President Uhuru Kenyatta today said that Kenya has established anti-terrorism county action plans to reduce threats to the country.

The President said the fight against terrorism has been devolved through the development of County Action Plans to counter and prevent violent extremism.

The county action plans, tailored to the security needs of each of the 47 counties, are meant to bring together security sector actors covering enforcement agencies, administrators, civil society and citizens to prioritise collective counter terrorism actions that are measurable and time-bound.

The Head of State said the measures to combat violent extremism will be complemented by a student safety and security mechanism developed by the Ministry of Education.

President Kenyatta, who spoke when he opened a counter-terrorism conference at the United Nations Headquarters in Gigiri, said the Student Safety and Security Mechanism will be rolled out in the next few months.

“Its goal is to protect our children from multiple threats to their wellbeing that may make them vulnerable to radicalization,” said the President.

The opening ceremony of the conference dubbed African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and Prevention of Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism was also addressed by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres and African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

President Kenyatta said African countries need to have strong strategies to deal with violent extremism but must also engage capabilities to disengage, rehabilitate and reintegrate those who reject terrorist ideologies.

The President added that terrorism is a Pan-African challenge and as such, Africa must come up with joint responses and solutions.

“I call on the African Union to generate a powerful political consensus for confronting and defeating terrorism and all other forms of violent extremism conducive to terrorism,” said the President.

He said Africa must speak boldly and with one voice, “declaring to the enemies of freedom that we shall not relent and we shall prevail.”

The President said the African Union, the UN and other conference participants should come up with strategies that deny terror groups the space to grow in Africa.

“Discussions and solutions should propose multi-faceted approaches to combating terrorism, extremism and radicalisation that confront the vice on the battlefield, in places of worship, in market squares, in our schools and in our homes,” he said.

President Kenyatta called on African states to enhance both their internal capacities to deal with terrorism as well as their preparedness to deal cross border threats.

He said Africa has the means and the will to defeat terrorism, adding that a win against the vice will be a victory for humanity.

The President said more should be done by African governments to prevent incitement and recruitment to weaken terrorism.

“International bodies, individual governments, civil society, the media, the religious sector and all relevant stakeholders must come together, act in concert and ensure that we channel the immense talents, energy and vigour of our youth to the betterment of the world and to advance the quest for the human race,” said President Kenyatta.

He called on Africans to stand together and never cede any ground to terrorists saying terror groups should not be allowed to hold any territory on the continent.

The President said multi-national military missions that deny terrorists territory need to have strong mandates, appropriate force enablers and multipliers.

He said such forces should be deployed alongside a comprehensive terrorism sanctions regime, and implemented together with a political strategy for stabilisation and the delivery of services to the population if they are to be successful.

On his part, Secretary General Guterres said the UN is fully committed to work with all countries and organisations in the fight against terrorism.

He said the UN supports African leaders who are spearheading solutions facing the African continent and thanked Kenya for hosting the conference.

The AU Chairperson said violent extremism was a threat to Africa and solutions to counter it should also include development, saying that the use of force alone will not curb the problem.

The conference, attended by thousands of participants from across Africa, will run for two days.