Kenyan soldiers in Kulbiyow, Somalia, on February 6, 2017.
A joint force of 10 Eastern Africa countries is now fully fledged, setting the pace for the creation of a unified continental military force, Kenya Defence Forces chief Samson Mwathethe said yesterday.
The countries have also established a peace fund that so far has nearly Sh100 million, excluding the total amounts pledged by member States.
The money is to be used for military operations and supporting interventions.
“It is the first regional force on standby. A peace fund was also established and operationalized. It now has Sh97,624,100,” he said.
The other four regional forces in Africa are at various stages of becoming fully fledged.
The military forces were established by economic blocs on the continent – Ecowas, Eccas, Sadc and Narc.
The East Africa Standby Force (EASF) is made up of soldiers from Kenya, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
Mr Mwathethe spoke at the farewell ceremony for EASF Director Issimail Chanfi at the International Peace Support Centre in Karen, Nairobi.
Member countries hold the position on a rotational basis and the new director is from Djibouti.
Danish Ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsens said EASF would help in sustaining peace in the region.
“Denmark is very proud for being engaged with EASF and IPSTC. These institutions are very important players in this region. They are demonstrating that Africa has important tools for peace and security,” she said.
EASF troops are currently serving in Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia as well as the United Nations missions in Darfur and South Sudan.
The EASF secretariat is located in Karen, Nairobi, while the logistics headquarters are in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The desire to have a common defence force in Africa was initially mooted in 2002 during the inaugural AU summit in Durban, South Africa.
The continent’s leaders wanted to no longer depend on countries outside Africa in solving problems that threaten security among member States.