The African Union (AU) is a continental union and regional bloc consisting of 55 countries on the continent of Africa.
A bloc is a group of countries or political parties who have joined an alliance, whereby they work together on certain topics for the benefit of each other.
The AU was founded on 9 July 2002 in South Africa. The vision of the African Union is that of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” Put together, the total population of all the countries in the union is thought to stand at around 1.3 billion people.
Why Was The African Union Founded?
The African Union was founded as African countries looked for unity and also economic and social development throughout the continent. One intention of the creation of the bloc was to replace the Organisation of African Unity, an intergovernmental organisation between 1963 & 2002 that aimed to co-ordinate and increase the cooperation between African states.
Some of the key aims of the African Union, as set out in the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union include;
- To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa;
- To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States;
- To accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
- To promote peace, security, and stability on the continent
Makeup of The African Union
The African Union has various organs that govern its activities. These include the Assembly, the Executive Council, the Permanent Representatives’ Committee, the Peace and Security Council, the Court of Justice and the Commission.
The African Union also hosts a Pan-African Parliament – this parliament has the purpose of ‘ensuring the full participation of African peoples’ in the development of the continent of Africa.
Additionally, the African Union has created the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank in order to attempt to promote economic integration and collaboration on the continent.
What Does The African Union Do and What Has It Done?
The African Union aims to carry out its objectives, as described above. The African Union is a relatively new regional bloc, but so far it has provided funding to 47 Sub-Saharan African countries for development, it has promoted the setting up of democracies and it has dealt with conflicts in countries including Sudan.
In particular, the African Union has worked on controlling diseases, including the Ebola outbreak. Additionally, the Union has put emphasis on working on issues regarding animals and wildlife.
The African Union is still growing and developing, having only been launched in 2002. Financial problems have regularly hit the union, with it struggling to fulfil its plan to self-finance. The union’s leadership has also faced criticism in recent years, with it once being called ‘an exclusive club for brutish despots’.
What Is Agenda 2063?
In 2015, Agenda 2063 was adopted. It is a set of initiatives and projects that are currently being implemented by the African Union to help drive economic development, political integration and better gender equality, amongst other aims.
The Agenda includes 15 key projects including the creation of a high-speed train network, the introduction of the African Union passport, the establishment of an African, open distance-learning university and better cooperation between African states on cyber-security.