub-regional organisation created in 2014 to co-ordinate the development and security efforts of its member states – Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad – the G5 Sahel is based on a common ambition that brings together five countries that are close geographically, culturally and historically. It is a firm commitment to jointly and more effectively address common challenges according to the central theme of security and development.
With this in mind, a reference document titled Strategy Development and Security(SDS) was developed between 2014 and 2016 to serve as a basis for the work by G5 Sahel over several years.
At its operational level, the SDS is divided into a three-year Priority Investment Programme, the first phase of which covers the years 2019 to 2021. The activities of the G5 Sahel, based in Nouakchott (Mauritania), focus mainly on four areas of intervention, namely defence and security; governance; resilience and human development; and infrastructure.
The current context, however, which is particularly difficult, has forced an acceleration of the structuring of the G5 Sahel, especially in terms of its security system. In fact, it was necessary to respond urgently to the terrorism threat and that of organised crime, especially in the common border areas.
It is with this in mind that in 2017, the Heads of State decided to create an emergency G5 Sahel joint force, a special force of 5 000 soldiers (1 000 per member country). Its operationalisation is under way and, despite several challenges, it has already conducted several operations in the field.
As part of G5 Sahel’s overall structuring, in line with its SDS, several advances have been made in four areas of intervention, as follows.
Defence and security
- The G5 Sahel now has a Nouakchott-based G5 Sahel Defence College that provides quality training to equip officers from all five countries with a common military doctrine to cope with multiple security problems
- It also set up the Sahelian College of Security (based in Bamako), which provides security training to executives from various sectors
- A regional police school (based in Koundoul, Chad) will provide specific training to national police officers of member countries
- The Rapid Response and Early Action Project, which is already very advanced, consists of training and equipping the special units of the defence and security forces of each of the member countries, with the main objective of contributing to the stabilisation of the sub-region in support of the common force
- The Security Co-operation Platform aims to enable the establishment of an integrated operational information exchange network, and to provide a suitable training framework in the areas of border management
The Sahelian Threat Analysis and Early Warning Centre was initially based in Nouakchott, but has been transferred to Ouagadougou. This centre will work in collaboration with ECOWAS operational structures as part of the architecture promoted by the AU in the fight against terrorism and serious crimes.
- In October 2018, a G5 women’s platform for the Sahel was created, with the mission of integrating gender issues and the specific priorities of women and girls at all levels in the G5 Sahel countries, for harmonious, safe, equitable, inclusive and sustainable development.
- G5 Sahel also has a cell for the Prevention of Radicalisation and the Fight against Violent Extremism (CELLRAD). With its national branches in each country, CELLRAD notably serves as a support/advisory unit for decision-makers in the field of the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism
- It has supported the creation of a youth network and is working to set up the G5 Sahel network of journalists. With regard to youth in particular, an integrated G5 youth strategy for the Sahel has been developed, following a participatory process.
Resilience and human development
Its work focuses on the rehabilitation and enhancement of the resilience of populations, especially in border regions, to combat the effects of climate change, with a view to reducing poverty while ensuring greater participation of women and youth in development.
Thus, in close collaboration with several regional and international organisations (CILSS, ALG and Pan African Agency of the Great Green Wall, CEN-SAD, UEMOA, ECOWAS, WFP, FAO, and so on), G5 Sahel has already carried out several projects in the area of resilience and human development, including a mapping of border areas and their priority needs in terms of access to basic social services; and a diagnostic study of the potential for agricultural products and animals.
G5 Sahel member states have been mandated to prepare projects that promote national products in a bid to enhance food security and regional integration.
The goal is to open the G5 Sahel region by building transport infrastructure, in particular. It is also a question of guaranteeing greater access and autonomy of energy supply throughout G5 Sahel, promoting the use of ICT and facilitating access to potable water. To this end, the following priority actions are scheduled or under way:
- Construction of railway infrastructure linking Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad
- The implementation of the G5 Sahel airline project and the rehabilitation of secondary airports
- Electrification of rural areas in the five G5 Sahel countries and their electrical interconnection
- The realisation of hydraulic infrastructure for supplying water to populations, and agriculture (including cattle)
- The opening up of remote areas through access to new ICT technologies
- The suppression of roaming charges for phone calls between G5 Sahel countries
- The G5 Sahel is also initiating projects in the field of road infrastructure development to provide priority services to enclave areas.
Working in synergy with other sub-regional and regional organisations, the G5 Sahel acts in accordance with the priorities defined by the AU and the UN, namely the 2063 Agenda and the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The challenges are enormous and the populations of G5 Sahel expect concrete results. The organisation works tirelessly with the multifaceted support of partners, particularly that of the AU.