A Closer Look at the Proposed Kenya ‘Anti-Shabaab’ Wall

A Closer Look at the Proposed Kenya ‘Anti-Shabaab’ Wall

Kenya's Anti Shabaab Wall
Great Wall of China

After the al Shabaab attack on Garissa University two weeks ago, Deputy President William Ruto revealed the government’s plan to fence Kenya’s border with Somalia as one of the ways it will employ to fight the on-going terrorism threat.

The Kenya Somali border is used as an entry point for illegal drugs and weapons; exit for Kenyan youth recruited into al Shabaab for militant training in Somalia and their route back to carry out attacks in Kenya.

Most people laughed Ruto’s border barrier idea off but if this is actualized, it will not be the first of its kind in the world. A border barrier is a wall; bern (level or raised space); or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a border:

Kenya Anti-Shabaab Wall
Spain/Morocco Border Fence

History’s most renowned border barrier is the Great Wall of China. Built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China, the wall protected Chinese states and empires against raids and invasions by nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. It is a series of stone, brick, tamped earth and wood walls which were joined together and made bigger and stronger to make what is collectively referred to as the Great Wall of China. Mongol warriors however climbed it and conquered China.

The Berlin Wall was a large concrete wall constructed by East Germany to separate it from West Germany in 1961. It was not enough to keep the West’s capitalism from diluting the East’s communism and the wall came down in 1989.  

The Spain/Morocco border fence is the most well-known in Africa. It keeps African immigrants from illegally getting into Spain.

The Snake of Fire is the 268km South Africa/ Zimbabwe border fence. It was branded so because of the lethal electric shock it administered to anyone who came into contact with it. The wall was erected at Zimbabwe’s independence by the South African apartheid government which feared it posed a threat.

The other Snake of Fire is the barrier between South Africa and Mozambique. It was also put up by the apartheid government which felt that the military government that had come into power in Mozambique was also a threat. The two countries are considering re-erecting the fence but to curb poaching in Kruger National Park this time round.

Morocco has a berm wall made of sand and stone to prevent Saharawi people who live as refugees in Algeria from returning to their homeland.

There are many other border barriers around the world but whose long term effectiveness and implications have been dubious: The United States has fenced its borders to deter Mexican immigrants from entering illegally but people have been through it and back countless times as seen on border patrol television shows.


Kenya's Anti Shabaab Wall
Israel West Bank Wall

The Israeli West Bank Wall is a barrier by Israel separating it from the West Bank. Israel argues it protects its citizens from Palestinian terrorism and bombings have actually decreased with time since its construction. It is an alternation of barbed wire and electronic fencing and eight-meter high stone walls. It reportedly cost Israel $2 million per kilometre to construct its 670 kilometre border barrier and approximately $260 million annually to maintain.

Is a cost that will run into millions- putting up a wall or fencing the border; installing CCTV cameras and motion sensors; private 24/7 security patrolmen; and frequent repairs- something Kenya’s economy can bear?




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