BIG IDEA | How the African Union can make young people give a f***

The African Union owes the citizens of African states an opportunity to gain true inspiration from their organisation. We have not been given that opportunity. The average educated African citizen sees the Union as a toothless dog barking at its problems, and if they surmount, merely burying them in Africa’s backyard, which I imagine is an abandoned desert filled with broken dreams. If this appears to be a dramatic analogy to you then allow yourself the chance to imagine what the uneducated citizen considers the African Union to be. Nothing. And no dramatised imagery can take that truth away.

Numerous articles have been written on the ineffectiveness of this organisation.  Disaster after disaster has visited the member states of the African Union, while those involved in it appeared to do nothing more than shake their heads at the graveyard of missed opportunities. And who has suffered the most? The African people.

The purpose of the AU is to promote peace and security in Africa, but recent al-Shabab attacks in Kenya are thought by some to be a result of the mistakes made in the AU’s mission in Somalia which had an initial mandate of six months – yet close to eight years later, the operation remains active.  The AU has also been accused of “regionalising local conflict”.

The purpose of the AU is to promote improvement in healthcare access for African citizens, but the Ebola crisis showed an organisation that seemed to insist on always remaining many steps behind local and international efforts to combat the epidemic.

The purpose of the AU is to promote Pan-African development. Since its founding in 2001, and despite the rise in trade-agreements between member states, intra-Africa trade has remained below 12%, an embarrassing figure when compared to Western Europe whose intra-continental trade clocks in at 80%. It is clear to even the most optimistic observer that African states just don’t take these agreements seriously.

More of these failings can be seen as you go down the list of objectives the AU set up for itself upon its birth. And every failure comes with its own excuse: low resources, pressure from the West, etc. But despite some of them being valid, the rest I chalk down to a blatant refusal to take this organisation where it should go as well as an obvious lack of faith in the vision that birthed the AU: the vision of a united and self-sufficient Africa.

Read more: Voices of Africa

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