Kwame Nkurumah, the most notable of the leaders of pan-African movement, heralded the arrival of “the Union government of Africa” at the 1st summit of the Organization for African Unity OAU, the predecessor of African Union AU by saying:

We have come to the end of a historic and momentous Conference. The decisions we have taken here have made African Unity a reality and we can see clearly a Union Government of Africa in the horizon.”

He was off by 50 years, the time it took for Africa to overcome the colonial hangover and lay a feasible plan to make that happen.

Maybe Nkurumah underestimated the state of ruin of the post-colonial African social structure and the neo-colonial challenges facing Africa. He may have also overestimated the ability of the existing few intellectual elite to drive the post independence agenda and the capacity of Africans to easily overcome inherited colonial ills. Africa took its time to sail through troubled waters to arrive at this point in which she set up a plan for her transformation.

Agenda 2063 is a roadmap that is supposed to guide Africans and their half a century old organization towards a realization of an old but enduring pan-African vision of unity. It was agreed upon by the African Union Golden Jubilee of May 2013 on which the AU rededicated itself to the Pan African vision of ―an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”

The building of the African Economic Community is currently one of the major concerns of the African Union Commission (AUC). The authorities of the Pan-African organization have set many initiatives in motion, among which are: the rationalization and consolidation of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs); the acceleration of the establishment of the institutions provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, including the African Central Bank with the mission of minting the single African currency, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank.

The Commission prepared a draft document of Agenda 2063 that makes all its initiatives part of a coherent roadmap that guides the AU Vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, an Africa driven and managed by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena as their overarching guide for the future of the continent.African railways network (projected)

What is in Agenda 2063?

The draft document summarizes its assessment of Africa’s 50 years journey by highlighting to major transitions out of the many responses African states developed to the exigencies of the times.

The first transition, according to the draft document, came a decade after several African countries gained independence (60s and 70s). In order to advance the agenda for economic emancipation and drawing lessons from the energy crisis of the 1970s, Africa took the strategic decision to pursue continental integration as a strategy for economic development. The various liberation and economic development strategies of the seventies and eighties including the Lagos Plan of Action have their genesis in that transition. This period was also marked by the Bretton Woods agenda on Structural Adjustments, which saw the contraction of African economies with far reaching consequences on critical social sectors.

The second transition occurred in the decade of the 1990s after the end of cold war and the adoption by the OAU of the Declaration of the Fundamental Changes in the World and Africa‘s response. The Declaration encapsulated Africa‘s determination to tackle the peace and security challenges of the continent, including those within nations, to foster democracy and good governance as well as economic development through deepening integration of the continent. After two dead decades of development (80‘s and 90‘s) Africa and the potential for increased marginalization, the continent turned the corner, with a better organized African Union.

Hence, the document states,”Africa used the celebration of half-century of independence to embark on a critical process of stock taking and mapping out a long-term vision. Agenda 2063, an endogenous, shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development for Africa‘s transformation, is therefore a continuation of the Pan African drive, for self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity”

The document is well structured into six chapters. The first chapter gives an introduction into the background that led to the development of this agenda while the second chapter states seven “aspirations” that express African aspirations for 2063. These are:

  • A Prosperous Africa based on Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development
  • An Integrated Continent, Politically United based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism
  • An Africa of Democracy, Respect for Human Rights, Justice and the rule of Law.
  • A Peaceful and Secure Africa
  • An Africa with a strong Cultural Identity, Values and Ethics
  • An Africa of people-driven development relying on the potential of its women & youth; and
  • Africa as a Strong, Resilient and Influential Global Player and Partner

Chapter three gives an overview of Africa’s development dynamics and discusses the scenarios and trends, the challenges & opportunities. In chapter four the document details 18 goals derived from the seven aspirations, priority areas and strategies. Chapter five is a very brief assessment of the “drivers, enablers, risks and mitigation strategies” of Agenda 2063. The last chapter focuses on detailing implementation, monitoring, evaluation, financing, communication & capacities for implementation. The structure of the document has succeeded in making it a readable document in addition to its helpful annexes.

The goals of Agenda 2063

The seven African aspirations are expressed in 18 goals which I tried to summarize below. Agenda 2063 - Aspirations and goals

Goals of Aspiration # 1: The Africa of 2063 would be one of a high standard of living and quality of life and well-being reflected by increased per capita income to a level that is at least 10 times the value of the 2013 level (USD 18782) to USD 18,878 – 20,000. The vision of a prosperous Africa in which its citizens enjoy a life expectancy of above 75 years would be fully realized. With environmentally sustainable and climate resilient economies and communities, Africa in 2063 will be recognized globally as a continent respectful of its environment, ecologically conscious with well-established green economy and green energy. Africa would also be a fully water secure continent by 2030. While continental power pools (e.g. Inga Dam) would be fully functional before 2063 thus making the continent well lit and fully powered.

Goals of Aspiration #2: The emergence of the United States of Africa (federal or confederate) by 2063 as a sovereign, independent, united and strong Africa with an African citizenship, a passport, a Union anthem and flag. There would also be direct election of Members of Parliament to the Union Legislative body and the President of the Union will be elected by universal suffrage. As part of the political evolution to the United States of Africa, key economic institutions and frameworks as the African Common Market (on 2025), Africa Monetary Union (on 2030) Africa Customs Union (on 2019) and Africa Free Trade Areas (on 2017) would have been established and will could be part of governance structure of United States of Africa.

By 2063 the necessary infrastructure (quality and size) be in place to support Africa‘s accelerated growth, technological transformation, trade and development, including: high-speed railway networks, roads, shipping lines, sea and air transport, as well as well-developed ICT and digital economy. A World class infrastructure criss-crosses Africa and there would a continental High Speed Rail Freeway connecting all the major cities/capitals of the continent.

Goals of Aspiration # 3: By 2063, Africa would have undergone a deepening of the culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, and respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law. Democratic Values, Practices Universal Principles of Human Rights, Justice and the Rule of Law will be entrenched. Capable institutions and transformative leadership will be in place at all levels.

Goals of Aspiration # 4: By 2063, Africa will emerge as a Peaceful and Secure Continent, with harmony among communities at the lowest level, Inter–state and intra-state level. Africa will have the necessary capacity to secure its interests by ensuring a peaceful but a militarily strong continent. Africa will possess strong security with a common defense and security policy and strategy, so that the continent is capable of defending itself.

Goals of Aspiration # 5: African cultural identity, values and ethics as a critical factor for Africa‘s re-emergence on the global stage will be strengthened by 2063. African people are imbued with a sense of their fundamental cultural unity, which has fostered a sense of a common destiny and African identity and Pan-African consciousness. The Africa of 2063 would be one, where culture will flourish. National languages would be the basis for administration, and there would be a strong work ethic based on merit. Traditional African values of family, community and social cohesion would be firmly entrenched.

Goals of Aspiration # 6: By 2063, Africa will be a continent that has equal participation, opportunity and access for all segments of the continent‘s population to development outcomes and social and political discourse regardless of gender, political affiliation, religion, ethnic affiliation, locality, age or other factors. All forms of illegal migrations of youth would have ended, with travels to the outside world undertaken mainly for cultural and recreational purposes and not as a search for opportunities.

Goals of Aspiration # 7: Africa as major partner in global Affairs and peaceful co-existence the continent would have assumed its rightful place in assuring global peace and security through its Permanent Seats on the UN Security Council and with a deepened south-south cooperation based on a common African Foreign Policy. Established in 2020, the Pan African Leadership Institute (PALI) would by 2025 be graduating thousands of Africa‘s future leaders. These young men and women would be adequately molded and inculcated with an esprit de corps and the ideals of Pan-Africanism, and they in turn would run the capable developmental state in the Pan African spirit.

Is It Realistic?

The document is not all dreamy and has made a good job of addressing the existing and new threats the continent faces in its 50 years journey to realize this vision. The draft detailed a laundry list of threats such as conflict, instability, corruption, social and economic inequalities, organized crime and illicit financial flows, mismanagement of diversities, the ascendancy of religious fundamentalism, failure to harness the demographic dividend, escalation of Africa’s disease burden, climate risks and natural disasters and external shocks. The document gives brief recommendations to counter these threats however, it is crucial they get a deeper examination before passing into the final version. It is true a positive vision helps in launching an inspiring and motivating movement. A realistic vision that takes accounts all the risks and solutions will not hinder that but make the movement even stronger.

The biggest weakness of the document lies in what ought to be one of the pillars of the entire vision, the financing. The document is pretty thin on the question of how to finance a project of this magnitude with a long list of plans and numerous continental challenges. Africa infrastructural development fund, agenda 2063 implementation tax, home linked solidarity fund (Diaspora), adaptation of public–private financing models and funds from African capital markets / financial institutions are some of the financing mechanisms mentioned. It also rightly asserts Africa must diversify her sources of funding and donor funding should be tied to Africa’s interest instead of donor interest.

The document however doesn’t go beyond brief list of possible sources of funding and shuns both the challenges expected in raising them and how much (in numbers or as a percentage) is expected from each sources. The document recognizes this in fine print and hints on another document to wait for. I suspect the authors of this document expect the excitement this vision creates will help in exerting pressure on African nations and leaders into an agreement in what would be torturous financing negotiations. This is probably the only acceptable (and rather smart) reason for the lack of depth on the funding part of the document.

Agenda 2063 is truly a blueprint for the Africa we want and this draft shall be thoroughly discussed among Africans to highlight its strength and weaknesses so that we end up with a beautiful and ambitious but realistic road map to our common destiny.
You can download the full document of the draft Agenda 2063 here.

Fetsum Berhane is an Ethiopian resident, economist researcher and a blogger on HornAffairs.

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