In 2013, the Africa Union marked its 50th anniversary, more than ten years after African leaders rebranded the continental body from the Organisation of African Unity to African Union.
Yet, while OAU/AU provided an ideal framework for the struggle against colonialism and neocolonialism, and Africa’s unity, the body struggled to have a genuinely meaningful impact on the continent’s governance and the well-being of Africans.
Rather than lead the renaissance of a continent emerging from the shadows of years of slavery, colonialism and western pillage, the organisation quickly descended into irrelevance with its bureaucracy, indecisiveness and politicking increasingly alienating African citizens for whom it was established.
In recent years, however, there has been a renewed sense of purpose among African leaders, who seem to be finally getting their act together toward building a pan-African organisation that truly serves Africa.
At the heart of this new effort lies the Institutional Reform of the African Union, which includes making the African Union Commission leaner and realigning the body and its organs to make them result-oriented and more effective, eliminate duplication, and to wean the Union off aid dependence.
Over the weekend, African leaders, meeting during their 11th Extraordinary Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, agreed on a raft of decisions in line with the reform plan, which, if implemented as agreed, will go a long way in building a pan-African body that’s autonomous, effective and relevant to the people of Africa.
While the African Union is not out of the woods yet as there are several issues on which member states will need to move faster to bring about the desired change – such as the 0.2 per cent import levy designed to generate the required resources to make the Union self-relevant, and the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area – yesterday’s unanimous agreement among African leaders on major reform decisions is a step in the right direction.
African leaders now need to honour their word and follow through on their commitments to deliver the Africa we want and deserve.