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An Update on the Security Governance Initiative

How the United States is continuing to work with African partners to improve security and partner capacity to address threats.

At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in August 2014, President Obama announced a new joint effort between the United States and six African partners to improve security sector management and partner capacity to address security threats.  Since then, the Security Governance Initiative (SGI) has been working with Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia to tackle a wide range of security sector governance challenges, from managing an integrated border structure in order to effectively counter terrorist threats, to efficiently distributing defense sector resources, to improving cyber security and combating cybercrime.


Today the State Department, in conjunction with its interagency partners, is releasing the SGI: 2015 Review.  This report provides SGI stakeholders – including our partner governments, other security sector assistance providers, civil society, and the public – a more complete understanding of SGI’s objectives and methodology, and a window into SGI’s ongoing work.  Transparency in security sector management is one of the central tenants of SGI, and we are proud that the SGI team is modeling the transparency we hope to see in our partner governments as part of their security sector reform efforts.  The review complements other outreach regularly undertaken by senior State, Defense, USAID, and other U.S. government colleagues to share SGI efforts and solicit feedback.  You can find the review here.


SGI builds on the robust security sector cooperation we maintain with each of these partner governments.  But SGI is different in that it focuses on building the capacity of institutions that help manage a country’s security sector rather than on providing training or equipment to a country’s security forces.  Not only does this approach support the sustainability of U.S. government assistance programs, but it also helps security forces perform better and helps ensure they act responsibly and accountably to provide security to their citizens.  For example, police who are hired and promoted based on their qualifications rather than their connections or ethnicity are more likely to maintain a sense of accountability to the citizens they serve.  Militaries that maintain efficient supply chains to units in the field will waste fewer resources, freeing up defense resources for other priorities or allowing them to rely less on donor funding.  And ministries that are able to effectively calculate personnel or program costs in the short, medium, and long term can contribute to more transparent government budgets and accountable government spending. 


We are excited about the progress SGI has made already with our partner governments – as reflected in the 2015 Review – but we’re even more excited about what we believe we and our partners can achieve through SGI in the years to come. 


Catherine Byrne is a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs.