The African Century will be founded on Africa’s ability to find solutions to her own challenges. Her challenges of conflict, of development, her search for peace. African solutions to African challenges. Out of this belief has grown ACCORD’s vision of an Africa Peace Center. A neutral site, in Africa, where the continent’s leaders can forge a passage away from conflict and violence, and towards peace. A vision of the African continent, as it should be – free of violence and economic dependency. Where the resolution of conflict leads to significant economic achievements and a better life for all her people.
The primary objective of the Africa Peace Centre will be to influence political developments on the continent by bringing conflict resolution, dialogue and institutional development to the forefront as an alternative to armed violence and protracted conflict. The Centre will specialise in conflict management, analysis and prevention and will intervene in conflicts through mediation, negotiation, training, research and conflict analysis.
The Africa Peace Centre will be a state-of-the-art complex which will act as a base for high level conflict intervention and continuous research and training. It will also incorporate a resource and documentation centre, a meeting and training centre, a conference venue, 80 guest residences and a number of VIP houses. The complex will also house the ACCORD offices.
The Africa Peace Centre vision has already received the support of key political, business and civil society leaders throughout Africa and the world. ACCORD has forged a partnership with the City of Durban to make the Centre a reality.
Despite significant progress towards peace, Africa remains the most conflict-ridden region of the world and yet, until recently, it was the one region without a Peace Centre. Despite the ongoing conflict, Africa has recorded significant growth in both Gross Domestic Product and Foreign Direct Investment. While this growth has the potential to strike at the root of conflicts and to lift millions out of poverty, it often does not translate into much needed development and at times even fuels the conflict. As a result, Africa will struggle to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals.
The inequality that often characterises poverty in fragile, conflict-ridden states remains a key stumbling block for the continent. Without continued effort and significant investment in conflict resolution, recent gains will be lost and new wars are likely to break out.
These wars have shattered the lives of million of Africans, but have also exacted a heavy economic toll. Recent research by Oxfam and SaferWorld estimate that on average armed conflict shrinks a nation’s economy by 15%.
While there may be short-term economic gain for some within a context of conflict, it is well established that stabile political environments are far more conducive to economic growth and corporate profitability. Recent developments in Kenya show how devastating even short spells of political unrest can be to an economy.
The Africa Peace Centre will foster dialogue and build the capacity in Africa for the prevention of conflicts and, where conflicts do arise, it will provide a facility that can speed up intervention response times thus stemming the escalation of conflict and saving lives.
The Africa Peace Centre will be the first green Peace Centre in the world and is being designed to maintain a high level of self-sufficiency, relying heavily on the use of passive design strategies of climate control complemented by active new technologies for energy supply.
The $40-million Centre will incorporate specialist mediation and training facilities, as well as a peace museum and gardens of reconciliation to drive an extensive public education programme.
The Africa Peace Centre will operate at three levels:
The Centre is being designed to provide a secure facility for the intervention activity (based on learnings from the South African, Burundi, and Congo Peace talks) however it will also be used to host the training programme and house the research facilities (including an extensive library). This combination ensures the most effective use of the facility but also that all these aspects are accessible to the intervention process.
The site which has been earmarked for the Africa Peace Centre is one of the prime pieces of coastal land in South Africa. Occupied for many years by the South African military, the land had great strategic value during World War 2, and was used as a base for the apartheid government’s incursions into Mozambique and elsewhere. There is a beautiful irony in the land now being committed to peace.
ACCORD has already held an architectural competition to select a firm of architects to design the new Centre, which attracted architects from as far afield as Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, the DRC, Malawi and Tanzania. The requirements for the building include a number of interesting aspects – not least of which is the principle of environmentally-sustainable design and low impact.
This is the view from the site. It sits on the end of the Bluff, with a stunning view out to sea, and back at the harbour. Access to the site is still under discussion. Currently a tunnel exists under the harbour entrance, and this is to be rehabilitated as a pedestrian walkway. Arrangements will then be made to get people up to the top via one of a variety of different means.
Recently, ACCORD Staff team took some time out of the office to dream a little. A trip was made across town to the Bluff Headland, proposed new site of the Africa Peace Centre.
There are several old historic buildings on the site. They will be restored and integrated into the design. This one is the old lighthouse (the portion on the left). It was originally a steel structure, and was then ensconced in concrete to support it from the vibrations of the big guns on the military base. In WW2, it was chopped off at the level you see here, to give the guns line of site, as there were fears that a U-Boat would hide in the shadow cast behind the structure. It is a little-known fact that Winston Churchill planned to use the Bluff as a last retreat to fight out the end of WW2, and there is a bunker that is still equipped and set up as it was then for his use.
There is finally a great sense of being on the road to vision becoming reality, down here on the southern tip of Africa. There will be much news on our website in months to come about small and large steps taken in pursuit of the dream. Please return often and join us in being part of it.
The Africa Peace Centre is a project that is endorsed and supported by the City of Durban, and one which will bring international focus and attention to the city on an ongoing basis. The site is amongst Durban’s most highly regarded, and historic pieces of land, and it is apt that it will be shared with a “Garden of Reconciliation” reminding us of how we have overcome the past, and counselling future generations to guard the future jealously.
The above plan identifies current and future Durban landmarks and illustrates how the Centre will integrate with other key attractions and functional parts of the Durban landscape.
The cost of developing the Africa Peace Centre is estimated to be US$40-million. Once operational the centre is estimated to yield a surplus. Revenues will be derived from three major sources:
In each case these revenues result from the Centre’s training and intervention programme activities. As the Centre will remain a not-for-profit entity, all surplus income will be invested in a Rapid Response Fund which will afford the organisation the opportunity for proactive intervention in African conflict situations.