The African Union

The African Union .... Prospects and Challenges 24/5/2004


PR: 12/African Sec/ 26-5-2004
Doc: 2/5/2004

AAPSO held a seminar entitled "The African Union ..Prospects and Challenges" on 24/5/2004 on the occasion of Africa Day 25/5/2004 in the premises of the Organization.

The speakers were Dr. Sayed Nofal and Dr Iraqi El Sherbeeni with the participation of university professors and experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affair, NGOs and research centers.

Dr. Morad Ghaleb, President of AAPSO stressed in his inaugural speech that the African continent constituted a strategic depth for Egypt from which stems the artery of life, the river Nile, which makes African affiliation a matter of life and death. He pointed out that although Africa suffered from marginalization at the political and economic level - as its share in the world market does not exceed 1 or 2% - Africa continues to enjoy importance and more stable conditions at the political and military levels.

Dr. Sayed Nofal indicated that Africa's situation is currently more stable than it was ten years ago but continues to experience conflicts, civil wars and border disputes. These were caused by numerous factors, mainly due to the fact that Africa is passing through an agricultural tribal phase, merging old and new values, political and financial corruption, and monopolization of authority and domination of nationality values.

He underlined that Africa required more good intentions and formation of councils as well as resolute and persistent efforts. Dr Iraqi El Sherbeeni said that Africa entered the third millennium burdened with an immense heritage of instability, poverty, internal and border conflicts. However, it succeeded to formulate two initiatives:
1- The African Union initiative was endorsed in 2001 and effected in 2002 and carried out by a number of African leaders, particularly Colonel Muamar Kadhafi.
2- The new partnership for development in Africa "NEPAD". This initiative was endorsed in several stages, the final being in Abuja meeting in October 2001 after it was approved by the OAU conference in Lusaka in 2001. The NEPAD plan crystallized through the integration of three separate initiatives in a final formulation, as one unified African initiative based on negotiation on the new relationship with advanced countries and international organizations. Such a relationship shall be founded on mutual commitments and performance criteria agreed upon by both parties. The African side shall pledge to take appropriate measures to achieve sustainable development in wide ranging areas including security and peace, democracy and human rights, full economic stability, organization of financial markets, education and health, role of women and their effective participation in development, consecration of law and order, political environment and agricultural diversity. The West and advanced countries shall bear the greater share of mobilizing external resources including: reducing outside debts, wide reforms in managing foreign development aid and linking them to mutual conditions and obligations between donors and African parties and encouraging the flow of foreign capital.

The initiative was discussed in the industrial countries' summit but was not given much importance. The issue of reducing foreign debts was disregarded as well as infrastructure projects. Only six billion dollars were allocated as assistance to African countries whose governments follow just policies as well as recognized governance criteria. However, the support for the initiative was poor in that the volume of required resources to serve NEPAD was nearly 60 billion dollars annually.

Some criticism in the seminar was directed to the NEPAD initiative for being an elite initiative and that it urges Africa to proceed on the road to capitalism and liberalism.

The participants called for enhancing the role of civil society in Africa and requested Arab countries to coordinate their policies towards Africa.