I felt very honored to take part in the African Union Summit celebration in Ethiopia, marking the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Union (OAU), predecessor to the AU, on Africa Day, May 25. To think that 50 years have passed since newly-independent African countries created an organization based on a mutual desire for unity, prosperity and peace is a tremendous achievement worth celebrating.
AAI and the AU share an intertwining history of mutual engagement starting from Africa’s liberation from colonialism and apartheid to efforts to advance socio-economic development and progress on the continent. Together, we have helped to move Africa towards steady progress in building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic continent.
Yet, many people still question the purpose of the AU. Some people believe it is an unnecessary institution without a real purpose; I disagree. Enormous challenges have occurred for which the AU was expected to jump in and single-handedly resolve the problem. Indeed, much more remains to be done to realize the dreams and aspirations of the AU founders. We must evaluate these challenges and hold the AU accountable where appropriate.
However, my attendance at the AU summit gave me hope and encouragement. The AAI delegation and I briefly met with African Heads of State, U.S. and international leaders, and others working towards Africa’s transformation. I believe the AU is still perfecting itself and will find its critical voice. Nation-building is very complex – and must be long term. This complexity is compounded by national challenges and opportunities that the AU needs to carefully review and evaluate before taking action.
From the AU’s Strategic Vision for Africa 2063, a blueprint outlining the AU’s vision for Africa for the next 50 years, it is clear that the future of Africa is bright and prosperous. There is a renewed sense of importance in security, education, economic development, regional integration and infrastructure.
AAI is honored to recognize the AU at our 60th Anniversary Awards Dinner Gala on Sept. 25. We’ve been partners from the inception of the OAU, AU’s predecessor, and look forward to strengthening our partnership in building Africa’s human capital and preparing nations to compete in a knowledge-based global economy.