Tuesday, 31 May 2016


The African Union, formerly known as the Organization of African Unity is 53 years. Since its formation by 32 member countries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the union has gone through a number of changes, ranging from change of name to increase in membership.

The AU's objectives as set out in its Charter, are to  among other things promote unity and solidarity of African states; coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.

The vision of the AU is: “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

The question one may ask is, has the Continental organization been able to achieve its aims and objectives taking into consideration its charters, protocols, agreements, treaties and regulations? The answer is an obvious no.

For instance, one of the major challenges that is currently facing the AU is how to fight the insurgence of militants who have risen against its member countries. Despite the numerous security meetings by its leaders, the AU has still not been able to draw any concrete plan of action towards fighting the menace. It is baffling why the AU has not put in place a standby force up to date. It is not strange to wake up everyday to hear of the activities of these unscrupulous organizations which go a long way to affect lives and property on the continent thereby lowering productivity.

One other challenge facing it is youth unemployment. Youth unemployment on the continent as compared to others, is of great worry to many and this if not properly taken care of could become a major security threat.

 When it comes political decision making, one will describe the approach of the AU as reactive rather than proactive. It was disturbing that the AU appeared indecisive on the post election violence in Cote d'Ivoire and the overthrow of  Col. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. The AU is noted to always wait for countries outside Africa to take action on matters affecting its member states before it comes on board or even sit aloof  whiles things fall apart.

The operations and activities of the AU are hardly made known to its citizens. As of June 2014, the AU has 50 treaties, conventions, protocols and charters. These are  meant to affect the lives of its people, but almost all of these documents remain on paper.

It is estimated that by 2030, there will be roughly 24.6 million people entering the job market in sub- Saharan Africa annually. This growth represents two- thirds of the world's entire workforce. Out of this, more than 63% are expected to be people below 35 years.

In 2006, the AU Heads of States and Governments endorsed an African Youth Charter, in Banjul, the Gambia. This document came into force in 2009 and is to span to 2018. This document is meant to address among other problems, youth marginalization, unemployment, illiteracy and crime, but as of today,  it remains on paper with no visible outcome.

How can citizens build a prosperous Africa when major decisions that are made are not properly communicated to them or when their involvement in making and implementing such decisions is negligible?

An AU that is 53 years should be the one that educates its members on what is expected of them through proper communication.

For an effective AU, its leaders must walk the talk, they must get busy getting results rather than putting together just documents, they must be bold to call their members to order when the need be. They must be proactive towards finding solutions to the political, socio-economic, environmental, and the security challenges that confront members countries.

Prosper Dzitse
Ghana's Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth

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