African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents

African Union Legal Resources and Policy Documents

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In their quest for unity, economic and social development, the 32 independent African states established the Organisation of African (OAU) on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a vehicle to promote unity and solidarity, the OAU adopted various initiatives in many different areas which paved the way for the eventual establishment of the African Union (AU) as it exists today. For more information, please visit the AU website.

The Lagos Plan of Action and Final Act of Lagos were adopted by Heads of State and Government in April 1980 in Lagos, meeting at the Second Extraordinary Session dedicated devoted to the economic problems in Africa. This was subsequently followed by the adoption of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (also known as the Abuja Treaty) in 1991, which seeks to create an AEC through six stages culminating in an African Common Market, using the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as building blocks. The Treaty has been in operation since 1994.

  • Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa (1980-2000) (PDF, 277 KB)
  • Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (the Abuja Treaty) - June 1991 (PDF, 145 KB)
  • Protocol on Relations Between the AEC and the Regional Economic Communities - 25 February 1998 (PDF, 143 KB)
  • Protocol to the Treaty Establishing the AEC Relating to the Pan-African Parliament - 2 March 2001 (PDF, 24 KB)

Transition to the African Union

Throughout the 1990s, African leaders debated the need to amend the OAU’s structures to reflect the challenges of a changing world. On 9 September 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the OAU issued the Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of a new African Union. The vision for the AU was to accelerate the process of integration in Africa and support the empowerment of African states in the global economy while addressing the multifaceted social, economic and political problems facing the continent amidst increasing globalisation.

Following the Sirte Summit in 1999, three summits were held to facilitate the launch and implementation of the African Union. The Lome Summit (2000) adopted the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which specifies the objectives, principles, and organs of the AU. The Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road map for the implementation of the AU. Finally, the Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the First Assembly of Heads of States and Government.

  • Constitutive Act of the African Union - Lomé, 2000 (PDF, 132 KB)
    • Arabic (PDF, 1.73 MB)
    • French (PDF, 145 KB)

  • Solemn Declaration of the 50th AU Anniversary - May 2013 (PDF, 1.21 MB)

Member States

The OAU was established with the 32 African states that had achieved independence at that time. Gradually, a further 21 members joined, reaching a total of 53 by the time of the AU’s creation in 2002. South Sudan became the 54th AU member in July 2011. Morocco, which had withdrawn from the OAU in 1984 following the organisation’s acceptance of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a member state, was reinstated during the 28th AU Summit in January 2017 as the newest member. There are currently 55 member states in the African Union. The full list of countries is available below.

African Statistical Yearbook 2017

The Yearbook series is a result of joint efforts by the AfDB, AUC and UNECA to set up a joint data collection mechanism of socioeconomic data on African countries as well as the development of a common harmonized database. This 2017 edition presents a time series showing how African countries performed on several economic and social indicators over the period 2008-2016.

  • African Statistical Yearbook 2017 (PDF, 3.50 MB)

Agenda 2063

Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of, past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development, including the Lagos Plan of Action, The Abuja Treaty, the Minimum Integration Programme, the Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), the New partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Plans and Programmes and National Plans.

  • Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), January 2012 (708 KB)
  • PIDA Executive summary (1.08 MB)

The First Ten-Year Implementation Plan for Agenda 2063 builds upon the Agenda 2063 Framework Document adopted in January 2015, and seeks to accelerate Africa’s political, social, economic and technological transformation while continuing the Pan African drive for self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity. Covering the period 2014-2023, it is the first of a series of five 10-year implementation plans to be developed to realize the vision of the “Africa We Want By 2063”.

  • Agenda 2063: Popular version - Final edition, April 2015 (333 KB)
    • Framework Document, September 2015 (2.66 MB)
    • Popular version - Second edition, August 2014 (478 KB)
  • Agenda 2063 First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) 2014-2023 (2.04 MB)
  • Agenda 2063 FTYIP: Core indicators Profile Handbook for Member States, March 2017 (1.64 MB)
  • Expert Meeting on Agenda 2063 Financing, Domestic Resource Mobilsation and Partnership Strategy: Report, December 2016 (1.00 MB)

Trade and integration-related legal and policy documents

The Department of Trade and Industry’s core mandate is to support the AU in boosting intra-African trade, fast track establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), and to ensure Africa’s competitiveness in the global economy. It supports Africa’s transformation by promoting diversification and modernisation of production structures.

  • Decision on the Framework for a Renewed UN-AU Partnership on Africa’s Integration and Development Agendas 2017-2027 (PDF, 64.67 KB)
  • Abidjan Declaration Critical role of industrialization in economic transformation of African economies - March 2017 (PDF, 443 KB)
  • Declaration on the African Union Border Programme and measures for its consolidation - October 2016 (PDF, 84 KB)
  • Decision on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport - July 2016 (PDF, 293 KB)
  • Trade in services: Case studies from Africa - December 2015 (PDF, 10.12 MB)
  • Proposal for a Common and Enhanced Trade Preference System for LDCs and Low Income Countries (PDF, 127 KB)
  • African Integration Fund: Draft feasibility study - October 2013 (PDF, 2.82 MB)
  • Niamey Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (PDF, 3.26 MB)

Key initiatives

BIAT Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT)

Trade is widely accepted as an important engine of economic growth and development. There are many regions and countries of the world that have been able to lift their people from poverty to prosperity through trade. In Africa however, trade has not served as a potent instrument for the achievement of rapid and sustainable economic growth and development due mainly to three interrelated basic features: size, structure, and direction.

Boosting intra-African trade and deepening regional market integration constitute a necessary response to the challenges facing Africa in the multilateral trading system and the global economy. In addition, fostering competition among African countries will assist in enhancing their capacity and prepare them to compete more effectively on the global market.

The Action Plan for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade specifically aims at deepening Africa’s market integration and significantly increasing the volume of trade that African countries undertake among themselves. To effectively achieve this, the plan is divided into seven clusters: Trade Facilitation, Trade Policy, Productive capacities, Trade related Infrastructure, Trade Finance, Trade Information and Factor Market integration. Implementing the actions in each cluster is expected to significantly contribute to Boosting Intra-African Trade.

  • Decision on Boosting Intra-African Trade and Fast Tracking the Continental Free Trade Area - January 2012 (PDF, 34 KB)
  • Declaration on Boosting Intra-African Trade and The Establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) (PDF, 92 KB)
  • Boosting Intra-African Trade: Issues Affecting Intra-African Trade, Proposed Action Plan for boosting intra-African Trade and Framework for the fast-tracking of a Continental Free Trade Area (PDF, 928 KB)
  • Synthesis Paper on Boosting Intra-African Trade and Fast Tracking the Continental Free Trade Area (PDF, 72 KB)

Accelerated Industrial Development for Africa (AIDA)

The leaders of Africa have in recent years shown commitment to the industrialization of the continent in both the short and long-term, and have taken a number of major initiatives to meet the challenges of development. During the January 2008 AU Summit on “the industrialization of Africa”, the Heads of State and Government endorsed and adopted the Plan of Action for the accelerated industrial development for Africa and directed the Commission of the African Union to speedily operationalize it in collaboration with UNIDO, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other development partners.

  • Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa - September 2007 (PDF, 85 KB)

Africa Mining Vision (AMV)

The Africa Mining Vision (AMV), adopted by Heads of State at the February 2009 AU Summit following the October 2008 meeting of African Ministers responsible for Mineral Resources Development, defines an aspiration for mining to catalyse broad, transparent, equitable and sustainable growth and socio-economic development. It is Africa’s own response to tackling the paradox of great mineral wealth existing side by side with pervasive poverty through the integration of mining into development policies at local, national and regional levels.

Mining could potentially play a transformational role beyond the confines of the sector in many mineral rich African countries. However, unlocking this potential has been a challenge to governments. If the AMV is to effectively support the contribution of mining to growth and development, it needs to be implemented at the country level. And at regional level, it means integrating mining into industrial and trade policy.

  • Africa Mining Vision - February 2009 (PDF, 1.82 MB)
  • Addis Ababa Declaration on Building a Sustainable Future for Africa’s Extractive Industry – From Vision to Action - December 2011 (PDF, 107 KB)
  • The Country Mining Vision (CMV) - October 2013 (PDF, 875 KB)

Institutional reform

At the 27th AU Summit in Kigali in July 2016, recognising the need to accelerate the ongoing reform of the African Union, Rwandan President Paul Kagame was tasked with preparing a report on the proposed way forward. President Kagame appointed a pan-African advisory team to assist with the review, with whom he held a series of consultative meetings to identify the African Union’s strengths and shortcomings, and consider proposals for reform. He presented their report, titled “The Imperative to Strengthen Our Union,” on the sidelines of the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa on 29 January 2017. The report highlights four action areas: i) Focus on key priorities with continental scope, ii) Realign African Union institutions to deliver against those priorities, iii) Manage the African Union efficiently at both political and operational levels, and iv) Finance the African Union ourselves and sustainably.

  • The Imperative to Strengthen Our Union: Report on the Proposed Recommendations for the Institutional Reform of the African Union (PDF, 167 KB)

Financing the Union

The Decision on Financing of the Union was adopted by Heads of State and Government in a “Retreat on Financing of the Union” during the 27th AU Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in July 2016. The Decision directs all African Union Member States to implement a 0.2% levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union. The purpose of the decision is to:

  1. provide reliable and predictable funding for continental peace and security though the Peace Fund;

  2. provide an equitable and predictable source of financing for the Union;

  3. reduce dependency on partner funds for implementation of continental development and integration programs; and 

  4. relieve the pressure on national treasuries with respect to meeting national obligations for payment of assessed contributions of the Union

The decision will enter into operations for each Member States from January 2017. The above notwithstanding it is important to note that some countries have already initiated action to implement. These include Kenya, Rwanda, Chad and Ethiopia and Republic of Congo.

  • Background Paper on Implementing the Kigali Decision on Financing the Union - September 2016 (PDF, 713 KB)
  • Draft Guidelines for the Implementation of the Assembly Directive on the Financing of the Union - August 2016 (PDF, 295 KB)
  • Terms of reference for the Committee of Ten Ministers of Finance to participate in the preparation of the annual budget - August 2016 (PDF, 263 KB)
  • Meeting of Finance Ministers on Implementation of the Kigali Assembly Decision on Financing the AU: Summary Report - September 2016 (PDF, 585 KB)
  • Report of the 2nd Meeting of Ministers of Finance Committee of Ten on Implementation of the Kigali Assembly Decision on Financing the AU - October 2016 (PDF, 214 KB)
  • Communiqué of the Meeting of AU Finance Ministers - Addis Ababa, August 2017
  • Communiqué of the Meeting of AU Finance Ministers (French) - Addis Ababa, August 2017

Rationale and application

The continued and successful implementation of the Union’s programmes require adequate and predictable, sustainable funding. However under existing arrangements, the Union’s budget continues to be underfunded by both the Member States and Development Partners. On average, 67 percent of assessed contribution is collected annually from Member States. About 30 Member States default either partially or completely on average, annually. This creates a significant funding Gap between planned budget and actual funding, which hinders effective delivery of the African Union’s agenda.

With the immediate implementation of the AU import levy, the levy is to be derived from 0.2 percent of the value of the eligible goods imported into a Member State from a non-Member State (therein stated as from outside the continent).

The levy is applicable and is to be instituted in 2017 to finance 100% Operational Budget, 75% Program Budget and 25% Budget of the Peace Support Operations of the African Union as well as any other expenditure of the Union that may be determined by the Assembly.

The taxable base of the AU import levy will be the value of eligible goods originating from a non-Member State imported into the territory of a Member State to be consumed in the Member State. The Revenue collected under the import levy is then remitted in accordance with each Member State’s approved assessed contribution including the Peace Fund.

Any surplus collected by Member States after the fulfillment of obligations under the assessed contribution are to be retained by the State while any deficits between the assessed contribution and revenues collected under AU import levy by a Member State shall be covered by the Member State. The Revenue collected under the import levy is then remitted in accordance with each Member State’s approved assessed contribution including the Peace Fund.

Eligible goods

The AU import levy will apply to the Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) value at the port of disembarkation for imports arriving by sea and road and the Customs value at the airport of disembarkation for goods arriving by air. The criteria for exemption are contained in the draft guidelines on AU import levy adopted by the committee of 10 finance ministers and sent to all member states. In essence, the eligible goods at this point shall be determined by member states in line with national priorities.

And while the taxable base targets the value of eligible goods originating from a non-Member State imported into the territory of a Member State, a few exemptions are made to the following:

  1. Goods originating from outside the territory of a Member State for home consumption in a Member State and re-exported to another Member State;

  2. Goods received as Aid, gifts and non-repayable grants by a State or by legal entities constituted under public law and destined for charitable works recognized as being for the common good;

  3. Goods originating from non-Member States, imported as part of financing agreements with foreign partners, subject to a clause expressly exempting the said goods from any fiscal or para-fiscal levy;

  4. Goods imported by enterprises before the entry into operations of this Guidelines;

  5. Goods on which the AU import levy has been previously paid.

List of AU member states

as at 1 January 2018 (in alphabetical order)

Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic*, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sao Tome & Principe, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

* Suspended since 25 March 2013 pending re-establishment of constitutional order in the country.

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