Gilles Olakounle Yabi, political analyst, economist, and founder of WATHI, discusses conflict in the Gulf of Guinea. Via YouTube

While countries in the Gulf Of Guinea — including Togo, Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola — face challenges similar to those in the Sahel region, it is important to not take a blanket approach in addressing them and to understand the specificities of each nation’s conflicts and crises, according to Gilles Olakounle Yabi, political analyst, economist, and founder of WATHI — a West African participatory and multidisciplinary think tank.

The Gulf of Guinea is the stretch of coastline between Ghana and Gabon encompassing the islands of São Tomé, Príncipe, and Bioko. It is currently home to tensions in countries including Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon.

While many might focus on innovative solutions when addressing the crises, Yabi said it is more important to start by dealing with the basic problems of political practice in particular.

“We need quality civilian administrations, [and] we also need quality military administration and defense and security forces,” he said, explaining that citizens need to be a part of the process of change within their societies. “To unleash the energy of the people, we need to respect their diversity and understand that all men and women in these countries are the actors of economic and social change.”

In a conversation about how to prevent conflict and build resilience — sponsored by the World Bank and running alongside the bank's Fragility Forum 2020 Virtual Series — Yabi explained what this looks like in the Gulf of Guinea region.

Watch the full interview.

Update, Sept. 3, 2020: This article has been updated to reflect that the Gulf of Guinea is currently home to tensions in countries including Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon.

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