Agenda 2063 : Questing strategic partnership for Peace, Security and Sustainable development in Africa

Par le Professeur Isaac OLAWALE ALBERT, Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), Université d'Ibadan, Nigéria

African leaders seized the opportunity of the Golden Jubilee celebration of the African Union in May 2013 to critically interrogate the challenges of African development and elaborate a forward looking 50-year continental development plan, known as “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want”.

The Agenda moves Africa beyond Walter Rodney’s 1972 rhetoric of “How Europe underdeveloped Africa”. In this widely cited publication, Rodney talked about how Africa was deliberately exploited and undeveloped by European colonial powers. One hundred years since the colonial officials left Africa, things are rather worse for the African people except in a few countries. Several of the infrastructures left by the colonial regimes have been destroyed and new ones are hardly built. So bad are the situations that thousands of young Africans now trek across the deserts and swim across the Mediterranean to reach the former colonial powers for lifesaving opportunities. These young Africans die in their hundreds. Yet, the irregular migrations to Southern Europe continue. This creates a huge immigration crisis in Europe and a huge moral burden for African leaders.

The emerging global reality is that sustainable development is not served buffet; it is a la carte. Nations of the world go to the global market to take what they want based on their national interests; nobody goes there to act for others except the interests of the partners are interlinked. What is needed now is for the African continent to develop better bilateral and multilateral arrangements for engaging with the rest of the world. This is what Agenda 2063 is trying to promote.

The Agenda, which builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives was adopted in January 2015 as a framework for promoting long-term peace, security and sustainable development in Africa in a rapidly globalizing world. The Agenda has 7 aspirations with the 4th advocating “A peaceful and secure Africa”.  This particular aspiration has three goals (13-15): with all of them revolving around how to actionably prevent and manage African conflicts within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).

This is critical to contemporary African development for three reasons. First and foremost, the many wars and armed conflicts fought in Africa since the 1960s, destroy the infrastructure of development left by the colonial regimes. It destroys human capital in terms of those killed, maimed and displaced from their communities, sometimes across international borders. Secondly, the financial resources needed for fighting African wars prevent the continent from growing its social infrastructure. Thirdly, the management of the violent conflicts enables the rest of the world to subvert the sovereignty of several African nations, as they like.

The lesson of the contemporary situation in Africa today is that there can never be peace in the continent without development. There can never be development in the continent without peace and there can be no peace and development without Africa linking up with the global peace and security agenda. There are things the rest of the world should do to assist Africa and there are things Africa must do to help itself. How competent is Africa to constructively engage the rest of the world on these compelling issues?

The flagship programs/projects of the Agenda 2063 include the empowerment of integrated trade, transportation, technological, and banking infrastructure in Africa; silencing the gun in 2020; promoting free movement of people, goods and services and providing the forum for African leaders to dialogue regularly about the future of the continent. All these are expected to make the continent more attractive to foreign investors and reduce the ongoing crisis of youth migrations out of the continent as well as the resort of the people to violent extremism. With the projects in place, Africa can now benefit substantially from the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) and become a more respectable member of the international community.

Africa cannot achieve all these goals without the support of development partners across the globe. The first step is for the continent to leverage on some strategic partnerships that the African Union has developed with the EU, USA, Japan, China, India, the Arab League of States, South America, Turkey, Russia, Korea and Africans in the diaspora. What strategies do we need for strengthening our relationships with each of these development partners at national, bilateral and multilateral levels for attaining the goals of Agenda 2063? What are the priority areas in engaging them? Four issues are key in this respect: trade, transportation, digital technology, and energy. Africa must now drop its begging bowls for strategic trade agreements. Intra-African trade must also be promoted. Investment in transportation, digital technology, and energy provides an actionable path to this. Some supports are already being provided for attaining this goal. All over the continent, the Chinese are building airports, railways and roads. Like a few other partners, the US in partnership with Canada make efforts towards accelerating the harnessing of Africa’s vast renewable energy potentials and providing electricity to millions of people. The EU supports exponential growth of digital technology through its ICT for Development Policy for Africa aimed at oiling the MDGs and SDGs in the continent. There are several other interventions across the continent. But what do these development partners want in return and how do we balance the relationships with them in terms of cost and benefits?

African development becomes more sustainable where the continent is better committed to doing for itself as much as it gets from the rest of the world. The guiding motivation for this is the mantra of “African solutions to African problems” and the AU’s Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena”. Africans must be willing to give what it takes to develop any continent. How do we promote transparent elections and respect for human rights in Africa? How do we curb corruption in the continent? How do we improve the functionality of the peer review mechanisms of the NEPAD in a manner that could reduce those political grievances leading to the armed conflicts and wars around the continent? How do we get APSA to play more functional roles in the prevention and managing of African conflicts? All these questions can be actionably answered by taking some critical lessons from our development partners. They are able to give Africa so much because they have altruistic political leaderships that are accountable to the people; they avoid political brinksmanship; have well-structured economic systems and functional foreign policies; and invest in child and youth development for ensuring a sustainable future.

The adverse effects of armed conflicts on the social, political and economic growth of Africa is nightmarish. Dealing with these problems gives Africa a more sustainable future. Some questions can be asked around the goings-on in Nigeria on this. The AU and ECOWAS may lack the military might for assisting the country and the neighbouring states to manage the ongoing Boko Haram crisis. But where is the AU’s “Panel of the Wise” and ECOWAS’ “Council of the Wise” which normatively promised to help in promoting dialogue between the belligerents in the continent? So far, the discussions leading to the release of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok and Dapchi were facilitated by some Europeans. Why not Africans? What lessons do we have to learn from the interventions on how to dialogue with violent extremists? How do we prevent future recourse to violent extremism? APSA provides the pathways for actionably answering these questions but there are some yawning gaps to be filled. One of them is the need to invest more on functional peace education in Africa as experienced in Northern Ireland, Israel and a few other divided societies across the globe. If the present is taken as a “lost generation”, peace education assures us of a better future.

FDD18 - Photo contribution Isaac Albert_compressed 2


Isaac OLAWALE ALBERT est professeur d'histoire africaine et de Security Studies et ancien directeur de l'Institut pour la paix et les études stratégiques de l'Université d'Ibadan, au Nigéria. En 1996, il a remporté le prix Africa Peace Education du Centre pour la paix et la résolution des conflits en Afrique de l'Université d'État de Californie à Sacramento (États-Unis) et le premier prix d'éducation à la paix du KAIPTC en 2013. Il a été directeur de l’Institut des études africaines. Il était délégué fédéral à la conférence nationale de 2014 à Abuja; membre du panel présidentiel chargé de l’examen de la politique de défense du Nigéria en 2014/2015. Il a été boursier résident au Centre Bellagio de la Fondation Rockefeller en Italie en 2016 pour travailler sur les stratégies médiatiques des terroristes. Il a présenté la conférence Kofi Annan-Dag Hammarskjold 2017 au KAIPTC, à Accra, au Ghana, sur « L'engagement régional dans la consolidation de la paix en Afrique : perspectives et défis ».




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