A bilateral security governance initiative by the USA and Kenyan governments is set to put in place measures that seek to integrate border management operations to boost trade and ease travel in the country.
The integration will ensure that Kenya manages both legal and illegal movement of people and goods by land, air, sea and rail in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.
In 2014, the former US President Obama, at the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit launched the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), a multi-year effort between the United States, Kenya and five other African countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats.
The SGI identified border management as one of the pillars that can steer the economic growth of Kenya and in turn boost trade partnership between the two countries. Both countries launched a series of actions meant to realize the initiative.
The first step involved formation of a secretariat by the Kenyan Government, namely the Border Management Secretariat (BMS) which, together with the Border Management Committees based in each border point county, is set to change the current border management scenario.
According to the Director of BMS, Kennedy Nyaiyo, the anticipated new set up should consolidate and integrate the various stakeholders in border security.
“These organizations include the immigration department, the Kenya Revenue Authority, Port Health, Border Police Patrol Unit, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), KEPHIS, among other entities that manage our borders,” said Nyaiyo.
Nyaiyo said Kenya is on the road to meet the desired SGI objectives and has already completed a Joint Country Action Plan which was signed during President Obama’s visit in July 2015.
In May this year, the US President Donald Trump too promised that his government would support the Kenyan Government to fight terrorism and sea piracy as a basis for bilateral and collaboration dialogues between the two countries.
Through the SGI, the US government is helping Kenya build capacity through comprehensive trainings to enable her address common security challenges, share information, expertise and lessons learnt.
The trainings are targeting Kenya’s County Commissioners, County Police Commanders and County Information Officers from 21 border counties in a security government initiative and public affairs course
Sponsored by the US Customs and Border Protection Unit in the United States, the trainings, running in four phases began in July this year with the first batch of County Commissioners, County Police Commanders and County Information Officers from Migori, Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Busia and Marsabit spending one week in Tuscon, Arizona where they got to understand how US Borders are managed and ways to prevent potential threats.
Group two flew to Washington DC for the same assignment in the first week of September.
The third batch of CC’s CPC’s and CIO’s from Garissa, Isiolo, Bungoma, Turkana, West Pokot, Wajir , Narok, Homa Bay, Lamu, Mandera and Marsabit Counties left the country for Tuscon, Arizona State on September 13th, 2019.
Group three team were taken through a day’s appraisal workshop in Nairobi before leaving for Tucson where besides boardroom engagements, they had a two day visit to US Mexico border at Nogales City and the headquarters of US Customs Border Protection in Arizona respectively.
At Nogales, the team was received by Mr George Campus, the Assistant Port Director who took the team through step by step operations at the border and how security matters are handled.
According to Nyaiyo, Kenya stands to benefit immensely from the trainings by understanding how customs border protection is able to facilitate trade and travel in a secure environment.
He said the end objective is to have one integrated border control agency in the country that brings together all agencies working at points of entry for purposes of synchronization of different activities, tapping expertise, ease of coordination and overall enhancement of security.
The BMS Director said a key component in the integration process entails optimization of resources including multi-agency investments in upgrade of existing infrastructure, technology and personnel.
He said the trainings were also meant to create synergy among border control security agencies, result in improved targeting of threats, and sharing of information.
A team of legal experts has also been brought on board to look at existing laws with a view to firm them up and come up with strong laws that will streamline and support border management.
The Marsabit County Commissioner (CC), Evans Achoki who led the Kenyan public affairs team said information sharing between agencies operating at our borders was crucial to effective and efficient border management.
The common border threats that formed the basis of the training, include terrorism, human trafficking, trafficking of narcotic substances, cyber threats, public health threats and illegal trade.
The team was in agreement that secure borders will lead to an increase in legitimate trade hence increased revenues to support our economy with no need to ask for aid from outside.
By Roseland Lumwamu/ Donald Ngala