African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addresses the media alongside Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr Aisha Abdullahi on arrival at Harare International Airport yesterday. (Tawanda Mudimu, a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance
Reprinted from Umrabulo
Theoretical Journal of the ANC
As it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, Africa is well placed to develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces. It has the means to invent and reinvent models of equitable growth and sustainable development that will ensure a harmonious future for the generations to come, writes Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The African Union Summit of July 2012 adopted the theme for 2013 as Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance. This coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union and the theme therefore also frames the yearlong anniversary celebrations.
This paper on the theme is a discussion paper, an aid for ongoing inputs, debates and discussions. It acknowledges that Pan Africanism and African Renaissance as a paradigm has rich historical, cultural, regional, gendered, thematic and sectoral dimensions, which are and continue to be the product of vibrant debate, inputs, praxis and research by all sectors of African society and the Diaspora.
The widespread discussions on Pan Africanism and African Renaissance must assist towards the promotion of African narratives of its history (achievements and challenges); the assessment of Africa's present state, capacities, opportunities and threats; and to develop an African agenda for the next fifty years.
Major themes of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance
Pan Africanism (encapsulating an African Renaissance) is the most comprehensive, ambitious and enduring philosophy and praxis developed and embraced by Africans and people of African descent. In its historical sense, Pan Africanism is the movement of African people against slavery, colonialism and racism, and for freedom, self-determination, equality and independence. It sought to achieve this through unity in action and the solidarity of African people and the Diaspora.
Historians thus trace the evolution of Pan Africanism back to the need for unity in the struggles against slavery, colonialism and racial discrimination, or even further back to the pre-colonial and ancient eras of great African civilisations that emerged through political and economic unity and consolidation to facilitate trade, wealth creation and common defence.
Pan Africanism and African Renaissance draw attention to the African contribution to humanity over the centuries and to the growing body of historical, archaeological, and anthropological evidence of the great civilisations of Egypt, the Nok and the Ashanti; the Empires of the Shongai, Mali and Monomotapa; the Royal Houses of Nubia, d'Oyo, Benin, Kongo, Kanem-Bornu and Dahomey; Abyssinia, and Mapungubwe, to mention a few. This body of evidence also highlights the contributions of Africa to human knowledge, to metallurgy, medicine and mathematics, to the creative arts and astronomy, to agriculture and architecture, to gender equality and governance and a host of other areas of human endeavour.
The ideals of an African Renaissance, a rebirth and regeneration, that draws on the past and on Africa's contribution to humanity, was articulated by Pixley ka Isaka Seme in 1906:
"The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilisation is soon to be added to the world. The African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. (S)he has precious creations of his own, of ivory, of copper and of gold, fine, plated willow-ware and weapons of superior workmanship. Civilisation resembles an organic being in its development - it is born, it perishes, and it can propagate itself. More particularly, it resembles a plant, it takes root in the teeming earth, and when the seeds fall in other soils new varieties sprout up. The most essential departure of this new civilisation is that it shall be thoroughly spiritual and humanistic - indeed a regeneration moral and eternal!
Pan Africanism and African Renaissance reproduce the rich diversity of different regions of the continent, expressed in over one thousand languages, different religions, ways of life and its many, many cultures. This unity in diversity, which forms a key part of the African collective identity, along with the involvement of Africa's people in their own emancipation and reclaiming African history and indigenous knowledge, are central to African confidence in its renaissance.
The unity in diversity of Africa also includes the Diaspora, recognising the impact of the slave trade on the continent's history, the proclamation of the first black republic in Haiti in 1804 and the contributions that African descendants and immigrants in the Diaspora made towards the Pan Africanist struggles.
Among the initiatives that united Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora around the decolonisation project was the convening of the first Pan African Conference in London in 1900, followed by the convening of seven more congresses, with the last in Kampala in 1994.
The congresses, according to founder and organiser WEB Du Bois "kept an idea alive; we have held a great ideal, we have established a continuity and some day when unity and cooperation come, the importance of these early steps will be recognised."
Pan Africanism and African Renaissance therefore incorporate the call for unity in action and the destiny of the African people on the continent and in the Diaspora. It seeks to achieve the liberation of African people and the continent from slavery, racial discrimination, colonialism and neo-colonialism through the political, social and economic integration and unity in action of the continent. At its core Pan Africanism is premised on the conviction that Africa's people together with the African diaspora share not only a common history, but a common destiny.
A further theme of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance is the link between political, social and economic liberation, and the emancipation of women. Scholars and activists have noted the scarcity in accounts of the evolution of Pan Africanism of references to women's contributions. As one writer notes: "One has to look wide and deep to find the women."
And yet in Africa's ancient civilisations across the continent women have played an important role, with reference to such names as Queen Ann Nzinga of Angola, Makeda the Queen of Sheba in Ethiopia, Queen Alyssa of the Carthaginian Empire, Pharaoh Hatshepsut of Egypt, Nehanda of Zimbabwe, YaaAsantewa of the Ashanti Empire, Amina of the Zazzau, Queen Dahia Al-Kahina of Mauretania in Algeria, Manthatisi of the Batlokoa, Buktu of Mali, and many, many other women that held responsibilities in our ancient civilisations. In a similar vein, women, side by side with men, fought and organised in the anti-slavery, anti-colonial and national liberation movements in every corner of the continent and the Diaspora.
Thus, increasingly the struggle for emancipation also came to mean the struggle for emancipation from the second class position women occupied under different forms and expressions of patriarchy.
It was therefore not surprising that the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO) was founded in 1962, a year before the formation of the OAU. PAWO's founding objectives - like that of women's sections of liberation and anti-colonial movements across the continent - included the mobilisation of women side-by-side with their menfolk in the anti-colonial struggles and the struggles for women's emancipation.
The link between the struggle for emancipation of the continent and the emancipation of women has been recognised across the length and breadth of the continent, as these quotes illustrate:
"The emancipation of women is not an act charity, or the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory." Samora Machel, 1973.
"We must understand how the struggle of the Burkinabè woman is part of a worldwide struggle of all women and, beyond that, part of the struggle for the full rehabilitation of our continent. Thus, women's emancipation is at the heart of the question of humanity itself, here and everywhere. The question is thus universal in character." Thomas Sankara, 1987.
The African Charter on Human and People's Rights, adopted in 1981, noted that the OAU Charter stipulates that "freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of the African peoples" and therefore in Article 18 calls on all states to "ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women". The struggles of women and this strand of Pan Africanism thus laid the basis for the comprehensive position of the African Union on gender.
Youth and students too formed an important voice within the Pan Africanist movement, as active participants in the liberation and anti-colonial movements, contributing their energy, creativity and innovation. The Pan African Youth Movement was formed in Conakry, Guinea on 26 April 1962 to create a platform to rally African youth behind the cause of African liberation. The All African Student's Union was formed in 1972 in Accra, Ghana. Frantz Fanon is often quoted in reference to the energy and sense of destiny of African youth and students, when he said that each generation must discover its mission, which it must either fulfil or betray.
The approach to Pan Africanism over the centuries took different forms, but shared a common notion of a united or politically and economically integrated continent with its own institutions. The varied strands of Pan Africanism converged into the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963. When the OAU was established on 25 May 1963, one of its primary objectives was to fast-track the total liberation of Africa from colonialism and all forms of discrimination, including apartheid. The OAU equally aimed at promoting unity, integration and solidarity among African states, as a means of securing Africa's long-term economic and political future. The objectives were stated in Article II of the founding OAU Charter as: (i) to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States; (ii) to coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa; (iii) to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence; (iv) to eradicate all forms of colonialism from Africa; and (v) to promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
To achieve these goals, member states pledged to harmonise their policies in the fields of political and diplomatic cooperation; economic cooperation, including transport and communication; educational and cultural cooperation; health, sanitation, and nutritional cooperation; scientific and technical cooperation; and cooperation for defence and security.
Finally, Pan Africanism and African Renaissance are also underpinned by key value approaches which emerged in practise and struggle. These include the emphasis on solidarity, self-reliance and the unalienable right to self-determination. These values found expression during the decolonisation and national liberation struggles, in key continental documents such as the OAU Charter, the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty, in Africa's interactions with the world, and indeed in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
The OAU's achievements and challenges
Pan Africanism and African Renaissance reflect the historical and contemporary roots of the continent: its ancient history of the rise and fall of great civilisations, its modern history of slavery, colonialism and apartheid and its resistance to these evils. With the formation of the OAU in 1963, Pan Africanism crystallised in the mission to rid the continent of colonialism; in the liberation and anti-colonial movements; in independence and the construction of its modern nation-states; and in the building of a Pan Africanism premised on solidarity, and on political, social and economic emancipation and integration.
Many historians referred to the form that the OAU took in 1963 as the product of a compromise between what was then known as the Casablanca and the Monrovial groups, established as a "Pan African framework for the promotion of cooperation among African states and the total liberation of the continent from colonial rule."
"For the Member States of the OAU, comprising of all independent African States, there was no dispute about the desirability - even the inevitability - of African unity. What was in question was the modality for realising it, the speed with which is should be achieved and the form that it should take.
The OAU model was an attempt to blend commitment to ideals of unity with functionalist pragmatism, which involved a limited ceding of sovereignty. It was hoped that this would lead in the final analysis to a much deeper ceding of sovereignty.
"In the meantime, regional economic cooperation and integration arrangements and a host of institutional mechanisms were established. Unfortunately, African governments took multiple, overlapping memberships in these mechanisms. Many of the institutions set up defined functionalist ends. A few others had a broader remit as inter-governmental organisations of sovereign states performing a sub-regional role similar to the continental one played by the OAU. Significantly, whatever form they took, all the sub-regional cooperation and integration efforts were conceived as part of the broad movement towards the eventual unification of the African continent." (from Chapter 1, Report of the High Level Panel of the Audit of the African Union, December 2007)
How the OAU then went about to achieve its objectives, and the impact of the activities of the Union during the first few decades, has been a subject of both praise and critique.
On the one hand, there is widespread recognition of the pivotal contribution of the OAU to the process of decolonisation of the continent; through its Liberation Committee lending support to anti-colonial and national liberation movements, and ensuring that on the international stage Africa's position on the remaining vestiges of colonialism was made abundantly clear. Its track record on working to create a better life for the people of the continent, on building effective, democratic and inclusive nation-states, on defending the sovereignty of the continent and member states, and on uniting Africa, however remains a matter of fierce disagreement.
The OAU evolved within a particular context: at a continental level, the consolidation and establishment of newly independent states, with a focus on indigenisation of societal institutions, nation-formation and development. It had to contend with colonial boundaries and infrastructure, and social and economic development patterns which bore little semblance to the internal logic of the continent as it had evolved over thousands of years.
These conditions were therefore far from conducive towards setting the continent on the road to true sovereignty and a better life for all its citizens. The challenges facing post-independence Africa and its member states at the formation of the OAU were therefore immense.
At a global level, the OAU was founded in the context of a bipolar world with the escalation of the Cold War. In 1961, two years before the formation of the OAU, eleven African countries were part of the founding 25 countries that formed the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
Thus, the founding charter of the OAU, cognisant of the dangers of neo-colonialism, reaffirmed non-alignment as one of its principles, alongside the principles of sovereignty and self-determination and became an observer in the NAM.
Despite the non-alignment stance, the Cold War presented a major threat to African unity, with the continent as a major battle ground for the two contending superpowers, contributing to civil strife and conflicts.
The 1960s and 70s saw the intensification of the decolonisation process, with more than 20 countries gaining independence during these two decades. The issue confronting the new (and old) independent African states, given the myriad development challenges they faced, was whether state-formation, nation-building and development would be achieved as individual countries or collectively. Thus, what did Pan Africanism mean in practice?
The end of the 1970s saw a greater focus on the economic aspects of Pan Africanism, and the emergence of a strong platform for the economic integration. In 1976, a decision was taken to establish the African Economic Community and the Kinshasa Declaration of the same year laid down formal principles, objectives and strategies for the establishment of the community.
At the 1979 Monrovia Ordinary Session of the OAU, African states, recognising that the effect of unfulfilled promises of global development strategies had been more sharply felt in Africa than in the other continents of the world, adopted guidelines and measures for national and collective self-reliance in economic and social development for the establishment of a new international economic order. The Lagos Plan of Action (1980-2000) was a plan to implement the vision of the Monrovia Declaration, a bold and courageous collective effort to evolve a strategic Africa-led response to the complex development challenges facing the continent. It was a commitment to a path of united action, underpinned by a revamped agenda of economic integration, and was unanimously agreed upon, complete with a phased timeframe and agreed implementation milestones. Elements of the framework and action plan were later carried forward and included in the writing of the Abuja Treaty that came into force in 1994.
Shortly thereafter, the World Bank issued the Berg Report, which "was the diametric opposite to the (Lagos) Plan and the Final Act. It located the source of the economic crisis faced by African countries exclusively in domestic policy and political sources, blaming state interventionism and the attended distorted markets for the difficulties African countries were experiencing." [Olukoshi 2009]
The policy prescript arising from this analysis forced African states into structural adjustment that saw the rolling back of the developmental role of the state, especially with regards to agricultural, industrial and social development, cutting down on social expenditure, while at the same time having to deal with the heavy external debt burden. Within the structural adjustment framework, regional cooperation and integration was not a priority for the Bretton Woods institutions, and in fact was regarded as wasteful and undesirable. The 1980s and its era of structural adjustment programmes was therefore not only a destructive period for the developmental agenda of member countries, but also put a brake on integration initiatives.
The end of the 1980s saw the acceleration of what is now known as globalisation, with its revolution in information and communication technologies and the expansion and power of multinational corporations, ushering in the era of trade and financial liberalisation. This also coincided with end of the Cold War and the marginalisation of Africa in the globalised context.
The 1990s witnessed the resurgence of the African integration and unity agenda. With Namibian independence followed by the end of apartheid in 1994, the decolonisation project that formed a core mandate of the OAU was largely achieved. At a global level, the end of the Cold War also meant geopolitical changes that provided new opportunities and challenges for the continent. The process of globalisation saw greater liberalisation, but also a drive towards regionalisation as a means for countries to mitigate some of the negative effects of global competition and as a means to increase their collective capacities and bargaining powers. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 and the inaction of the world strengthened African resolve to put in place continental peace and security instruments to prevent the recurrence of such grave circumstances, and spurred the inclusion of a commitment to ‘non-indifference' in the AU Constitutive Act.
There was therefore increasingly a drive for the OAU to embolden its focus on social and economic transformation, towards the resolution of other conflicts on the continent, and with a renewed push towards unity and integration, so as to reverse underdevelopment and marginalisation in the world, ever-mindful of Nkrumah's words that Africa must unite or perish.
This process thus saw a reflection on the institutional mandate and capacity of the OAU, and whether in its current form it was able to take the continent to a new level. The 4th Extraordinary Summit of the OAU Assembly, convened in Sirte, Libya in 1999, decided to hold another extraordinary session to "…discuss ways and means of making the OAU effective, to keep pace with political and economic developments taking place in the world and the preparation required of Africa within the context of globalisation, so as to preserve its social, economic and political potentials."
The Sirte Summit again saw a robust debate on the approach to integration and Pan Africanism, but reached consensus on the need for Africa to embark on a transformation towards stronger unity. The summit adopted the Sirte Declaration, which approved the transformation of the OAU into the African Union in 1999, and the acceleration of the implementation of the Abuja Treaty, reinforcing the role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as pillars of the prospective Union. In addition, the Declaration tasked the OAU Chairperson to follow up the issue of Africa's external debt and to convene the already established African Ministerial Conference on Security Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDA) to resolve conflicts in the continent.
Birth of the AU in a changing global order
The African Union therefore emerged as a conscious design to give new impetus to African integration and unity, towards resolving conflicts on the continent, a development agenda through adoption of NEPAD and the development of an institutional architecture that could support the continental programme. In addition, the approach was founded on greater participation by member states and RECs, the creation of the Pan African Parliament, emphasis on the need for involvement of civil society and popular participation in the project of African unity and integration.
Thus the first decade of the AU saw the decision to establish various technical committees, leading to the development of Africa-wide policy frames covering a range of socio-economic and political themes and sectors, with continental policy harmonisation and codification as a central focus. Over the first AU decade, initially starting with the debt reduction and write-off drive, but expanding to Africa's positions on trade, emerging issues such as climate change to more generally Africa's position in the world, the Union facilitated common continental positions, gaining recognition as the premier representative voice of Africa.
In addition, the first decade of the AU also saw the evolution of its Peace and Security Architecture (PSA), with its emphasis on African solutions for African problems. The PSA - although still a work in progress - provides the continent with the infrastructure and capacity to coordinate its collective approaches and responses and to engage with the rest of the world on conflicts on the continent. Although this process during the decade has had some notable achievements, there have also been setbacks and weaknesses, specifically with regard to preventing new conflicts by addressing underlying issues of exclusion and the challenges of post-conflict reconstruction.
The birth of the African Union was articulated as a process of working towards an African Renaissance, recalling the concept used by Booker T Washington at the turn of the previous century, which was subsequently broadened in conceptual terms to mean the exploration of alternative paths to achieving economic transformation and political unity as well as the attainment of a rebirth in the African world.
In more recent times, African Renaissance has become associated with African people (both men and women) and nations overcoming their challenges, thus achieving political, social, cultural, scientific and economic renewal.
In this context, the establishment of a just, inclusive and equitable continental and global order that can be achieved by striving to end violence, all forms of discrimination and poverty has been underscored. At the centre of this is the need for Africans to take pride in their rich and diverse heritage and culture and use this as a foundation for building a better future for the citizens of the continent. In 2013 it is important to popularise these ideas and enable all citizens to engage in robust debate and in action so as to contribute to the current and future development of the continent.
Lessons of African unity after 50 years
The continued existence and growth of the African Union, its organs and policy framework, despite setbacks and challenges, is testimony to the enduring appeal of Pan Africanism and the commitment of African peoples and states over successive generations. We must therefore celebrate this achievement and claim it as a significant milestone for the continent.
We should however reflect on the lessons from the first 50 years of the organisation to prepare for the future. Some of these lessons are:
The consistent opposition to the continent determining its own developmental agenda, with development policies and paradigms imposed from outside. A major reason for this is our inability to fund our own development in the continent, and over-reliance on external finance.
Our less than sterling track record of accountable and people-centred governance, with perceptions that leadership and national elites are not acting in the interests of their countries. In addition, weak institutional development meant that the developmental of the African state has not been fully realised.
A global world order that was not favourable to Africa's sovereignty and its potential to meet the needs of its people, through limited policy space, and lack of voice in international processes and fora.
The impact of conflict and instability has meant a focus on symptoms rather than the root causes of underdevelopment and exclusion.
The need for the reconceptualisation of an African developmental approach and architecture.
The political will to move forward the integration agenda, with member states, RECs and other AU policy organs.
Lack of political will and a sustained moral cause to make documents on slavery and colonialism, including the 1884 Berlin Conference papers, accessible for mass education and conscientisation so as to compel reparations from perpetrators.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary, a stock-taking of continental achievements and key milestones needs to be recorded, enriched, debated and shared with the continent and the world at large.
An era of renaissance and a continent on the rise
Fifty years after the founding of the OAU, Africa is a continent on the rise. Progress on the political, integration and developmental agenda over the last 15 years has seen the continent posting some of the world's fastest economic growth rates. Six of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. There are endless opportunities for Africa to translate its abundant natural resource endowment into broad economic development. Africa's rich natural resources and other endowments, including its human resources, are therefore critical components in the industrial and agricultural developmental processes that should drive economic growth, industrialisation, trade and social transformation.
Africa also has a growing, vibrant, resourceful and youthful population, who are being equipped with critical skills that would be necessary to drive Africa's transformation.
The ICT revolution has been embraced by Africans, particularly the youth, which has spurred innovative approaches to information, micro-finance and the mobilisation of rural producers via the mobile telephone. The rapid expansion of Africa's middle class is bound to spur developments in a range of areas, including the growth of aggregate demand, the private sector and the knowledge economy.
The continent has institutionalised peace and stability, good governance and accountability in many countries through the African Governance and Peace Architectures. By 2012, 33 countries had participated in the African Peer Review Mechanism. Close to 90% of countries in Africa have enjoyed sustained peace and stability during the decade, and continue to do so. At the same time, the continent is continually strengthening its capacity to deal with conflicts.
Indeed the start of new millennium has seen the reawakening of discourse and action on African development and continental renewal. While this has been more prominently articulated by a new corps of African leaders, this development also reflects a new consciousness among Africa's intellectuals and other sectors of civil society.
The common continental objective is to define a trajectory for Africa to extricate itself from the status of developmental laggard.
The core priorities of such an agenda include: development of human resources through health, education and investment in science, technology and innovation; consistent and inclusive democracy; modernisation of African productive forces to aid its industrialisation and revolutionise agriculture and agro-processing to ensure food security; integration including through infrastructure development, free movement of people and goods to grow intra-African trade and investment; and the empowerment and participation of women and youth.
Like the founders of the OAU 50 years ago, we therefore say that today we look to the future calmly, confidently and courageously.
This includes being mindful of the challenges we face, such as: ensuring a sustainable, transformational and inclusive growth trajectory; maintaining peace and preventing conflicts; and implementing the programmes which we decided are critical to Africa's development.
Africa and other regions of the world
We do know that during the 1960s, at the time of the establishment of the OAU, there was great optimism that the continent would perform well. Several African countries were on par or had higher GDP rates than their counterparts in Asia. The GDP per capita of Ghana and South Korea were the same in 1960.
Until 1975, the fastest growing developing country was Gabon. Botswana's growth rate exceeded that of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Thailand. Thirty years ago, China was poorer than Malawi. Despite this potential, Africa was unable to complete the transformation journey that Asia has to a large degree traversed.
This begs the question how Africa today compares with economic development in other developing regions of the world. A few comparative trends are worth mentioning:
Firstly, while African GDP growth matched that of Asia between 2000 and 2011, at 4.4% per annum, African income per capita in the decade since 2000 ($1,100) remains far below other developing regions, at around one third that of Asia ($3,091) and less than a quarter of Latin America ($4,964).
Secondly, manufacturing in Asia over the same period grew at 6%, while African manufacturing grew at 3.3%, though faring better than Latin America whose manufacturing during the same period grew at 2.1%. African manufacturing sector's contribution to GDP at 10.2% in 2010 is also much lower than other developing regions, with Asian manufacturing at 25.9% of GDP and Latin America at 15.3% during the same year.
Thirdly, African exports as a proportion of GDP, though largely still unprocessed minerals and agricultural products, also caught up with Asia, reaching 29.7% of GDP in 2010, as against 30.0% for Asia and 17.7% for Latin America. Latest figures indicate that intra-African trade may reach 13% this year, compared to 52% for Asian countries, and 20% for South America.
Finally, Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) in Africa during the period 2000-2011 has averaged at just above 18% a year as a percentage of GDP, close to Latin America at 19%, but way below Asia, whose investment in productive assets and economic infrastructure as a percentage of GDP averaged at 26.9%.
These figures are important indicators as to how the Asian region managed their economic and development turnaround. It indicates that it is indeed possible for Africa to eradicate poverty and achieve prosperity within five decades.
Towards an African Agenda for 2063
Africa's vision for the next 50 years, as captured in the Constitutive Act of the Union - "An integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena" - presents a continent-wide consensus on where we should be heading to over the next five decades. Based on this vision, Africa aspires to become a new global growth pole; through the implementation of decisions on an African Economic Community with robust intra-African industrialisation, trade and investment, and with countries graduating into robust, inclusive and diverse middle-income economies, having eradicated poverty, achieved significant standards of living and levels of equality.
The AU Summit in July 2012 committed the continent towards the development of a long-term Africa-wide agenda that will ensure that we achieve this vision during the next few decades. The AU Commission, together with its continental strategic partners, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (ADB), are cooperating on the development of an African Agenda 2063, with a view towards widespread inputs from member states, the RECs, civil society, all sectors on the continent and the Diaspora.
The exercise of developing an AU-wide Agenda 2063 is of historical importance, building on the experiences of such continental plans as the Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). It should galvanise and energise all sectors by providing a new drive for Africa's rapid and sustained development. It is an opportunity to provide an inclusive platform for stakeholder engagement, with special regard to the marginalised groups of women, youth and people living with disabilities, in the firm belief that this will be pivotal to the realisation of a better future for the majority of the continent's people.
The discussions on Africa today and Agenda 2063 should consider the positive and negative macro trends that are likely to impact on whether Africa will reach its goal by 2063. These include peace and stability, quality of leadership, state capabilities, higher rates of economic growth and improvements of quality of lives of African citizens and growing activism among Africa's intellectuals, media, women and youth, civil society and the middle strata. There are also negative forces, such as the resurgence of conflicts around identity and resource issues; unequal distribution of national resources; violations of human rights; democratic elections without political and social inclusion; the political economic of growth that is neither inclusive nor leading to industrialisation and economic transformation; rising inequality and social exclusion; and the issue of advocacy of Africa's position in the world.
In addition to these internal trends, there are global trends that are relevant to the discussion, among others the shift from West to East in terms of economic power, and the re-coupling and decoupling of global economic relationships including Africa's with other regions. A second global trend is the emphasis on democracy and human rights.
The global negatives include the current financial crisis and the inability of the West to tame their markets and stabilise their polities; blatant interventionism in the world and in Africa; and the role of new economic actors in Africa.
The discussions on Agenda 2063 should therefore not only take account of the above trends, but also the impact of key drivers on African development and some of the projections for the continent and the world.
These include the shift of economic power from West to East (and other emerging economies) while elements of unipolarity remain; the migration and mobility of production and how Africa can benefit and make use of this trend; the potential of major investment in Africa in infrastructure for driving an industrial revolution on the continent; the impact of the demographic dividend, the status of women's empowerment, a growing middle class and thus the exponential growth in aggregate demand; and the potential for technology to enable Africa to leapfrog development.
What then is to be done? The positive trends and the challenges call for an even more determined approach towards the vision of an integrated, people-centered Africa at peace with itself and taking it rightful place in the world.
Africa has policy frameworks and strategies in a wide range of areas. The challenge is to speed up implementation of those in a manner that foster integration and unity. This should include integrated and determined action in the following clusters of areas:
Build Africa's human capacity through the prioritisation of primary health care and prevention; education, skills development and investment in science and technology, research and innovation; access to clean water, sanitation and shelter with special attention to vulnerable groups.
Revolutionise and expand agricultural production, developing the agro-processing and businesses sectors and infrastructure, increase market access and foster intra-African trade, with specific focus on women in agriculture. Build food security and nutrition through sound environmental and natural resource management, including mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Promote inclusive economic development and industrialisation; the creation of wealth through the acceleration of infrastructure development projects that will aid economic integration; achieve targets of intra-Africa trade and global market access; eradicate gender inequality in the economy; promote intra-Africa tourism, value addition, enhanced public-private partnerships; and the effective, equitable and sustainable utilisation of the continent's mineral and other natural resources.
Promote peace and stability, inclusive governance, democracy, gender equality and human rights as a foundation for inclusion, human security and the development of the continent and its people. Build the capacity of African developmental states, continental institutions, civil society and grassroots movements.
Mainstream the participation of women and the youth in all priorities and activities of the Union and the continent.
Implement strategies of resource mobilisation, including alternative sources of funding and additional funding, to enable Africa finance its programmes and development.
Build a people-centered Union through popular participation in and active communication of the programmes of the African Union, the branding of the Union and participation of member states and other stakeholders in defining and implementing the African agenda.
Strengthen the institutional capacity of the AU Commission, the RECs and other organs, and its relations with strategic and other partners.
In evolving the African Agenda for the next 50 years, we must also be mindful of the statement by the High Level Panel on the Audit of the African Union (2007) that "there is no gainsaying that Africa is in dire need of accelerated continental transformation and integration" and the panel's recommendations on principal benchmarks for African unity and integration. These benchmarks were identified as:
Coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of institutional frameworks.
Popularisation and internalisation of the core values underpinning the Constitutive Act.
Engagement and mobilisation of the peoples of Africa for the unity and integration project.
Free movement of the peoples of Africa.
Rationalisation of the RECs.
Fast tracking the move towards an African Common Market and the African Economic Community.
Acceleration of steps towards the establishment of the continental financial and monetary institutions.
Orientation of the African entrepreneurial elite towards regional and continental investment projects that advance unity and integration.
Finally, a critical element of the positive trajectory of the last decade was the assertion of Africa's agenda on a global scale. The advocacy movement in this regard brought together governments, business, workers, women, youth and other sectors of the population. As elaborated in the NEPAD documents and AU resolutions, Africa's growth and development is in fact in the interest of all of humanity. Strategically packaged and coherently communicated, this message can in fact be embraced by the global community. Inversely, a slackening of such self-assertion can lead to a gradual global de-prioritisation of Africa's interests.
The African agenda must be articulated in a manner that recognises: (a) that the continent must take charge of and lead its own development, including finding the resources to kick start and sustain this development; (b) none of us on the continent can thrive as islands of prosperity; (c) that real progress requires a renewed commitment to integration and to the pooling of the sovereignty of nation-states in the context of regional integration; and (d) using Africa's comparative advantages to define terms of partnership with others rather than merely responding to outside agendas.
Africa is well placed to develop innovative solutions to the challenges it faces. Africa has its own genius, own shared values and resources, be they human or natural, to invent and reinvent models of equitable growth and sustainable development that will ensure a harmonious future for the generations to come.
The celebration of 50 years of the existence of OAU/AU and the theme "Pan Africanism and African Renaissance" provides the continent with a rare occasion to reflect not only on achievements and prospects, but also the challenges still facing the continent with respect to integration and socio-economic development.
The anniversary and theme should be used to build our vision of a People's Union, with dynamic interaction between the Union and its organs and the African citizenry and sectors. To this end, the participatory framework includes targeted stakeholder consultation. It will also require a dedicated communication strategy and focal points with members states, the RECs and civil society.
The African Union therefore calls on historians; workers in all sectors; economists, entrepreneurs and environmental activists; children, youth, the elderly and people of all ages and abilities; men and women; the diaspora and civil society; urban, peri-urban and rural inhabitants; trade unions, trade, professional and business associations; all classes and social strata; the religious communities; cultural workers and activists; intellectuals and academia; development and gender activists; grassroots and community movements; specialists in all fields and all Africans and peoples of African descent wherever they are to contribute to this critical debate with a view towards sustaining the vision and praxis of Pan Africanism and Renaissance throughout all segments of African society.
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** Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is Chairperson of the African Union Commission.