6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

A Private Policy Roundtable with Ambassador Martin Kimani on Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya and the broader Horn of Africa

On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the Wilson Center’s Africa Program partnered with The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa to host Ambassador Dr. Martin Kimani, Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center Kenya and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary serving as Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Head of Mission to the United Nations at Nairobi for a discussion on “Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism in Kenya and the Broader Horn of Africa.” Mr. Andrew Kamau, Principal Secretary, Kenya State Department of Petroleum, Ministry of Energy & Petroleum also joined the Roundtable. The discussion was attended by policymakers from several U.S. government agencies, including the State Department, USAID, and the Department of Defense, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as stakeholders in the non-profit and media sectors. The discussion covered the state of terrorism in Kenya and the region, the efficacy of current efforts to counter violent extremism and national, regional, and international opportunities to more effectively address ongoing security challenges. Dr. Monde Muyangwa moderated the discussion and Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, President and Chairman of the Board of the Africa Society, offered closing remarks.

On the topic of the state of terrorism in Kenya and the Horn of Africa, participants discussed the progression and rise of terrorism in East Africa in recent decades as well as the current threats facing Kenya and its neighbors. The conversation focused on the threat of al-Shabaab, which is the largest terrorist group in the region and has increasingly become an internal and cross-border threat as the network continues to expand outward from Somalia and recruit within other countries in the Horn of Africa. As a result, Kenya and other East African governments face serious security concerns which must be addressed at both the national and local levels. In discussing these threats, the participants outlined challenges to preventing and reducing the prevalence of terrorist networks and attacks faced by all levels of government, particularly focusing on the challenges and opportunities related to Kenya’s governance structure.

The roundtable discussion highlighted current efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism and the ways in which both the Government of Kenya may strengthen its approach and how the United States can better engage with Kenya in its counter-terrorism efforts. Through the conversation, participants learned that the Government of Kenya is making progress in its efforts through training police on procedures for investigating terrorist attacks, supporting the judiciary in prosecuting suspected terrorists, equipping communities with necessary resources to fight recruitment, and focusing on local solutions. These points raised a conversation on best practices, successful approaches, and fostering partnerships with stakeholders at all levels. Within this focus on approaches, participants discussed the importance of understanding how violent extremism itself plays a larger role in the fight against terrorism in Kenya and how agencies in the country are working to address the issue within current efforts.

Further, the critical roles that economic growth and regional integration play in the fight against terrorism were discussed. The roundtable’s participants concluded that security and economic prosperity were intertwined in this case, discussing how economic growth and business development both impact and are impacted by the success of efforts to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism. To conclude, participants discussed the importance of including all stakeholders—including religious leaders, the private sector, youth, women and civil society– in a holistic approach to combatting terrorism; how current efforts may be sustained; and how U.S.-Kenya and U.S.-Horn of Africa relationships may be refocused on strengthening approaches to remedy the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in the region. 

Speakers

Moderator

Speakers

  • Ambassador Dr. Martin Kimani

    Director of the National Counter Terrorism Center Kenya and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary serving as Kenya’s Permanent Representative and Head of Mission to the United Nations at Nairobi
  • Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater

    CEO and Chairman of the Board of The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa
  • Mr. Andrew Kamau

    Principal Secretary in the State Department of Petroleum, Ministry of Energy & Petroleum, Government of Kenya