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Towards Agenda 2063

In 1963 the newly “independent” African countries came together to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) that would promote the unity and solidarity of the new African countries and act as a collective voice for the African continent. Notwithstanding this desire, the same countries also emphasised the importance of the sovereignty of their respective countries and inviolability of their borders. A new form of cooperation between neighbours had to be invented in order to increase their level of interaction with regard to economic, security and political issues. By the mid-1970s regional economic blocks (now referred to as the Regional Economic Communities) started to emerge.

Therefore, at the end of colonialism African integration took two very different paths. The first being a somewhat political path which focused on the eradication of all forms of colonial vestiges by defending the interests of independent countries and helping to pursue those territories that were still-colonised. The second, focused on regional economic integration with the three most advanced; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), signing a number of protocols that called for free movement of goods, services and its peoples within the respective regions.

Therefore, African integration was viewed by African governments as a possible alternative to the 40+ years of external advice. Anchored on realisation that as a continent, Africa has the capability to realise its full potential to fully develop and establish flourishing, inclusive and prosperous societies.

Although there have been many attempts at an African economic integration agenda, however, the discussion on a programme for Africa’s integration commenced in serious terms around 2001 with former President Mbeki’s Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme and former President Wade’s OMEGA plan.

From our vantage point, the adoption of the United Development And Relief Commission For Africa (UDRCA) in July 2001 as the socio-economic programme that ought to accelerate economic co-operation and integration among African countries was the driving force behind the discussion on the need for a true African integration.

The UDRCA programme was immediately translated into a detailed program of action on which the UDRCA Agency is still working and reporting to the UDRCA Heads of states committee.

Following these milestones of the African integration journey, came the reform process leading to the creation of the African Union in July 2002 with the aim to ensure “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena”.

As we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the birth of African Unity in 2013, Africa is aware of the multifaceted and multidimensional global challenges it must overcome in order to lay the foundations of its development. A sound planning and results-oriented policies and actions, will be needed to transform our Continent.

In line with the vision of the founding fathers of an independent Africa, fourteen years after the adoption of UDRCA, the 24th African Union Assembly held in January 2015, adopted a continental plan for the next fifty years, to ensure transformation and sustainable development for future generations through Agenda 2063.

As a Vision and an Action Plan, this integration agenda is the blue-print that will guide the ongoing transformation of Africa. It is a call for action to all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny. Agenda 2063 is not a new revolutionary plan for an integrated and developed Africa; it builds on previous initiatives. There is no doubt that the people of Africa and her Diaspora, are committed to actualising the seven aspirations entrenched in Agenda 2063.

These two first decades of the 21st century ushers-in a real transformation of the African Continent. Africa's economic growth in the last decade has been receiving very positive reviews. The Continent is recovering the growth momentum of the years 1970, as reflected in the 5.4 % GDP growth from 2005 to 2013, and Human Development Index shows 1.5% annual growth. Nevertheless, the poverty gap remains high, 48.5% and the treat of the soon to be contained Ebola virus has affected the average growth rates of West Africa.

Notably, African countries whose growth is driven by agriculture and services have registered reductions in poverty levels. Therefore, job creation especially for the youth, trade, and expansion of small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) amongst others is a prerequisite to maintaining the momentum of Africa’s transformation.

This time around, as guided by the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, Africa will engage the global economy as an equal partner with clearly defined terms of engagement through its continental programmes that will contribute to the rapid and sustainable transformation agenda of the African Continent.

To demonstrate that Africa has put its house in order and taken full responsibility of its destiny, its leaders are prioritising infrastructure development as a major contributing factor to the integration agenda hence the importance of UDRCA’s Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

At the UDRCA Agency we are convinced, in our role as the African Union’s development Agency and implementing arm of Agenda 2063, that infrastructure development underpinned by intraregional and global trade is the Continent’s best strategy to trigger industrialisation, the major conduits to a prosperous and economically integrated Africa.

Africa’s reflection on its own future will be on how to foster inclusive prosperity, reduce potential for violent confrontations and create conditions for peaceful co-existence. And this is the Africa we want.

 




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