The Negative Costs of Delaying the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises

The African Union (AU) was caught unprepared and highly embarrassed as France, under Operation Serval, managed to stop Jihadi militants from the northern region in their tracks after they launched an offensive bid to take over the running of Mali. France’s response to the conflict was a result of the AU and the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) indecisiveness over a clear response to the ongoing conflict in Mali. Following this embarrassing episode, and the realisation that the proposed African Standby Force (ASF) was still a long way off from being ready, a decision was made to create a rapid reaction force capable of responding swiftly in situations of serious conflicts on the continent. However, two years after the 20th AU Summit of 2013 in Ethiopia, where the idea for the African Capacity for Immediate Responses to Conflict (ACIRC) was proposed, there is still no sign of the force being operational. This despite the fact that the African continent continues to witness ruthless violence against its people in places such the northern parts of Nigeria, where the militant group Boko Haram continues to wreak havoc on a daily basis. This policy brief seeks to examine the factors behind the delay of launching the ACIRC, a force which could contribute positively to addressing some of the conflicts that are occurring on the continent. Due to this delay, African lives continue to be lost daily. The brief will conclude by suggesting that African leaders must intensify their pursuit of having a continental force that could be deployed in conflict areas and would go some way to addressing security challenges on the continent.