A decade on, the African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’ blueprint is a mixed bag of outcomes

A decade on, the African Union’s ‘Agenda 2063’ blueprint is a mixed bag of outcomes
The African Union headquarters in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. (Photo: Flickr)

Ten years down the line, the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 is stuttering along, with serious continental issues remaining unresolved. They include acute hunger, poverty, the politics of exclusivity, xenophobia, and the militarisation of societies by both state actors and foreign multinationals.

In 2022, the African Union commemorated its 20 years of existence. By May this year, AU’s Agenda 2063 will be 10 years old, while the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be five. To reinforce its commitment to AfCFTA, the AU has declared the “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation” as its theme for this year.

Agenda 2063, the blueprint for enhancing Africa’s development and integration, has been subjected to scrutiny. A cross-section of Africans are very sceptical, if not pessimistic, about the realisation of the Africa that we want by 2063.

Many consider the agenda to be too ambitious, while others believe 2063 is too far off, thereby making accountability problematic. The AU’s vision for Africa is an elitist project that was adopted without wider consultations. Thus, it is imperative to engage with some of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063.

It is commendable that the AU has delivered its mandate to establish AfCFTA. Efforts are being made by AU member-state actors to boost intra-African trade in the agricultural sector. They are also committed to an African market to drive regional integration and development.

There is also a commitment to deliver on the protocol on digital trade and women and youth trade, which will enhance the financial inclusion of women and the youth. However, Africans need more than “efforts” and “commitments” and expect concrete deliverables.

The majority of Africans are possibly not even aware of the launch of the AU’s passport.

Of the 54 countries that signed the agreement establishing the free trade initiative, seven countries are yet to meet the domestic requirements for its ratification.

Has AfCFTA increased the percentage of intra-African trade? According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), AfCFTA could boost intra-Africa trade by about 33%, but total African exports stands at 14.4%.

Intra-African free trade questions

Further, how keen are the conflict-ravaged Sahel countries on intra-African free trade? China, Russia and Turkey are lurking around them with trade deals.

The AU’s lack of commitment to its Free Movement of Persons Protocol remains a major impediment to AfCFTA’s mission. From Pretoria to Accra, anti-migration sentiments and its institutionalisation have become the new norm, while many African countries pride themselves on effective economic protectionism.

The recent display of extreme nationalism and the racialisation of anti-migration rhetoric by Tunisian President, Kais Saied is the height of diplomatic rascality. It reveals the idiosyncrasies of those driving the African integration agenda.

In respect of the AU’s quest for the formulation of an African commodities strategy for the effective utilisation of the continent’s resource wealth, including extracting higher rents from their commodities and halting capital flights, the regional body still has a long way to go.

Sadly, foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) are still fully in control of resource extraction in Africa. Many of these MNCs continue to collude with state officials to defraud both the resource communities and the states. Resource-rich Nigeria, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have unsavoury stories to tell.

The AU’s transport, infrastructure and energy initiative, and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) have been questioned, particularly due to the bad transport network on the continent. Intra-African movement can be a truly horrible experience due to the non-availability of direct flights.

The interconnectivity of Africa

While the interconnectivity of Africa through an integrated high-speed train network is a sound idea, this may take a while for its actualisation. The plan is to connect 16 landlocked countries to major seaports and neighbouring countries, and to connect capitals across Africa by 2033.

Countries such as Ghana and Morocco that have embraced the idea of a mega-train project are driven by national and not regional concerns. China’s investment in rail across the continent is also in response to Chinese national or Beijing interests.

Access to basic infrastructure such as electricity is also worsening. According to the International Energy Agency, the number of people without electricity, which peaked at 613 million in 2013, has declined steadily to around 572 million in 2019.

While this seems like good news, it is heartbreaking to record such high numbers, particularly considering that millions of South Africans are currently experiencing power outages, popularly called “load shedding”. The AU should be concerned about the energy crisis in its most industrialised country.

The AU’s agenda to deliver on an African passport and achieve free movement of people is one of the most contentious. Indeed, African governments are more engaged in extreme nationalism currently than 10 years ago. The majority of Africans are possibly not even aware of the launch of the AU’s passport.

The richest man in Africa and business heavyweight, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, has in the past required 38 visas for intra-African movement. In 2019, his confusion deepened when he was issued a visa on the AU passport before he was granted entry to Angola.

Depth of structural violence in Africa

The decision to embark on the ambitious “Silencing The Guns By 2020” campaign exposes the AU’s lack of understanding of the depth of structural violence in Africa. The AU, which had aspired to end all wars and conflict, prevent genocide, and stop gender-based violence by 2020, has shifted the deadline for the attainment of a peaceful Africa to 2030.

The Sahel region has become a theatre of armed conflict, while the guns keep blasting close to the AU’s secretariat in Ethiopia. While the AU has invested in peacekeeping missions, concerted efforts should be directed at preventing the outbreak of conflicts.


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Even though inclusiveness is one of the cornerstones of Agenda 2063, state actors have institutionalised poverty and misgovernance, and reinforced politics of exclusivity, leading to the resurgence of coups and the emergence of terrorism and other armed groups that have threatened African security.

For instance, goal one of Agenda 2063 focuses on increasing the standard of living, quality of life and wellbeing of Africans, but at the launch of the agenda in 2013, Africa recorded an 11% unemployment rate, which increased to 15% in 2021.

Can the AU apply more pressure on erring and underperforming national leaders? Several cases of illegitimate tenure elongations and forceful removal of civilian administrations abound in the Sahel.

Therefore, the attainment of Agenda 2063 depends on addressing several national concerns such as acute hunger, poverty, the politics of exclusivity, xenophobia, and the militarisation of societies by state actors and foreign MNCs.

But despite this critical review of the AU’s performance, the fact remains that Africa would have been worse off without the AU. DM

Dr Adeoye O Akinola is Head of Research and Teaching at the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation, University of Johannesburg.



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