Building capacity to help Africa trade better

African Union Handbook 2017


African Union Handbook 2017

African Union Handbook 2017
Photo credit: Getty Images | BeholdingEye.

A guide for those working with and within the African Union


It is a great pleasure to be writing a foreword for the fourth annual edition of the African Union Handbook. This edition coincides with the end of term for this current commission and, thus, offers us an opportunity to reflect on the strides we have recorded since we took up office in 2012, the Year of Boosting Inter-African Trade, which preceded the Year for Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance.

Since then, as this handbook bears testament to, we have placed our food security agenda firmly in the programmes of our Union and partners. This has, amongst other things, facilitated discussions and actions in relation to our green and blue economies.

Our OAU-AU 50th anniversary commemorations offered us an opportunity to reflect on the gains we have made in relation to Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance. Our Heads of State and Government took the opportunity to lay the foundation for our continent-wide 50-year programme, which allowed Africans to dream of the Africa they foresee over the next 50 years, Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, which lays a solid foundation for a united, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

Last year, 2016, saw critical milestones across Africa for gender equality and the empowerment of women. It included the 30th anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the second phase of the African Women’s Decade 2010-20; the 36th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and the 21st anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

For the African Union, 2016 was a special year dedicated to human rights with particular focus on the rights of women. It was also the second consecutive year that gender equality and women’s empowerment was adopted as the highest priority on the continental agenda. One of our many achievements was the Executive Council’s formal decision in January 2016 to ensure that the voices of both women and men are equally represented in all AU organs.

Our theme for 2017 is Harnessing Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth. This is another particularly significant theme. The future of our continent, our unity, our hopes and aspirations for the peaceful and prosperous Africa we want, rests in the hands of our young people.

The strides we have made towards our vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena” could not have been possible without partners such as the Government of New Zealand, which continues to support the production of this important record of our work. The documentation of our work is important because it is an instrument by which the people whom we serve can hold us accountable whilst also providing guidance to our work.

H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Chairperson of the African Union Commission


The African Union (AU) was officially launched in July 2002 in Durban, South Africa, following a decision in September 1999 by its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), to create a new continental organisation to build on its work.

The AU vision is: An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Agenda 2063, officially adopted by the AU Assembly in 2015, provides a new collective vision and roadmap to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.

Agenda 2063

Agenda 2063 is Africa’s endogenous plan for structural transformation and a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development. It is anchored on the AU Constitutive Act, AU vision, AU Assembly 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration of 2013 and seven African aspirations for 2063, and sets out a national, regional and continental blueprint for progress. Agenda 2063 was adopted by the AU Assembly on 31 January 2015 at its 24th Ordinary Session. In January 2016, the Assembly reiterated that Agenda 2063 is a common continental framework for socio-economic development.

The seven aspirations for 2063 are:

  • A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development

  • An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s renaissance

  • An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law

  • A peaceful and secure Africa

  • An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics

  • An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children

  • Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner.

Under the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) 2013-23, Agenda 2063 has 13 fast track or ‘flagship’ projects:

  • Integrated high-speed train network: aims to connect all African capitals and commercial centres

  • Pan-African virtual university: designed to accelerate development of human capital, science and technology and innovation

  • African commodities strategy: aims to enable African countries to develop a vibrant, socially and environmentally sustainable commodities sector

  • Annual African forum: designed to bring together Africa’s political leadership, private sector, academia and civil society to discuss Agenda 2063

  • Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017: aims include to double intra-Africa trade by 2022, strengthen Africa’s common voice in global trade negotiations and operationalise the African Investment Bank (2025) and Pan African Stock Exchange; the African Monetary Fund (2023); and the African Central Bank (2028-34)

  • African Passport and free movement of people: aims to fast track continental integration by enhancing free movement of all African citizens from all African countries by 2018

  • Silencing the guns by 2020: aims to end all wars, conflicts and violations of human rights

  • Grand Inga Dam Project: aims to boost Africa’s energy production

  • Pan-African E-Network: designed to transform e-applications and services in Africa

  • African outer space programme: aims to bolster African development in various fields, including agriculture, disaster management, remote sensing, climate forecast, banking and finance, defence and security

  • Single African air transport market: aims to deliver a single African air transport market to facilitate air transportation in Africa

  • African continental financial institutions: aims to accelerate integration and socio-economic development of the continent. The institutions include the African Central Bank, African Monetary Fund and African Investment Bank

  • Great Museum of Africa: the Museum, to be established in Algiers, Algeria, was added to the flagship projects in July 2016.

As of September 2016, progress on the flagship projects included:

  • A common passport for Africa was launched symbolically at the AU Assembly Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2016. AU Heads of State and Government encouraged Member States to adopt the African Passport, and asked the AUC to provide technical support and to put in place a roadmap for the development of a protocol on free movement of people in Africa by January 2018 (Assembly/AU/Dec.607(XXVII) of July 2016).

  • The Inaugural African Economic Platform is scheduled to be held in Mauritius from 19 to 22 March 2017.

  • The AU Assembly adopted the African Space Policy and Strategy in January 2016 as the first major step towards an African outer space programme (Assembly/AU/ Dec.589(XXVI)).

  • The AU Assembly reaffirmed in July 2016 its decision to fast track establishment of the CFTA, and decided to establish a high-level panel to champion fast tracking of the CFTA.

This Handbook is published by the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the New Zealand Government. Modelled on the United Nations Handbook, it is intended as a ready reference guide for people working in all parts of the AU system (Member States, government officials, Commission and other staff) as well as the AU’s many partners and wider civil society.


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