[QODLink]
Inside Story

African Union: Questioning the legacy

As African governments celebrate 50 years of unity, we ask if the AU has really served its people.

Last Modified: 25 May 2013 10:28
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The African Union is celebrating its 50th anniversary, but after half a century is this institution still relevant?

The organisation has promoted solidarity and economic co-operation across the continent, but has it really served the people of Africa?

 I believe that this time, celebrating 50 years of African unity should be a sober moment, not to be championing what has been achieved but looking ahead and ensuring that indeed, this time around, Africa takes the reins of its leaderships.

Adama Gaye, the founder of Newforce Africa

While African leaders meet in Addis Ababa to celebrate their achievements and try to work out a way forward, it is a good time to take stock of the organisation.

Its supporters say the AU has helped draw the continent together while its critics say it is a club of leaders more interested in protecting each other than dealing with problems.

A new report by the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, says the continent is failing to benefit from its huge mineral wealth.

It also says Africa has been riding a wave of rising commodity prices, and with surging Chinese demand for minerals, export prices have been driven to new highs.

That should be good news for African nations.

But the report says that many Africans are still as poor as they ever were - despite their countries' new riches. The reason for that is rising inequality.

Well-managed resource wealth could lift millions of Africans out of poverty but that is not happening. The report identifies two reasons why: First, many foreign companies in Africa are not paying the taxes they should be; Africa loses twice as much in illicit financial outflows as it receives in international aid. And secondly, African countries still export unprocessed raw materials.

Governments and foreign companies should develop ways to process raw materials before export, so that local people benefit, the report says.

So, how successful has the AU been in promoting pan-African unity? And what is its mandate? Has it moved from fostering economic co-operation and integration to conflict resolution? And how successful has it been at both?

To answer these questions, Inside Story, with presenter Stephen Cole, is joined by guests: Shadrack Gutto, a professor of African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa; Adama Gaye, the CEO and founder of Newforce Africa - an Africa China Consulting Group; and Alex Vines, the head of the Africa programme at Chatham House.

"It is an important moment to celebrate ... many things have changed: most of Africa is decolonised, impressive growth rates and there are many less wars and conflicts - so Africa has much to celebrate this Sunday ... this is very much a celebration of the pan-African vision that goes back into the last century."

- Alex Vines, Chatham House

499

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list