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Military Experts Gather in Africa to Develop Communications Network

Military communications experts from Africa, Europe and North America, are finalizing strategies for testing a continental communication network facility. Efam Dovi reports from the Ghanaian capital that the Ghana army and the United States European Command brought the experts together for a conference in Accra.

The conference, Africa Endeavor 2007, is being described as the most powerful security cooperation effort in Africa.

The communications facility will allow organizations and national security institutions throughout Africa to share information. And it will link with institutions outside the continent.

The system forms part of a larger strategy to support the African Union's Standby Force as it responds to crises.

Brigadier General Emmanuel Klutsey of the Ghana army says being able to effectively share information will help better secure the continent.

"How do you circulate information if you cannot use the system that you have? So being secure means that if we have an efficient communication system on the whole of Africa, then it means the least information we will get from country "A", country "A" can pass this information on to the rest of its neighbors," he said.

The Bush administration is creating a new African command to coordinate all U.S. military and security activity in Africa.

Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Warthon is from the U.S. European Command and the exercise director of the conference. He explains how the African Endeavor relates to the new command's mission.

"African Endeavor will probably become one of the premier exercises for the African Command, in that the African Command will have as one of its responsibilities, to assist African nations as we are doing now in developing command and control communications, information systems processes and procedures that will allow it to effectively communicate among itself and with coalition partners," he said.

Warthon says the U.S. also sees the communications facility as a tool in the fight against terrorism.

"We believe that there are certain regions in Africa that will probably will lend itself to the basing of terrorist groups. So again, as we can effectively share information with each other to prevent that from happening here, we think that is a good thing to do and it is part of our mission."

About 100 delegates at the conference will approve test and support plans for the second Africa Endeavor workshop in South Africa later in the year to test the system.