The G5 Sahel and its joint force
On 16 February 2014, the heads of state of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger met in Nouakchott to create the G5 Sahel, a regional body designed to co-ordinate strategies and policies on defence, security, governance, infrastructure and resilience in the Sahel. Its convention was signed in December 2014 and its permanent secretariat, based in Nouakchott, manages its joint operations. The G5 Sahel presidency is rotating and recently passed from Mali to Niger. It officially launched its joint force at an extraordinary summit on 2 July 2017, after receiving support from the UN Security Council on 21 June. In December 2017, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorising UN peacekeepers deployed in Mali to provide the joint force with logistical and operational support. The joint force has been placed under the command of General Didier Dacko from Mali and should eventually comprise some 5 000 soldiers (seven battalions spread over three zones: West, Centre and East). Its headquarters is based in the Malian city Sévaré, near Mopti. Its initial budget is estimated at EUR 450 million, which would cover the cost of setting up command centres, equipping the battalions and paying the operating costs for one year. G5 Sahel countries have each pledged EUR 10 million; Saudi Arabia will contribute USD 100 million, the European Union EUR 50 million and France will provide equipment worth EUR 8 million. Nonetheless, there is still a significant budget shortfall and the question of how the joint force will cover its operating costs – about EUR 120 million per year by some estimates – is also still unresolved. Mobilising the necessary troops that will make up the joint force battalions is yet another challenge.