AU Marching Forward to Achieve its Continental Mandate


Ethiopia is getting ready to host the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government as well as the 42nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council from February 15-19, 2023. The summit is expected to discuss on various issues of the continent focusing on ways critical for the speedy implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which has been considered as one of the best achievements registered by the organization to drastically change the lives of millions of Africans. It is believed to create one of biggest free trade area in the world by bringing together 1.3 billion people across 55 countries of the continent with a combined GDP of 3.4 trillion USD. According to World Bank, the full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing and natural resources sectors.  

AfCFTA represents a major opportunity for countries to boost growth, reduce poverty, and broaden economic inclusion, boost Africa’s income by 450 billion USD by 2035 (a gain of 7 percent) while adding 76 billion USD to the income of the rest of the world. It will also increase Africa’s exports by 560 billion, USD mostly in manufacturing. The AfCFTA is expected to integrate and consolidate Africa into a single 2.7 trillion USD market by eliminating many of the barriers to trade present across the Continent. It provides the platform for Africa to diversify its economy and achieve resilience to natural and manmade shocks, including climate change. 

According to ECA, the agreement has, thus far, been signed by fifty-four of the fifty-five African Union (AU) Member States. Forty-four countries have deposited their instrument of ratification. Many consider this as a very encouraging move as it facilitates conducive environment to expedite its implementation.  

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Apart the creations of AfCFTA, several other achievements have also been registered by the continental body particularly over the past two decades in terms of economic development, peace and security, democratization among other things.  

Earlier in January 2013 African Union Summit adopted Agenda 2063 as Africa’s blueprint and master plan for sustainable development and economic growth of the continent. Agenda 2063 focused on 7 pillars for African development including prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance, an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, peaceful and secure Africa, An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics, Africa as a strong, united and influential global player and partner. 

Since its establishment, the AU has now become a continental lead agency to formulate agenda and design making on issues concerning the continent. The AU has accelerated its participation on global affairs upscaling itself as a biggest continental bloc second only to EU. The organization has enabled African states to have a common voice on issues like peace and security, infrastructure and energy, climate change, innovative development financing and several other continental programs.  

The AU has since been able to bring together its 55 member states to take common positions on many critical global issues such as building consensus on UN reforms, the COVID-19 response measures, and financing of African development initiatives. Over the last two decades, the AU was coordinating the efforts of the member states in promoting Agricultural development (food security), fighting crime and violence, environmental sustainability and climate change initiatives, equal opportunity for all, promotion of trade by promoting negotiations on tariffs, financial markets governance and regulation, promotion of FDI, good governance, health services, quality education, promotion of renewable energy, infrastructure development, peaceful negotiation of conflicts and the struggle against terrorism and a host other projects like ICT and transport. 

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The AU has also initiated a number of continental flagship projects including integrated high speed train project, African Commodity Strategy, African Passport and Free Movement, Silencing the Guns, Grand INGA Dam Project, Single African Air Transport and Market, African Financial Institutions, Pan African Network, African Outer Space Strategy, African Virtual and e-university, African Cyber Security and Great African Museum.

The AU is closely working with IGAD on a number of projects that are being conducted in the Horn of Africa including developing early warning systems for drought and conflict mitigation. 

Despite all the above mentioned successes, over the last several years, the AU has encountered a number of challenges related to changes of government through coups. However, it has also established a mechanism aimed at preventing unconstitutional regime changes by rejecting any forces that attempt seize political power through coups by denying membership and other measures on the perpetrators.  

AU in collaboration with other regional blocs has made significant efforts in addressing the situation of unconstitutional changes of government on the continent. Member States have deployed efforts in promoting democracy and good governance, including holding free, fair and transparent elections; and upholding term limits, as per their respective constitutions. 

Africa is already campaigning for a legitimate place in the UNSC to enhance its participation in the UN and other global agencies to advocate for Africa’s socio-economic development and the promotion of peace and development in the continent. Ethiopia and a number of African countries are working on making the world heed to the voices of Africa under the auspices of the AU. Africa is home to more than 1.3 billion and deserves a voice in the UNSC as the AU represents a large proportion of the global population. 


The outcome of this year’s summit is expected to discuss and propose practicable strategies that pave ways for the accelerated and effective implementation of AfCFTA as its contribution to alleviate extreme poverty in the continent.  

Ever since its formation, Ethiopia has been engaged in working towards the promotion of the objectives of the AU by closely working with the continental organization pursuant to the programmatic context of Agenda 2063 by connecting Africa by the Ethiopian Airlines and Group as well as railway and road transport projects, providing clean hydroelectric power to the neighboring countries and by actively participating in building the capacity of various countries on their ability to keep peace and order in Africa particularly through cooperation with the neighboring countries.


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