Magazine article Security Management

Is Risk Rising in Africa?

Magazine article Security Management

Is Risk Rising in Africa?

Article excerpt

Few could have anticipated that terrorists would select embassies in Tanzania and Kenya or target tourists in the Ugandan forest. Experts still deem those countries to be at relatively low risk of terrorism, but prospects for doing business safely in Africa are changing; security experts may, therefore, wish to take a fresh look at that continent.

The following is a thumbnail review of African spots of particular note and their prospects for the rest of 1999 and beyond, as presented by Ben Venzke, a Pinkerton Global Intelligence Services consultant who specializes in Africa and the Middle East.

Angola. Angola has taken a major turn for the worse, says Venzke, with the peace process coming to an end in 1998 and the United Nations peace mission pulling out. Rebels there have been making "tremendous gains" recently, but neither they nor government forces have been able to maintain the upper hand. Venzke foresees continued intense fighting, probably dragging on for several more years.

DRC. Venzke describes the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a "nightmare," with the forces of seven different African countries, as well as various rebel groups, doing battle there. Most of the participants are fighting for their "border interests," says Venzke, which "may just tear the country apart." He says that this unrest should extend through 1999.

Republic of Congo. Here, security risks "ebb and flow," says Venzke, with increased fighting in the capital in late 1998 and early 1999. Though Venzke thinks that the situation is unlikely to deteriorate to the extent that it has in the DRC, it eventually "might explode."

Algeria. Long a flash point of terrorism, Algeria is showing "marked improvement," says Venzke, with signs looking favorable for the future. Political murders have plunged. During the month-long Ramadan that began in late 1997 and ended in early 1998, roughly 1,300 people were killed. This past Ramadan saw only about 160 deaths; most victims were members of security forces, not civilians. "These numbers are a sign that government attempts to crack down on militants [are] working," Venzke says. While the situation is still dangerous, Venzke says that prospects for the future are good. …

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