Advancing Integration for Mutual Prosperity
For decades, African countries have sought and, to a certain degree, attained socio-economic and political development. Many have been able to leverage progress by harnessing the potential of their most promising sectors. Nevertheless, there has been a disproportionate distribution of benefits across the continent in three key sectors: economic, social and political. In connection to the economic sector in the continent, there has been slow progress in fully incorporating advanced manufacturing systems into economies, which has contributed in large part to weak growth and a high dependence on agricultural or mining activities. This challenge is exemplified by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with the majority of its population dependent on agriculture as a source of income and food. In addition, its main economic resources are its rich mineral deposits that produce almost 90% of the country’s total exports. Nonetheless, manufacturing still accounts for a small proportion of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) despite the consideration of the DRC as one of the richest countries in the world regarding natural resources, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA.
In the socio-political sector, there are numerous examples of conflicts from which the continent has recovered, as evident in the Hutu-Tutsi conflict of Rwanda. Economic growth, improvements in governance, and greater space for peaceful political participation have all made conflict less likely in several countries, such as Rwanda. Nevertheless, there are still some obstacles in relation to ethnic and religious tensions in the continent. The implementation of lasting post-conflict resolution strategies remains a pain point in certain countries, including in the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. Moreover, elections in some African nations appear to be defined by ethnic affiliations, as seen in Kenya. Another clear manifestation of these tensions are the ongoing conflicts motivated by tribal differences, as illustrated by the Nuer-Dinka conflict in South Sudan. Resolution efforts in this conflict have largely been successful, with the reduction in violence but peace remains fragile.
To achieve the continent’s growth objectives, member states of the African Union need to work together to attain economic, social and political stability. Leading lights in manufacturing, including South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria have the potential to collaborate with other states to advance economic growth. The ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement has set in motion the operation of the world’s largest free trade area, which has the potential to serve approximately 1.2 billion people on the continent; this agreement carries the promise of a rejuvenated Africa on a path to high economic growth. However, it calls for African states to do more, to do better, and to work together across the economic, social and political sectors.
The African Union Agenda 2063 seeks to transform Africa into a global powerhouse of the future. It aims to deliver inclusive and sustainable development and prioritize social and economic development, further peace and security efforts as well as foster continental and regional integration. At ALAMAU 2020, we recognize that our continent has set itself on an ambitious growth trajectory and has made a significant effort to achieve sustainable economic, social and political growth. We believe it is vital to press forward with the existing integration efforts to boost our economies, grow our social welfare systems and become more politically united.