4 Sep 2013

Africa’s “Agenda 2063” - a continental vision for prosperity and inclusiveness

by Sahra El Fassi. The call for 'Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance' has been echoing in the ivory towers of the African Union since the 1960s.  2013 – year of the OAU/AU Golden Jubilee – is an opportunity to put this ambitious African vision back on the political agenda. Skeptics might wonder how these lauds will resonate after the celebrations are over.

What they might have overlooked is however, that besides the congratulatory addresses and burning torches of hope and pride, the AU has actually been busy developing the Agenda 2063: an overarching strategic framework and vision for Africa over the next 50 years. At 50 years itself, the African Union Commission (AUC) turns not only to policy makers but also to African citizens and the Diaspora to enrich this vision.

Learning from the past towards a paradigm shift

In order to encourage critical African thinking and fuel constructive and policy-relevant discussions among different stakeholders, an Agenda 2063 Draft Framework has been released. This document outlines how to strategically harness the continent’s opportunities by learning from the past and building on ongoing progress. With the ultimate aim to bring about positive socioeconomic transformation in Africa, the framework places special emphasis on the mood of confidence in the future of the continent.

Some of the elements listed as critical for the continent’s dynamic positioning within the rest of the world are: pan-Africanism, regional integration, solidarity and self-reliance. Despite the creation of pan-African institutions such as the AUC and the RECs however, these have not been adequately resourced, one of the reasons being that African governments still tend to rely on international partners. The Draft Agenda hence highlights the need for strong and capable African entities, a functioning legal and regularity framework and an adequate emphasis on commitment and implementation of agreed plans, programmes, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The Agenda acknowledges the challenges that African countries face while it senses at the same time a continent endowed with all necessary prerequisites to unpack the Vision for 2063 and play a more significant role on the global stage.

Making the vision of Agenda 2063 a reality

Agenda 2063 builds on existing strategic frameworks that provide additional guidance to the process ahead, such as the Abuja Treaty, the plan of action for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa (AIDA) or Africa’s Agro-industry and Agribusiness Development Initiative (3ADI). It understands a prosperous Africa as a transformed continent where economic growth is translated in wealth and employment creation, guided by sustainable environmental policies.

Some of the key drives enumerated in the Draft Framework and considered critical to achieve the change envisaged are the following: promoting science, technology and innovation, investing in human development, managing the natural resource endowment, pursuing climate-conscious development, creating capable developmental states and harnessing regional integration.

Besides these positive drivers of change, Vision 2063 tries to discern and take into account several long-term trends that will influence or present challenges to global socio-economic wellbeing. It also reveals milestones and proposes ideas to tackle Africa’s remaining essential challenges related to integration, prosperity, structural transformation, human development, good governance, technology transfer and ownership of development programmes.

As to advance their long-term development objectives all African countries will have to pursue concrete actions. These comprise for example to forge a proactive engagement strategy with emerging partners, and harness their growing economic relations with them. Encourage resource rich countries to adopt more transparent and development-oriented policies for the minerals sector and strengthen domestic and regional financial markets. Concrete steps further include the complete removal of barriers to the movement of Africans within the continent by 2015, the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017, the Continental Common Market by 2023 or the Pan-African Economic and Monetary Union by 2028.

Pursuing these actions, African countries aim at ending their dependence on foreign aid by 2028. Since Official Development Assistance is no longer considered sustainable for Africa’s development, new vehicles for mobilizing resources such as including public–private partnerships, sovereign wealth funds or diaspora bonds are proposed.

Joint efforts to develop a continental long-term vision

No doubt, Africa has set itself an ambitious vision and the task ahead is complex. Making Vision 2063 a reality will be challenging. The current consultation process could assist in thinking ahead about a number of outstanding questions. For instance, how will the idea to include different stakeholders ensure their sustained commitment? How will the vision be translated into a plan and therefore become instrumental in ensuring that all parties involved play their role as a catalyst for development?

Trust in a common continental vision is certainly the first step into the right direction. Now the African Union needs to ensure that castles are not build in the air and instead lead the way to coherent and integrated actions. If the hopeful voice, and proud dynamism that have been demonstrated by African citizens throughout its consultation process and Agenda 2063 would be enriched by a more instrumental component, it could indeed become real.

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Photo by residentevil_stars2001.

Sahra El Fassi is a Research Assistant at ECDPM in the Africa's Change Dynamics Programme. She can be found on Twitter here: @SahraEF


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