The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is the technical arm of the African Union, adopted in 2002 by the African Union to manage Africa’s development in the 21st century. NEPAD’s primary objective is to eradicate poverty and place African countries on the journey towards sustainable growth as individual nations and as a collective. The organization also strives to halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process and integrate Africa into the global economy.
Topic: Strengthening Local Agricultural Markets to Safeguard Food Security
Agriculture is arguably the most significant economic activity in Africa, providing employment to over two-thirds of its working population. In fact, agriculture accounts for 30-60% of the Gross Domestic Product of African countries and constitutes 30% of its total export value. Nonetheless, like other sectors affected during Covid-19, agriculture in Africa has taken a major blow. In particular, as import chains have been disrupted, the smallholder farmers who form the backbone of the significant informal agriculture market have lost their key input flows of seeds, fertilizers, and animal feeds. With many production channels focused on the export market, numerous commercial farmers have lost a significant amount of revenue streams as borders closed and export values decreased.
Through this experience, the importance of reducing reliance on cross-border imports and of regaining control specifically of food production is clear. Furthermore, as a vulnerable group that is also vital to food security across Africa, smallholder farmers need to be equipped with means of protection such as community-based adaptation projects. Malawi has highlighted how it can build resilience in this regard. As part of a partnership with the state, smallholder farmers have been aided with thirty demonstration plots where they will grow varieties of maize and other staple foods that are resistant to drought and pests. The aim of this is to strengthen the informal markets of smallholder farmers by hybridizing their produce. E-commerce is another field that local markets can adopt to sustain a flow of produce even when populations are in lockdown.
At ALAMAU 2021, NEPAD will attempt to unpack key questions related to food security, including whether it is possible to simultaneously establish informal local markets and structured international export markets. Moreover, it will ask whether local markets can be redefined to foster sustainability to the most vulnerable of farmers.
The African Energy Commission (AFREC) is a specialized agency of the African Union located under the Commission for Infrastructure and Energy. It is responsible for coordinating, protecting and developing sensible exploitation, commercialization and integration of energy resources in Africa.
Topic: Advancing Green Efforts for the Preservation and Recovery of Energy Sources
COVID-19 has caused unprecedented global disruptions, with billions of people who are able to remain confined in their homes dependent on the electricity it provides. Moreover, the effects of this pandemic place immense pressure on existing energy systems, and economic conditions make it challenging for certain customers and businesses to pay their electricity bills, causing potential disconnection. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, only 43% of the population is electrified at all; 28% of healthcare facilities benefit from consistent electricity; and two-thirds of schools in Africa remain without reliable electricity. African utilities that are already under financial strain may accordingly struggle to provide basic services.
Energy services are undoubtedly crucial for a functional society; powering healthcare, communication, education and financial facilities, among others. To foster continental resilience post-COVID-19, we must therefore advance green efforts to preserve our energy resources and provide energy access to those who are most in need. This refers to the pursuit of environmentally friendly and responsible decisions that can protect the environment and sustain its natural resources. Together with ‘Sustainable Energy for All’, the World Bank is already working with governments, the private sector, and other partners to support this goal and to offer technical advice and funding for projects in Africa to create the conditions for an effective recovery following Covid-19.
At ALAMAU 2021, AFREC will seek to develop a framework that ensures green efforts are advanced, utilities are supported for the rejuvenation and preservation of our energy resources, and energy is made accessible for all. This is key to ensuring rapid economic recovery, helping to put Africa on a sustainable trajectory following the crisis.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was founded in 1958 by the United Nations Economic and Social Council as its African branch. The ECA seeks to promote the socio-economic development of its member states and foster intra-regional integration. One key area of its work is the assistance of African countries and Regional Economic Communities to construct, adopt and activate new technology and innovation policies.
Topic: Enhancing Digital Financial Services to Foster Financial Inclusion
During the Covid-19 pandemic, extensive periods of lockdown caused shop closures and suspension of businesses that involved physical contact. As such, individuals without access to bank accounts and credit were unable to buy essential goods online. This is an especially serious outcome for Africa, given that according to McKinsey Global Institute, two billion people in the developing world lack access to a bank. In fact, on this continent approximately 57% of the adult population have no access to a formal account. At the same time however, Africa is the global leader in mobile money, as 20% of the continent’s adult population have access to a mobile money account compared to the world average of 4.4%. Moreover, in June 2019 the African Development Bank launched the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility; a financing vehicle aimed at accelerating digital financial inclusion to ensure 332 million more Africans have access to the formal economy. This initiative strives to support digital finance services such as mobile money that will enhance financial inclusion in rural areas.
As e-commerce has boomed across the globe during this pandemic, it is important that Africa continues on its path to stimulate financial inclusion. As digital accounts can be 90% cheaper than conventional ones, this would ensure the availability and equality of opportunities for people to access financial services even in areas where there is no banking infrastructure. At ALAMAU 2021, the ECA will consider how to improve digital financial services that encompass financial services accessed and provided through digital mediums, including mobile money and digital accounts. This is a critical step towards full financial inclusion and it will make African economies more robust during and following crises such as Covid-19.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) is a platform for African states to debate and decide on solutions in response to critical challenges facing the continent. The Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs within the PAP specifically facilitates matters related to health and social affairs.
Topic: Bolstering Public Health Systems in Conflict Zones to Prevent Humanitarian Disasters
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, Africa experienced 21 600 ‘incidents’ in 2019, representing an increase of 36% from 2018. The incidents in questions were political fragmentations, armed conflicts, displacement, and terrorism among others. Included within the serious effects of these events is the collapse of the health systems in their respective locations, with health workers attacked, infrastructure demolished, and foreign medics rendered unavailable. An example of a country that has had its health infrastructure destroyed is the Central African Republic, due to its civil war that has been ongoing since 2012. Despite the external support that facilitated the rehabilitation of approximately one-third of the infrastructure in affected zones such as Ouham, Pende, la Nana Gribizi and Ombella-Mpoko, its health care system is still ill-equipped to serve its population. In Libya, the political instability has meant that only four hospitals are currently functional, and at 75-80 % of their capacities. In South Sudan, 120 medical doctors and 100 nurses are registered for an estimated population of nearly nine million people.
It is clear that the instability caused by conflicts in this continent has weakened health systems, leading in turn to serious humanitarian crises. The outbreak of COVID-19 is accordingly expected to further exacerbate these realities. The drastic lack of supply, workforce and funds to implement and upkeep healthcare systems makes the impact of the pandemic even more dire. The instability and fragility of these contexts and the lack of resources available to repress the virus make this issue especially pertinent. At ALAMAU 2021, the Pan-African Parliament will therefore discuss how to improve medical infrastructure and strengthen health agencies to safeguard public health in conflict zones to prevent humanitarian disasters.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a committee of the African Union focused on the socio-economic development of African nations. It undertakes to help reduce poverty, improve living conditions, and mobilize resources for the continent’s economic and social progression.
Topic: Improving Africa’s Debt Sustainability to Support Economic Recovery
By 2018, nineteen African countries had exceeded the 60% debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) threshold set by the African Monetary Co-operation Programme for developing economies, while twenty-four had surpassed the 55% debt-to-GDP ratio recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The debt-to-GDP ratio of a country refers to the ability of a country to pay back its debt. It is therefore clear that many global financial institutions were showing concern at the level of debt growth in Africa even prior to COVID-19.
When the pandemic hit the continent, the economic situation turned dire. Budget deficits, the contraction of global consumer demand, and increased spending on healthcare became unmanageable for most countries needing to repay debt to creditors. Efforts such as the G20’s temporary suspension of debt payments for 2020, as well as emergency COVID-19 support funds from the IMF are at best a temporary fix. Long-term solutions that enable the continent to reorient and establish continental policies around public debt will be vital for African countries striving to economically recover in a post COVID-19 world. Ultimately, Africa must find solutions that enable it to strike a balance between development and debt, so as to maintain access to debt markets that offer them financial assistance while ensuring debt repayments do not hinder government investment in development.
At ALAMAU 2021, the AfDB will focus on an action plan to assist African countries to develop local financing options to help reduce dependence on volatile and expensive external debt.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is tasked to protect and promote human rights across Africa as well as interpret the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and reflect on individual complaints of Charter violations. The ACHPR is a quasi-judicial body as it drafts proposals sent to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which thereafter acts accordingly.
Topic: Curtailing State-Policing Power During Crises to Safeguard Human Rights
A crisis may include but is not limited to natural disasters, a health epidemic or pandemic, terrorist attacks or civil war. Depending on the country, these may necessitate an invocation of a state of emergency that allows governments to suspend certain laws. In response to Covid-19, over eighteen African countries including Liberia, Botswana and Ethiopia declared a state of emergency. Doing so allowed the authorities to take actions deemed necessary to safeguard national security, maintain law and order, protect the lives of citizens and property, keep essential public services working, and direct relief resources to greatest areas of need. Nevertheless, this more often than not came at the expense of civil and political rights that protect individuals against abuse of state power. Furthermore, it may have served as an opportunity for governments to intimidate activists bringing attention to corruption, environmental exploitation and human rights abuses. It may have additionally allowed states to smuggle in legislation that diverts justice and the exercise of democratic processes such as elections.
Examples abound, including of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces that came under fire for impunity and brutality against Ugandans, especially when they beat a pregnant woman for not respecting curfew regulations. In South Africa, Human Rights Watch also observed scores of police brutality. Throughout the continent, the United Nations and local human rights watchdogs have warned against overly draconian measures that contravene the African Charter that in fact provides criteria to guide states in their emergency actions.
Delegates in the ACHPR at ALAMAU 2021 will be tasked with asking how states may strike a balance between allowing individuals to exercise their rights and ensuring state responsibility during crises. Who watches the watchmen in such times to determine when and whether states act in excess of their mandate? Lastly, how can we curtail policing power to protect people and ensure the survival of democracy post-crisis?
The African Scientific Research and Innovation Council (ASRIC) was launched by the African Union Commission in 2018 as a continental platform to activate African research and innovation. It acts as a forum for dialogue within the scientific community to develop and document the research-policy nexus to address Africa’s socio-economic challenges.
Topic: Promoting Scientific Research to Foster Medical Readiness and Stability
Globally, individuals suffer primarily from communicable diseases, however in sub-Saharan Africa communities still struggle from basic non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and pulmonary diseases. Such a challenge can be tackled by carrying out scientific research that is used to drive policy-making, lead to rethinking established practices and beliefs, and enhance the understanding and treatment of both communicable and non-communicable diseases. The AU has realized the necessity of scientific research and has accordingly played a role in accelerating this process. In 2006, African heads of states committed to raising their national gross expenditure on research and development to at least 1% of their Gross Domestic Product by 2025. The reality, however, is that while a few countries including Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa, and Ethiopia are making efforts to meet this target, the pledge on a continental scale has remained elusive.
It is crucial that there is a change in this regard, especially in the context of Covid-19. Scientific research can improve medical readiness for pandemics by stimulating new innovations and providing crucial information about disease patterns and risk factors, public health interventions, and medical care costs. In fact, according to Our World in Data Organisation, states that spend more on scientific research are better prepared for epidemics and pandemics. Moreover, their research can then be shared with other countries.
At ALAMAU 2021, ASRIC aims to tackle the infrastructural, institutional, financial, and educational challenges that face scientific research in Africa in order to contribute towards a more resilient continent.
The Executive Council of the African Union (AU) is one of its central organs composed of authorities accredited by the governments of member states. It is tasked with coordinating and harmonizing policies, activities and initiatives of the AU on matters of common interest to member states. Importantly, the Executive Council determines issues to be submitted to the Assembly for discussion and decision.
Topic: Supporting SMEs to Leverage Economic Opportunities for Women and Youth
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a significant role in the socioeconomic development of countries on the African continent. Given that SMEs are responsible for 52% of jobs held by women and youth in emerging countries, providing them with necessary support will lead to a significant improvement in socioeconomic conditions. Hence, they not only contribute towards the Gross Domestic Product of countries but they also promote the emancipation of women and youth by generating job opportunities and stable incomes. As these social groups are amongst the most vulnerable, their financial independence is crucial in combating poverty rates and other social issues associated with economic deprivation.
Although the role of SMEs in the socioeconomic growth of countries is notable, these enterprises are highly sensitive to the occurrence of economic disturbances. In the context of the global economic recession caused by Covid-19, SMEs in Africa have been especially hard-hit. Thus, it is crucial that states implement mechanisms to support these enterprises to make it through arduous financial difficulties. In South Africa for example, the Department of Small Business Development launched the Covid-19 SMME relief funding to alleviate the financial difficulties faced by beneficiary enterprises. Unfortunately, such mechanisms remain short-term measures that foster the dependence of SMEs on aid.
At ALAMAU 2021, delegates will discuss how governments may create frameworks that support SMEs to build resilience and strengthen their economic stance for long-term benefit.
The Specialized Technical Committee on Education is created exclusively for the African Leadership Academy Model African Union and is not an existing committee in the African Union (AU). This committee is simulating a specialized institution of the AU tasked with improving access to quality higher education on the African continent.
Topic: Bridging the Digital Divide Through Innovation in Higher Education
During the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a strong global reliance on digital innovations in the educational field such as language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, and online learning software. In Africa however, this crisis has brought to light the impact of the digital divide in education, including in higher education, as the cessation of physical teaching has had immediate effects on students without internet access. African countries accordingly need to urgently take all students and the existing inequalities into account in order to implement policies that develop technological infrastructure in higher education.
Fostering digital innovation will contribute to Africa’s educational development both in the short and long-term, as these innovations will support more job opportunities and lead to the strengthening of the economy. At ALAMAU 2021, the Specialized Technical Committee on Education will therefore focus on innovative measures that could be implemented in higher education in times of crises and also last as foundations for the future.
The Peace and Security Council (PSC) is an organ of the African Union (AU) with the crucial mandate to ensure the promotion of peace, stability and security across the continent.
Topic: Building Effective Communication and Defense Systems to Eradicate Extremism
In 2002, the AU ratified its Plan of Action ‘for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism’ to bolster the continent’s war against extremism. This framework birthed the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism, which analyses extremist groups and aims to harmonise efforts towards capacitating states to prevent and combat terrorism. Despite these developments, in the last decade extremism has risen in the continent, including through the emergence of insurgents in northern Mozambique responsible for thousands of deaths and over 100 000 refugees. Although the AU had formulated concrete guidelines to eradicate extremism, a direct military intervention has been the primary strategy taken by African nations. This approach has come under scrutiny for not only its inability to effectively safeguard the wellbeing of the communities, but for indirectly contributing to the loss of lives and displacement of populations. In particular, there has been a lack of robust communication strategies within the affected regions, as well as between the rest of the continent and the targeted populations.
These issues have only been exacerbated by the outbreak of COVID-19, as states are working to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic and have therefore shifted their military resources accordingly. For example, in Nigeria the military is being tasked with the implementation of safety measures, such as restraining the movement of people and transferring the sick to the hospital. In Kenya, the military is ensuring the country’s lockdown measures while providing medical support and transporting vital supplies. Though these are important measures, this focus has allowed extremist groups to increase their attacks by 37% since March 2020, to recruit more members and to expand their influence. In fact, on 23 March 2020 Chad suffered its deadliest toll against extremism in an attack on Boma Peninsula. On the same day, a Nigerian military unit was decimated in the Kondunga area, Borno State by the Islamic State West Africa Province, resulting in 100 casualties. And when Mozambique had confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 in April, Ansar al-Sunna killed 52 people in the village of Xitaxi, Cabo Delgado.
These matters pose a high threat to African countries that already have ill-equipped defense systems and poor communication strategies to deal with extremism. At ALAMAU 2021, the PSC will consider the specific role of communication and defense systems in eradicating extremism and strengthening the resilience of African security forces post-COVID-19.