A conversation with President Keïta on security and economic development in Mali and the Sahel region
By Joshua Miller
On September 28, the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings hosted His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, president of Mali and co-founder of the G-5 Sahel, where he presented the efforts in Mali as well as in the Sahel region at large for stabilization and security. The event began with introductory remarks by AGI Director Brahima Coulibaly, followed by keynote remarks by President Keïta. After the remarks, President Keïta joined Brookings President John R. Allen on stage to discuss how it will require interlinking solutions at the nexus of economics, security, state capacity, humanitarian efforts, and international interventions to create a viable future for the region.
In his introductory remarks, Dr. Coulibaly highlighted the complexity of the situation in Mali, which he sees as a global problem, requiring a multifaceted solution involving economic development, social, and cultural interventions. As such, he called for greater global solidarity and support for the local efforts to win the minds and hearts of the populations and to decisively restore peace and stability.
In his remarks, President Keïta described the multitude of challenges contributing to the security crisis in the Sahel, but also emphasized the progress that Mali has made in strengthening the region by working closely with other countries in region, mainly Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. Being newly re-elected, he laid out his vision for peace during his coming term, stressing the need for countries in the Sahel to work together, the positive impact of the G-5 Sahel on development and security, and the important role of the international community:
President Keïta also described his administration’s devotion to gender equality, promoting environmental progress and combating climate change, and better regional economic integration and growth:
After his remarks, President Keïta and Brookings President John R. Allen discussed the nexus between security and development. Allen is a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and former commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, and as part of his post-retirement diplomatic roles, served as the Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL—the insurgency in the Middle East.
Allen began the conversation with President Keïta by asking about the state of security in the Sahel since the 2015 Algiers Peace Accord:
Shifting the conversation to the economic components of governance that can enhance stability, Allen followed up with a question about how Mali is promoting private sector growth and foreign investment:
Taking a question from the audience, Allen asked President Keïta how Mali is taking advantage of the expanding youth demographic within its population:
The event concluded with President John R. Allen and President Keïta agreeing on the importance of international solidarity for addressing the issues of stability and security in the Sahel. They emphasized that international friendships and support are key to any development efforts.