Harjit Sajjan says business investment can help war-torn countries like Mali to rebuild

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says business investment has a role to play in helping war-torn countries like Mali recover from conflict.

Sajjan, who announced Canada’s new UN peacekeeping mission in the west African country earlier this week, said broader economic development is also needed, because the military can’t do it on its own.

Sajjan’s assessment comes as Canada’s newly established development finance institution has announced its first private sector partnership. The US$10-million investment by FinDev Canada will bring electricity to millions of poor people in Kenya, in a more stable east Africa.

Sajjan told The Canadian Press on Tuesday after testifying before the House of Commons defence committee, “We have to look at: How do you bring business into this, because they have the ability to look at things a lot differently?”

“It’s not just looking for the military to solve the conflict.”

Sajjan said it is up to private companies to decide whether Mali is safe enough for investment.

“But I think the more security you have in a nation, the better investment is. There are already currently investments going into the nation and hopefully it will grow.”

Earlier this week, Sajjan joined Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in announcing that Canada will contribute to the UN mission in Mali, which is struggling in the aftermath of a jihadist insurgency.Canada’s 12-month commitment will include about 250 personnel, two Chinook transport helicopters and four smaller, armed Griffon helicopters to act as escorts.