Is Two-decade Too Short to Realize the Hankered Africa Union (AU) ?

Jan 28 , 2023
By Abeselom Samson

From the inception of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) to the Africa Union Commission (AUC) of today, the journey for the continent has not been easy to realise the “Africa we want”. After two decades, peace, trade and security remain the top concerns for Africa.

The Africa Union and its member states tried to establish sound programs and deepened many institutions placed or renewed as many of its leaders transitioned. The continent’s most considerable governance body introduced policy frameworks, but most people are trapped. Poverty is one of these traps.

It has deepened in different forms and formats in many parts of the continent. Inequality creates immense disruption from social, cultural, and economic to politics. It is Africa’s reality.

Issues of poor governance and high corruption are regular in the public news bar. From unconstitutional changes of governments to environmental degradation and desertification, Africa has been portrayed as the “darkest continent.”

Depending on the lens used, the performance of the OUA/AU has been better with the African Union than left alone. Despite several shortcomings, the Commission celebrates “Africa Union at 20” this year.

Conceived in Durban, the Africa Union has achieved a lot in trade, peace and security architecture, although insufficient to address the issues and advance the cause. African leaders and elites produce, adopt and declare a lot of policy formations, reaffirming strategies by establishing the Africa Union Commission.

Commitment towards the new AUC path, built around the pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa, is progressive and driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

Under the Commission, Agenda 2063 is based upon past and existing continental development initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development in Africa (1980) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (2001), now named Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD). It also considers a review of Africa’s development experience, global trends, and possible development scenarios.

For the past two decades, the challenges with the Union have mainly come from cascading and implementing roadmaps and action plans. For instance, the first 10-year implementation plan for Agenda 2063 was expected to accelerate Africa’s political, social, economic, and technological transformation.

Collectively citizens of the continent demanded self-determination, freedom, progress, and collective prosperity. They expect fast-track projects and initiatives which are supposed to be implemented. Action plans and programs must be in line for the growth and transformation of the continent. But some development programs and projects are still in limbo.

For the Africa we want, time flies, but it is not too late. Africa still has time to revitalise its progress. The Union needs to accelerate and allocate resources with a high level of political will and commitment to transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.

Africa needs to question the pace and the progress it has made in the past and convene a message with the priority areas outlined in the 50-year framework document. We need to evaluate progress in human capital development, agricultural value addition and agro-businesses development.

We need to work on employment generation, especially the youth and females, provide social protection and promote gender development, youth empowerment, and good governance. Nurturing capable institutions, building infrastructural development, and advancing science, technology, and innovation are the works that need to be accomplished.

The past two decades' progress can be considered a baseline to reaffirm and continue the adoption and implementation of ratified instruments, protocols, and treaties to promote good governance.

The AU needs to promote human rights and the inclusion of women and youth in its programs. The institution must strengthen conflict resolution and peace-building efforts by strategic foresight to enhance anticipatory governance capabilities and address governance deficiency.

The continent is expected to achieve its aspirations, formalizing good practices rooted in Africa by recognizing and promoting its Africa-led solutions as crucial assets for the continent across sectors. It needs to encourage African-based values and ethics.

All member states must cooperate in multilateral and bilateral relations, prioritising the interests and needs of the continent. AU must keep its culture of continuous learning to respond to changing contexts as well as to apply best practices. It has to address critical issues for good governance, peace, and security and protect and promote human rights. Issues related to the environment need immediate attention, applying technological solutions to facilitate adaptation, mitigation, and disaster preparedness.

The years ahead may not bode well for the continent with more unconstitutional reforms, civil unrest, and popular uprisings. Africa must experience codified norms, standards and legal frameworks to address such challenges. To entrench a strong culture of human rights practice, the rule of law with a high level of member states’ commitment is vital.

Another critical factor that needs policy formulators’ attention is to question the relevance of policies to the continent. Africa missed a lot of golden opportunities.

In the 1970s and 1980s, most African countries adopted policies that were not Afrocentric and challenging to adapt, such as the structural adjustment program (SAP). It was a program that had put member states into debt crises and opened indirect intervention of fiscal policies to lenders. It could be considered a death trap for Africa’s economic, political and social trenches.

Budget shortages negatively affect the continental agenda and are open to being manipulated by external actors, causing AU’s programs, policies, and operations to be unpredictable. Financial constraints and various interests make it difficult for the Commission to measure the impact of its missions.

The following two decades should behold an Africa that will be self-reliant, mobilizing its human and material resources. Africa is left with 30 years to realise its Agenda for 2063. The Commission is expected to bring political and economic stability across the continent.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 28,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1187]

is the founder and CEO of Shengo Global and a fellow at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). He can be reached at (

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