Africa’s future

2013-05-26 14:00

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Yesterday, the African Union – formerly Organisation of African Unity – celebrated 50 years in uniting the continent. City Press quizzed AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on the organisation’s role, achievements and future.

What is the role of the AU?

It aims to give new impetus to African integration and unity, to resolve conflicts on the continent, to promote a development agenda through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and to develop an institutional architecture that could support the continental programme.

In addition, the approach is founded on greater participation by member states and regional economic communities, the creation of the Pan-African Parliament, an emphasis on the need for civil society involvement and popular participation in the project of African unity and integration.

The first decade of the AU started with debt-reduction and write-off , but expanded to Africa’s positions on trade, emerging issues like 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, with interventions for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and, more recently, Mali and the Central African Republic. In the 1990s there were at least 15 countries involved in some form of conflict. Between 2001 and 2010, this figure has been reduced to five.

What are some of the achievements of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU)/African Union (AU)?

The OAU brought together 32 newly independent African states and representatives from liberation movements still fighting for independence.

The OAU, at its founding conference, named as its first great task the liberation of those still under colonialism.

Emperor Haile Selassie from Ethiopia stated in his opening address of the OAU: ‘Our liberty is meaningless unless all Africans are free.’

The founders achieved this through direct support to liberation movements and by championing the cause of countries still under colonialism and apartheid.

What are the challenges as the first female chairperson of the AU Commission?

It is an opportunity.

The AU, through the heads of state and governments of all African countries, adopted the principle of working towards gender parity.

We see it happening in the AU Commission leadership and already 10 African countries have a more than 30% female representation in Parliament.

We now have two female presidents – in Sierra Leone and Malawi.

This, of course, is not enough.

Having a woman at the helm does give women’s issues greater visibility and, of course, among my priorities for the term is that by the end of 2020 we achieve gender parity in government in most, if not all, countries on the continent.

How do you go about popularising the AU?

A key priority for the AU Commission is to give effect to the undertaking that the AU will be a union of the people.

This means we pay attention to the participation of civil society.

We have to strengthen the Pan-African Parliament, and have to communicate and inform the African citizenry of the activities of their union.

The 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU provides us with such an opportunity.

We have organised celebrations at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, but across the length and breadth of the continent, youth and women, intellectuals, trade unions and business are organising events, and discussing Africa’s past, present and future. Since the beginning of this year, we had workshops and engagements with journalists and communicators, with academics and policy think-tanks, with women and youth on their views of Africa’s vision and future.

During the rest of the yearlong 50th anniversary, we will spare no effort to introduce the union and its programmes to our people.

What are some of the exciting things we should expect from Agenda 2063?

The 50th Summit will issue a declaration that will frame this agenda, but since the beginning of the year and continuing until July’s summit next year, widespread consultations will be done across Africa.

It is an agenda we believe must be bold and visionary, addressing big issues such as infrastructure, industrialisation, economic integration, Africa’s skills revolution and agriculture. The ultimate objective is to chart a path with milestones so that by 2063, and even before, Africa is prosperous, integrated and at peace with itself.

Fifty years of African unity


Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.