Promoting defence reform through training schools in Africa


The security forces have a crucial role to play in addressing the security challenges in many African countries. It is important that this role is carried out in accordance with the rule of law and that the forces concerned are aware of their democratic duties and obligations. Training for African security forces needs to be adapted to the specificities and needs of each country if it is to be effective.

Entry point

Recognising that need to adapt, and consequently the need to develop the existing training system, France helped establish and has supported a network of Regionally Oriented National Schools (ENVR, Ecoles Nationales à Vocation Régionale) in francophone African countries since the 1990s. The ENVR are managed on the basis of a close partnership between the host country and France. They offer high levels of training and have a strict selection procedure.

Lessons learned

Importance of the partnership approach — The partner countries and France jointly develop the management and training modalities, and training is conducted jointly by French and African instructors. The ENVR now receive support from other donor countries, and this multilateral co-operation is helping develop the ENVR network.

Breadth of training offered is a strength — The ENVR offer 49 different training courses, which allows them to respond to a large spectrum of needs. Training is organised in four main areas: general training for African sergeants, corporals and officers; training on peace support (for example, peacekeeping and de-mining); specific training (for example, logistics, health and aeronautics); and security training.

Flexibility is important — The network needs to be sufficiently flexible to respond to the changing political and security context. For example, four schools situated in Cote d’Ivoire had to be closed in 2002 because of the worsening Ivorian crisis. In June 2003 the peacekeeping school was transferred to Koulikoro, in Mali, where its training courses have continued.


Since 1998, the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs has contributed to the establishment and functioning of 17 ENVR in eight Western and Central African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo). Each year, on average 1 200 interns from over 30 African countries are trained through the network. The ENVR contributes to the development of a democratic culture and the respect of human rights in African military forces. Moreover, the joint training of members of different armed forces promotes exchanges and a better understanding of the different African military cultures.

Further Resources


Region(s) or Country(ies)