US-Africa Leaders’ Summit: What is at Stake?

French version here.

The United States President, Joe Biden, is hosting a Summit with African heads of State and government in Washington DC from the 13th to 15th of December 2022. This will be the second US Summit with African Leaders; the first was hosted by President Obama in August 2014.  I have had the opportunity to participate in the Obama Summit as the then Resident Representative of Oxfam International to the African Union, and I have posted my reflections here.

As I am preparing to participate in the upcoming Biden Summit as part of the ONE Campaign delegation, I would like to share a few personal thoughts on what is at stake in this gathering.  

According to the White House, the Summit will demonstrate the United States enduring commitment to Africa and will underscore the importance of U.S.- Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities. The U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit aims to advance U.S.- African collaboration on the current most pressing global and regional priorities.


From the White House’s perspective, the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit will build on the values shared with the African Continents values to better:

1-        Foster new economic engagement

2-        Advance peace, security, and good governance

3-        Reinforce commitment to democracy, human rights, and civil society

4-        Work collaboratively to strengthen regional and global health security

5-        Promote food security

6-        Respond to the climate crisis

7-        Amplify diaspora ties

Africa’s Geopolitical and Economic Importance

Obviously, the summit will mirror and will be a test for the new US strategy towards Africa, which emphasizes the critical importance of the continent in meeting today’s global challenges. Africa is a key geopolitical player, one that is shaping the present and will shape the future of the world.

With one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, the largest free trade area, the most diverse ecosystems, and one of the largest regional voting groups in the United Nations, Africa is a vast continent organized in five geographic regions (Northern, Southern, Western, Eastern, and Central Africa). The continent’s current aspirations are captured in the AU Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want, a business plan aiming to realize an integrated, peaceful, and prosperous continent with its rightful place in the global arena.

The continent’s strategic importance to regional and global security and prosperity and the growing and influential role it has been playing in shaping the global system of governance have made Africa a critical political actor in global discussions. This importance can clearly be seen in the various types of diplomatic engagements and the range of partnerships established with different political blocs and countries over the last three decades.

In addition, Africa is highly attractive with its abundant natural endowments and rich human resources, its youthful, dynamic, and resilient population, and its enormous development, trade, and investment opportunities are some of the great assets and competitive advantages of the continent.

Summit Diplomacy Catching up?

Since President Obama hosted the first Summit with the continent in 2014, with the aim of helping to launch a new chapter in American – African relations, the United States has lost ground to its “competitors” in Africa. In between, President Trump had chosen to denigrate African countries and barred many of their citizens from visiting the United States, and President Biden has not done much so far to show commitment toward Africa.

In the last two years only, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Turkey, India, and Japan, held their Summits with the continent. China hosted its fourth triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Senegal, and Russia will hold its second African Summit in 2023. China has deepened its relationship with Africa, with bilateral trade jumping 35% in 2021 to a peak of $254 billion. So far, Russia has inroads, with the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group mercenaries now operating in no less than 18 African countries, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The recent votes of African countries at the UN General Assembly are clear messages that the continent can no more be taken for granted, so President Biden surely understands that America needs to catch up on its relationship with Africa and, most importantly, to adopt a new approach and new languages that is different from initiatives by the previous U.S. Administration.

Who is invited to the Summit, and who is not?

49 Leaders of the 55 African Union member States have been invited.  Leaders of Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Guinea, who have been suspended from the African Union, have not received invitations. The other criterion for an invitation is that President Biden invited only countries with whom the US has full diplomatic relations. Currently, the US does not exchange ambassadors with Eritrea and has not recognized the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a country, so though these two nations are regular members of the African Union, they have not been invited. Curiously Chad has been invited even though the current leader of the country, Mahamat Déby, recently snatched power by a coup, violating the national constitution when his father, Idriss Deby, was killed. The African Union failed to suspend Chad following the coup in what is seen as an unfortunate political double standard.

Beyond the Heads of States Meeting

The Washington Summit will also officially involve the business community, civil society, the youth, and the African Diaspora.

A Civil Society Forum on the 13th of December 2022 is to be hosted by USAID with the participation of civil society representatives and some leaders from Africa and the United States. The Forum will table the following topics for discussion: Inclusive Participation in Politics and Public Life, Anticorruption Accountability, and Workers/Labor Participation.

A Diaspora & Youth Forum on the the13th of December 2022: the African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum aims to elevate diaspora engagement to strengthen dialogue between U.S. officials and the diaspora in the United States and provide a platform for young African and diaspora leaders to fashion innovative solutions to pressing challenges. African Union has identified the African diaspora as the sixth region of the continent. The diaspora is an important resource and opportunity for engagement in the development of the continent. The Forum will feature breakout sessions on higher education, the creative industries, and environmental equity, utilizing the theme ‘‘Amplifying Voices: Building Partnerships that Last”.

A Business Forum on the 14th of December 2022 will be hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Corporate Council on Africa, in partnership with the Prosper Africa initiative. The Forum will focus on advancing two-way trade and investment partnerships that bolster Africa’s role in the global economy, scale innovation and entrepreneurship, and drive advancements in key sectors. Under the theme “Partnering for a Prosperous and Resilient Future,” the Forum will bring together African Heads of State and U.S. and African business and government leaders to advance mutually beneficial partnerships that create jobs and drive inclusive and sustainable growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Peace and Security: There will be a Peace, Security, and Governance forum, with representatives of development, defense, and diplomacy arms will talk about the linkages between democratic institutions and governance and long-term peace and prosperity.

Trade, Health, etc: An African Growth and Opportunity Act ministerial will also be convened by United States Trade Representative, as well as a health ministerial to look at how both parties could partner to build more resilient and equitable health systems to address both current and future health challenges. It will be important for African leaders to discuss the form that African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) will take after its expiration in 2025 and how its successor will fit into the new African Continental Free Trade Area.

Climate: A session with foreign ministers will also be held on supporting conservation, climate adaptation, and a just energy transition, as well as a U.S.- Africa civil and commercial space forum to discuss shared objectives on the climate crisis, promoting responsible behavior and strengthening cooperation on science and commercial space activities.

Food Security: A special session of the summit will be focused on addressing food security and food systems, one of the most crucial issues that Africa needs to invest in as a matter of urgency but also with a long-term perspective and on which the United States can be a great partner.  

Other Side Events: Several nonstate actors are planning different thematic meetings alongside the official gathering to influence the outcomes of the Summit. Learn more about those meetings here.

Which Priorities for Africa?

The upcoming US-Africa leaders’ Summit should focus on a comprehensive long-term vision for a strong and strategic US – Africa relationship to achieve the collective prosperity of American and African people. Such a relationship should be built on absolute mutual respect and shared values.

In the framework of the ongoing Summit Diplomacy around Africa involving various political blocs, the Continent should always ensure that the 7 Aspirations of its Agenda 2063 are being taken care of. Our leaders must clearly articulate these in the upcoming Washington discussions.

Here are 4 of the most crucial issues that the Summit should prioritize

1/ Food Security: The embarrassing paradox on this matter is that despite having more than 60% of the world’s fertile land, Africa remains a major importer of food, spending $35 billion annually on food imports. The war in Ukraine is cutting off some supplies to the continent, so if nothing is done, millions more Africans are in danger of falling into extreme poverty and malnutrition. The direct implication of higher food prices will be that fewer African households will be able to afford decent daily meals. Food-insecure households in the continent will be left much further behind. Consumption rates will fall, savings will be depleted, debt will increase, and assets will be liquidated, and all these have the risk of increasing instability in the continent. We have plenty of land in Africa, but most farmers still use rudimentary instruments for Agriculture. The agri-food industry is poorly developed in Africa and is mainly characterized by small-scale processing of agricultural products, which is provided by small units with very limited capacity.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has a Strategy for Agriculture Transformation in Africa as part of its High5. During its recent annual meeting in Accra, Ghana, the AfDB launched a 1.5 billion USD facility to finance food purchases for cash-strapped governments as prices rise quickly. It is urgent to prioritize investment in agriculture now at national and regional levels. It is time for Africa to feed itself. The continent needs resources to do so, and the US can assist both financially and technically.

2/ Development Finance:  Stopping the Illicit Financial Flows to boost industrialization: Every year, $89 billion leaves the African continent as Illicit Financial Flows, according to the UNCTAD. These are movements of money and assets across borders that are illegal in source, transfer, or use. It includes illicit capital getting out of the continent, tax and commercial practices like wrong invoicing of trade shipments, and criminal activities such as illegal markets, corruption, or theft.

ODA vs. IFFs: The shocking fact is that the billions lost annually to IFFs are almost equal to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) altogether. These are missed development opportunities. So, Africa loses significantly more cash to capital flight than it obtains from development aid, external borrowing, or foreign direct investment. Stopping illicit financial flows requires international cooperation and actions both within the continent and outside. Every dollar that leaves the continent is a missed opportunity to invest in areas like agriculture, food security, health and education services, and infrastructure.

Commissioned by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, a High-Level Panel led by President Thabo Mbeki made practical recommendations to tackle the IFFs.  We need to go back to those recommendations, implement them fully and pull out substantial resources to finance our development plans.

The United States Government has strong leverage to support this process, so, the upcoming Summit should address capital flight from Africa as a critical issue for the future of the continent and the global community.

3/ Youth: Job and skill development: The age structure of our population has an important impact on our economic development. The “demographic dividend” refers to economic benefits arising from a significant increase of working-aged adults vis-a-vis those who are dependents. These working-age adults must be healthy, educated, trained, skilled, and have decent jobs, and other economic opportunities should be created to meet their demands. Having a youthful population is not enough to catalyze development and prosperity.  All African countries should effectively implement the AU Roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa.

4/ Conflicts: Beyond Military Solutions: The AU itself has identified more than 20 current conflicts in the countries that make up the Union. 113 million people in Africa are currently in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The root causes of most conflicts in Africa are to be found essentially in extreme poverty, deep structural inequalities, inefficient management of natural resources, and climate change, among others. Military operations alone will not bring peace to Africa. We need to prioritize addressing the governance crisis, promote inclusive participation in politics, provide social services and boost development. Military interventions should only be at the service of this approach.

An accountability Mechanism to ensure implementation of the commitments of the US – African Summit

Unlike some of the other Summits (TICAD, FOCAC, EU-AU, etc.) The US-Africa Summit does not have a structured follow-up, implementation, and accountability process. The upcoming gathering should look at this closely and come up with a mechanism for mutual accountability that is inclusive and involves civil society organizations.  

Today it is difficult to track precisely what has been done with the commitments adopted at the Obama Summit in 2014. Having 50 heads of state and governments with big delegations flying individual jets to Washington has an important cost for the continent and the world. This Summit should lead to concrete and traceable actions that will have real impacts on the populations of both the US and Africa.

Watch this space for more updates on the upcoming Leaders’ Summit.

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Active Citizenship for an Effective Development Process in Africa

This is the summary of a paper I presented today 1st September 2021 at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, during the conference on “Good governance, participatory democracy, and social justice: Civil society as an agent of change and innovation in Africa”

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen

My main point for the 10 minutes I have, is to demonstrate how citizens’ participation in governance, which includes accountability from power holders, could make a big difference, and shorten our journey to development, reduces corruption, and obviously reduce inequality and poverty.

I will quickly look at it from a national angle to regional and continental perspectives and I will conclude with a few recommendations on how we can remove obstacles to active citizens’ participation.  

The realization of an integrated, peaceful, and economically developed Africa needs the full involvement of all segments of our society. It cannot be left in the hands of the only politicians holding office.

The conduct of national, regional, and pan African affairs should make room, both institutionally and informally for the participation of citizens as individual and their formations, in groups.

Our continental Agenda 2063 itself, recognizes that people’s ownership and mobilization are crucial,… as critical enablers to concretize Africa’s aspirations. So, for a prosperous and democratic society, the state, and a well-organized civil society should be seen as the two sides of the same coin. They complement each other. Civil society must be seen as a reservoir of social capital, capable of contributing into all aspects of national, regional and continental development.

The evidence is clear. We have seen it ! Citizens’ engagement with their leaders improves the delivery of inclusive, accessible, and responsive public service. These include the provision of healthcare, safe water, quality education and decent jobs etc…. Today, looking at the challenges that our continent is facing, supporting democratic accountability and participation towards, a people-driven development has never been more urgent.

If we exclude or limit citizens from policy development, we will experience poor political and policy accountability mechanisms. Poor accountability leads to service failure, abandoned projects, waste, institutional inefficiencies and, will further exacerbate poverty…. That is why, my organization, the ONE campaign focuses its entire actions on citizens participation, active citizenship!!!

We identify recruit, train, mobilize and provide platforms for grassroots campaigners and their formations, to engage with political leaders and policymakers in order to catalyse change.

The influence of civil society in national and continental policy making does not diminish the relevance of governmental or inter-governmental processes, rather, citizens’ actions enhance and inform it.

If we look at the area of human security, for example, because of their immersion within the society, civil society organizations have vocation, and the ability to contribute to peace building initiatives and social cohesion.

In conflict affected area, Civil Society has shown its capacity to organise the collection, analysis, and evaluation of first-hand information, allowing the identification of the sources of potential tensions as well as emerging conflicts.

While traditional conflicts were well understood by diplomats and specialists in political science, addressing adequately new conflicts, requires much more on-the-ground understanding, new skills of social and cultural analysis, the active involvement of communities and their leaders, links to vulnerable groups, and new ways of working. Most of the time, civil society organisations have unique capacities in all those areas.

At national level

Unfortunately, we have been facing a reality in which, too many countries on the continent, have adopted and continue to adopt national legislations reducing civic space. There are increased control and undue restrictions on the formation and the activities of CSOs.

Some governments perceive CSOs as economic saboteurs, inciters of violence, or, an extension of political opposition parties or even, agents of foreign interest.

The reality is that since 2012, new restrictive CSOs laws have been adopted in more than 30 countries in Africa. Limited civic space, restricts the ability of citizens to participate in public life, and speak truth to power. This constrains one of society’s primary tools to prevent political capture of the state and its resources.

Of course, promoting civic space does not tacitly imply that civil society should be unregulated and free from government oversight. We are not saying that. On the contrary, reasonable regulation is legitimate, necessary and can enhance effectiveness and accountability in the sector. Yet regulations must not be overly burdensome, driven by political motives, and design to shot down independent voices.

Africa has a proud history of civic activism.  social movements and activists were a vital component of most independence struggles, and, civil society was a driving force behind state formation and state building.

This should continue as we face new challenge. Unfortunately, CSOs are under threat!!! Especially at national level.

At Regional Level

Civil society and coalitions that are targeting regional and pan African institutions have an important role to play as a complement and a backup to national groups. They are less exposed to risks compared to national CSOs and in many cases they can really contribute, influence and pressurize member states through regional and continental bodies on regional policy issues.

While this is important, we know that, the actual implementation of decisions happens at country level, Fundamental changes in people’s life happens at national level so we should mobilize, and regroup to stand strongly against any shrinking or even shifting of civic space in our countries.   

It is then important that the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities step in, this unfortunate trend.

So, what can we do?

At continental and regional levels, we do have a strong normative framework!

The entire transformation of the OAU to the AU is justified by the importance of citizens’ participation. Other Regional bodies such as ECOWAS, SADC, EAC etc, give ways legally to CSOs participation and constitutions of many member states recognize that organized civil society is a legitimate and authentic expression of fundamental human rights…. But then, laws being made on political consideration come to mess things up…

A few suggestions:

  1. We need to first, push for a moratorium of restrictive CSO law in Africa, and bring the debate to a regional and pan Africa levels….
  2. A few progressive member states should table the issue in the regional debate then take it to continental discussion: South Africa, Botswana, Senegal, Zambia, Nigeria etc… could play a leading role. There are reasons to do so…. We cannot reach the Africa we want, the Africa that is described in the Agenda 2063…. We can’t get there without a genuine citizens participation…  
  3. I know there have been a number of analysis of existing restrictive laws but I believe we need an independent continental taskforce to be commissioned by the AU to look at the situation, review laws and regulations that affect civil society organizations and make a report to the Assembly of Union for a progressive decision.
  4. CSOs on their side need to regroup on this matter and organize…. Not agonize.
  5. I really want to believe that this gathering, the CSO Conference constitute the beginning of a continental revolution to save Civic Space…

I thank you !!!

African Union Summit Decisions in 5 Points

Dear Friends

Here are the key outcomes (unofficial) of the just-ended summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa 8 – 10 February 2020. While the theme of the year 2020 is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, no concrete decision has been taken on the matter besides the acknowledgment of the Orientation Concept Note on the theme and a request by the Assembly of the Union for a comprehensive report on the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap at the end of the year. South Africa offered to host an extraordinary Summit end of May 2020 on Silencing the Guns. In my last blog, I have suggested 7 prerequisites for the guns to be silenced in Africa.


Chairperson of the African Union for 2020: President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa

Chairperson of the African Union for 2021: President Felix Tshisekedi of DRC

Chairperson of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee HSGOC: President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda elected to replace President Macky Sall of Senegal

AU Champion for Financial Institutions: President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, to provide political leadership and awareness to accelerate their establishment as scheduled in the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

See other Champions here.


  • AU Commission to submit to the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly (Feb 2021), after due consideration by the Executive Council, practical proposals for rationalizing the Agenda and the Program of Work of the Assembly, as well as streamlining the program of meetings and side events. of the Assembly and the Executive Council.
  • The Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) has a delegated authority to consider and adopt provisionally the Rules of Procedures of the Assembly and the Statute of the Commission during its 37th Ordinary Session in June/July 2020;
  • The Protocol on the Relations between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) is adopted and the Chairperson of the Commission authorized to sign the Protocol on behalf of the African Union;
  • The following eminent Persons have been appointed to assist for the AU Senior Leadership job profiles, competency requirements and assessment process: a) Central Africa: H.E Yang Philemon (Cameroon) b) East Africa: Amb. Konjit Sinegiorgis (Ethiopia) c) Southern Africa: Amb. Tuliameni Kalomoh (Namibia) d) West Africa:   Hon. Hassan Bubacar Jallow (The Gambia). North Africa to nominate 1 representative to join the group.

Read my previous articles on the AU Reform here.

New Structures of the following organs have been adopted:

  • African Union Commission Departmental Structure;
  • Continental Operational Centre – (Khartoum);
  • African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration – (Mali);
  • African Migration Observatory (the Observatory) – (Morocco);
  • African Union Mechanism For Police Cooperation (Afripol) – (Algeria);
  • AU Centre for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (AUCPCRD) – (Egypt);
  • Secretariat of African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) – (Lesotho);
  • African Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) – (Equatorial Guinea).

The Executive Council got delegated authority to appoint (not only to elect) members of the following AU Organs and Institutions:  

  1. African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  2. African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child;
  3. African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  4. African Union Advisory Board on Corruption;
  5. African Union Commission on International Law;
  6. President and Vice President of the Pan African University; and
  7. African Space Agency.


  • Mr. Wamkele Mene (South Africa) is appointed as Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area for a four-year term. The Permanent Secretariat of the AfCFTA to start operating by 31 March 2020
  • AfCFTA Council of Ministers to have an Extraordinary Summit on 30 May 2020 to approve all instruments required for the start of trading under the AfCFTA on 1 July 2020. South Africa to host the Summit
  • 6 Countries that made reservations (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) decided to “compromise their national interests in the interest and solidarity of the African continent to join the rest of the States Parties in implementing the modalities on tariff liberalization”.
  • AfCFTA shall not accept requests for observer status from States that are not Member States of the African Union


The following Legal Instruments have been adopted:

  1. Statute of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
  2. Rules of Procedure of the Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism;
  3. Protocol on Relations between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities;
  4. Rules of Procedures of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting;
  5. Statute for the Establishment of the African Centre for the Study and Research on Migration;
  6. Statute for the Establishment of African Migration Observatory;
  7. Statute for the Establishment of Continental Operational Centre in Sudan for Combating Irregular Migration.


The following 10 Members have been elected for the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union for a 2-year term starting from April 2020:

  1. Cameroon: Central
  2. Chad: Central
  3. Djibouti: Eastern
  4. Ethiopia: Eastern
  5. Egypt: Northern
  6. Malawi: Southern
  7. Mozambique: Southern
  8. Benin: Western
  9. Ghana: Western
  10. Senegal: Western

The New PSC (from 1st April 2020) will be composed of:  Algeria, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Senegal.


  • 34th AU Summit: 6 & 7 February 2021 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 38th Session of the Executive Council: 3 & 4 February 2021 in Addis Ababa
  • Extraordinary Summit of Silencing the Guns: May 2020 in South Africa
  • Extraordinary Summit on AfCFTA: 30 May 2020, in South Africa
  • 37th Session of the Executive Council: July 2020, N’Djamena, Chad
  • Next Mid-Year Coordination Meeting between the AU and the RECs: 4 July 2020 in N’Djamena, Chad. AU Commission to consult with the RECs, Regional Mechanisms and Member States with a view to finalize the detailed proposal for an effective division of labor between the AU and RECs and present it to the 2020 Mid-Year Coordination meeting, after due consideration by the 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council.

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Les Dirigeants Africains Peuvent-ils Faire Taire les Armes en 2020 Comme Promis? 7 Prérequis Incontournables

English version here 

Les Chefs d’État de l’Union africaine se réuniront prochainement pour leur 33eme session ordinaire prévue pour les 9 et 10 février 2020 à Addis-Abeba, en Éthiopie.

Comme d’habitude, ceci est le premier de ma série de réflexions et d’analyses que je partagerai sur ce blog  avant et après le Sommet.

Le thème de l’année 2020 est «Faire taire les armes: créer des conditions propices au développement de l’Afrique». J’ai eu l’honneur de contribuer à ce débat depuis 2017 à l’Union africaine sur invitation du Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l’Union comme personne ressource, à plusieurs de ses sessions sur la question.

Dans leur déclaration solennelle du 50e anniversaire de l’Union africaine, les Chefs d’État et de Gouvernement africains se sont engagés «à atteindre l’objectif d’une Afrique sans conflits, à faire de la paix une réalité pour tous nos peuples et à débarrasser le continent des guerres, conflits,  violations des droits de l’homme, des catastrophes humanitaires, et prévenir le génocide ».

Silencing... French image

En novembre 2017, le Conseil de paix et de sécurité a adopté une « feuille de route traitant des étapes pratiques pour faire taire les armes à l’horizon 2020 ». La feuille de route a également été approuvée par le Sommet des Chefs d’État. La Feuille de route reconnaît qu’au-delà des efforts politiques et militaires en cours, il y a un besoin urgent d’interventions structurelles dans le domaine du développement socio-économique, pour tenir compte des questions de gouvernance, des jeunes et des femmes, de l’emploi et de l’éducation, du changement climatique et d’autres facteurs pertinents.

Qu’est-ce qui pousse les individus et groupes d’individus  à détenir et faire confiance aux armes?

Aujourd’hui, seulement 1/3 de toutes les armes légères en circulation sont aux mains des forces de sécurité légalement constituées. Les 2/3 sont détenues illégalement par des acteurs non étatiques ou des individus, ce qui est préoccupant car, l’utilisation de ces armes affecte directement et indirectement des centaines de milliers de personnes et compromet gravement nos engagements en faveur du développement durable.

Chaque année, la Commission de l’Union africaine présente un rapport sur l’état de la paix et de la sécurité sur le continent à l’Assemblée des Chefs d’État, et des décisions sont prises en conséquence, mais la paix ne se fait toujours pas voir. Dans de nombreux cas, les gens détiennent, gardent et font confiance aux armes, parce que leurs divers problèmes récurrents restent non résolus par les détenteurs du pouvoir.

Les institutions africaines doivent se comporter différemment

Les détenteurs d’armes illégales sur notre continent ne considèrent pas leurs propres actions comme illégales mais plutôt légitimes contre des problèmes tels que le partage inéquitable des ressources nationales, la confiscation du pouvoir d’État et des ressources d’État par un individu ou un groupe d’individus, des formes modernes de changements anticonstitutionnels de gouvernement qui se manifestent aujourd’hui par des élections frauduleuses ou «cosmétiques» pour se maintenir au pouvoir, souvent avec la bénédiction déguisée  de certaines de nos institutions régionales et continentales à travers l’observation des élections qui ne portent principalement que sur les opérations de vote, et qui sont toujours «déclarées libres et équitables».

Si nous maintenons cette façon de conduire nos affaires, je crains que nous ne revenions ici à la fin de 2020 ou même 2030, seulement pour réaliser que les armes ne sont pas réduites au silence sur notre continent. Cela veut dire que le voyage vers notre Agenda 2063 deviendra plus long que prévu et les promesses contenues dans l’Agenda 2030 ne seront que de beaux rêves. En conséquence, la crise de confiance de nos populations – en particulier les jeunes – envers nos institutions, les instances régionales et continentales, va plutôt augmenter. Les populations affectées et marginalisées continueront bien sûr de ne faire confiance qu’aux armes.

Je dois insister sur le fait que la modification des constitutions nationales aux fins de garantir des mandats présidentiels supplémentaires ou illimités, renforcés par des élections injustes, constitue un réel risque de fragilité qui ne contribuera pas à faire taire les armes en Afrique. Pour que la campagne «Faire taire les armes» atteigne ses objectifs, nous devons faire les choses différemment. Nous devons être plus courageux si nous voulons voir des résultats différents.

Nos institutions continentales et régionales devraient avoir le pouvoir et l’autorité de faire un monitoring objectif de la performance des États membres dans la mise en œuvre de nos valeurs partagées qui sont contenues dans les nombreuses décisions, cadres d’action, traités, etc adoptés . Il devrait y avoir un mécanisme solide de sanction pour violation de nos valeurs partagées. Les sanctions ne doivent pas seulement viser le non-paiement des contributions financières. Je ne vois pas d’autre moyens pour changer l’Afrique et y assurer la paix et la sécurité.

Curieusement, l’Assemblée des Chefs d’Etat de l’Union Africaine dans sa dernière décision prise au Niger en juillet 2019 sur «l’Année pour faire taire les armes» a souligné le lien entre la bonne gouvernance, la paix, la stabilité et le développement et a reconnu que ces concepts sont intimement liés et ne peuvent pas être traités les uns sans les autres.

Ça ne commence pas forcément par les armes

La disponibilité des armes ne crée pas nécessairement des conflits. Mais leur prolifération et leur circulation incontrôlée peuvent entraîner une propagation plus rapide de la violence et amplifier leurs effets dévastateurs. Bien entendu, les pays sont moins sûrs si les armes sont facilement disponibles. Cependant, les conflits en cours en Afrique n’ont pas commencé simplement parce que des armes étaient disponibles. En fait, les armes sont arrivées plus tard dans la plupart des cas parce que les problèmes ne sont pas résolus.

7 Prérequis pour faire taire les armes en Afrique

Voici quelques conditions préalables clés que l’Union africaine, les États membres, les organismes régionaux, les citoyens et leurs groupes ainsi que les partenaires devraient rechercher si nous voulons vraiment faire taire les armes:

1 / La constitution et les lois de tous les États membres de l’Union africaine garantissent tous les droits civils et politiques à tous les citoyens sans discrimination. Cela signifie également que des manifestations pacifiques peuvent avoir lieu chaque fois que les citoyens ne sont pas satisfaits de la conduite des affaires publiques, et sans intimidation ni violence contre les citoyens.

2 / Les systèmes de justice de tous les États membres sont indépendants et exempts de pressions indues de la part de l’exécutif dans leur fonctionnement. Les auteurs de violations des droits de l’homme et les criminels sont effectivement poursuivis quel que soit leur statut social et politique et la réparation des victimes est assurée au niveau national… Si cela se produit constamment, la Cour pénale internationale n’aura plus grand chose à faire…Souvenons-nous que sans justice et sans redevabilité, les gens perdront confiance en tout sauf en les armes.

3 / Les institutions étatiques mettent en place des mécanismes socio-économiques et juridiques pour lutter contre les inégalités, l’extrême pauvreté et la corruption à tous les niveaux. Les flux financiers illicites sont considérablement réduits… De gros investissements sont réalisés à partir des ressources nationales, soutenues par la coopération internationale Sud-Sud et Nord-Sud, pour assurer les services sociaux essentiels, principalement l’éducation, les infrastructures et les soins de santé à tous les citoyens.

4 / Des élections crédibles sont regulierement tenues et gérées par des commissions électorales indépendantes sans aucune ingérence, et les résultats du vote reflètent le véritable choix de la majorité mais, les minorités sont respectées, délibérément protégées et ont la possibilité de participer aux affaires publiques à travers différentes autres institutions et par les lois et les règlements. Cela conduira naturellement à une situation où les élections seront davantage influencées par des programmes politiques et non par des origines ethniques. Les perdants des élections, y compris les anciens Chefs d’État ou les Chefs de l’opposition, sont traités avec dignité, respectés et bénéficient de la protection de l’État, mais ils sont tenus responsables s’ils ont commis de crimes.

5 / Des programmes innovants créent des opportunités d’éducation et de formation diverses et de qualité. Le secteur privé est réglementé, accompagné et encouragé pour créer de nouvelles opportunités d’emploi pour les jeunes. Les institutions publiques garantissent l’égalité des chances aux citoyens, sans discrimination d’être employés et engagés dans les affaires publiques.

6 / Le Traité de l’Union africaine sur la libre circulation des personnes et des biens est ratifié et pleinement mis en œuvre sur tout le continent. Le passeport panafricain ou même une carte d’identité africaine standardisée est délivrée rapidement sur demande aux citoyens. Ainsi, l’interaction entre les peuples de différentes nationalités et régions du continent catalyse d’importantes opportunités d’apprentissage, crée une synergie et stimule notre intégration économique. Les jeunes ne ressentent plus le besoin d’immigrer vers l’extérieur. Aucun décès n’est enregistré en Mer Méditerranée ou dans le désert du Sahara et une bonne partie de la diaspora rentre au bercail pour participer à la reconstruction du continent.

7 / L’Union africaine regagne la confiance de ses citoyens et devient une organisation véritablement axée sur les citoyens, et efficace pour assurer la mise en œuvre de ses décisions par les États membres. L’espace civique est garanti pour que les citoyens et leurs groupes participent à la vie politique. Cela signifie que l’UA a déclaré illégales toutes les lois draconiennes votées, empêchant la société civile d’opérer normalement dans les Etats membres. La liberté d’association est respectée mais les ONG sont redevables pour leurs actions.

Si tous ces prérequis sont observés, les armes seront sûrement réduites au silence en Afrique.

Observez cet endroit!!!

Je partagerai bientôt ma note d’information sur les autres questions clés de l’ordre du jour du Sommet à venir.

Veuillez m’envoyer vos commentaires et suggestions par e-mail à ou sur What’sApp / Telegram au +19172160155

Can African Leaders Silence the Guns in 2020 as Promised? 7 Unavoidable Prerequisites!

La version en Français est ici

Dear Friends

The Heads of State of the African Union will soon meet for their 33rd Ordinary Session scheduled for the 9th and 10th February 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

As usual, this is the first of my series of reflections and analysis to be shared on this blog  in the lead up to the Summit and after.

The theme of the year 2020 is “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”. I have had the honor to contribute to this debate several times since 2017 at the African Union as an invited Guest Speaker at the Peace and Security Council of the Union to its sessions on the issue.

In their Solemn Declaration of the 50th Anniversary of the African Union, African Heads of State and Government have committed themselves “to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa, to make peace a reality for all our people and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters, and violent conflicts and to prevent genocide.” They further pledged “not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars by 2020”.

Theme 2020 pictureIn November 2017, the Peace and Security Council adopted a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to silencing the guns by 2020. The Roadmap has been also endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State. The Roadmap recognizes that, beyond the ongoing political and military efforts, there is a need for structural interventions in the area of socio-economic development, to allow for issues of governance, youth and women, employment and education, climate change and other pertinent factors to play constructive roles in the efforts to silencing the guns in Africa.

Why are people holding and trusting the guns?

Only 1/3 of all small arms in circulation today are in the hands of legally constituted security forces. The remaining 2/3 are held illegally by non-state groups or individuals and this is cause for concern because, the use of these weapons, directly and indirectly, affects hundreds of thousands of people and severely undermines our commitments for sustainable development.

Every year, the African Union Commission presents a report on the state of peace and security in the continent to the Assembly of Heads of State, and decisions are made accordingly but peace is still not happening. People are holding, keeping and trusting the guns, mostly because their various recurrent problems remain unsolved by power holders.

African institutions must do business differently

Illegal weapon bearers in our continent do not consider their own actions as illegal, but rather legitimate against issues like the inequitable sharing of national resources, the confiscation of state power and state resources by an individual or group of individuals, modern forms of unconstitutional change of government manifested today by fraudulent or “cosmetic elections” to ensure additional or unlimited terms on power, often with the hidden blessing of some of our regional and continental bodies through election observation that mostly look at just the voting operations, often “declared free and fair”.

If we stick to the current way of doing business, I am afraid we will come back here at the end of 2020 or even 2030 or later, only to realize that guns are not silenced in our continent. This means that the journey to our Agenda 2063 will become longer than planned and the promises contained in the Agenda 2030 will remain beautiful dreams. As a result, the mistrust of our populations – especially the youth – and in our institutions, regional and continental bodies, will rather increase. Affected and marginalized populations will continue trusting nothing else but the guns.

I should insist that changing national constitutions in order to ensure additional or unlimited presidential terms, reinforced by unfair elections constitute a real risk for fragility that will not help to silence the guns in Africa. So, for the “Silencing the Guns” Campaign to happen, we must do things differently. We must do something courageous and probably painful if we want to see different results.

Our continental and regional bodies should be given power and authority to objectively monitor member states’ performance in implementing our adopted shared values contained in the numerous progressive decisions, frameworks, treaties adopted by the African Union.  There should be a serious sanction mechanism to be used in case of violation of our values on which the African Union was built. Sanctions should not be limited to the non-payment of financial contributions to the Union. I see no other ways to change Africa and ensure peace and security.

Curiously, the Assembly of the Union in its last decision taken in Niger in July 2019 on the “Year of Silencing the Guns” underscored the nexus between good governance, peace, stability and development and recognized that these concepts are thoroughly intertwined and cannot be considered exclusive of each other.

It does not necessarily start with the guns

The availability of arms does not necessarily create conflicts. But their proliferation and their uncontrolled circulation can lead to a more rapid spread of violence and, magnify their devastating effects. Of course, countries are less safe if weapons are easily available. However, conflicts that are going on in Africa have not started just because arms were available. In fact, arms come in later in most of the cases because problems are not resolved. So silencing or collecting the guns can only succeed with a holistic approach.

7 Prerequisites to silence the guns in Africa

Here are some key prerequisites that the African Union, member states, regional bodies, citizens and their formations, as well as partners, should look after if we truly want to silence the guns in Africa:

1/ Constitutions and laws of all member states of the African Union guaranty all civil and political rights for all citizens with no discrimination. This also means that peaceful demonstrations can be held whenever citizens are not happy about the conduct of public affairs, without intimidation or violence against citizens.

2/ Justice systems of all member states are made independent and free of undue pressure from the executive in their functioning. Human rights violators and criminals are effectively prosecuted regardless of their social and political status and reparation for victims is ensured at the national level… If this happens constantly, the International Criminal Court will have nothing else to do… Let us remember that without justice and accountability people will lose their trust in everything except for the guns.

3/ State institutions set up socio-economic and legal mechanisms to tackle inequality and extreme poverty and to combat corruption at all levels. Illicit Financial Flows are significantly reduced and stopped… Heavy investments are made from national resources, supported by international South-South and North-South cooperation, to ensure essential services, mainly, quality education, infrastructures, and health care are accessible for all citizens.

4/ Credible elections are regularly held and managed by independent electoral boards with no interference, and the results of the pools reflect the true choice of the majority but, minorities are respected, deliberately protected and given the opportunity to participate in public affairs through different other institutions, by the law and affirmative actions. This naturally will lead to a situation where elections are influenced more by political agendas and not by ethnic origins.  Losers of elections including former Heads of state and opposition leaders are treated with dignity, respect and enjoy state protection, but they are held accountable if they are responsible for crimes.

5/ Innovative programs create diverse and quality education and training opportunities for the youth. The private sector is regulated, accompanied and encouraged to create increased job opportunities.  State institutions ensure equal opportunity to citizens with no discrimination, to be employed and engaged in public affairs.

6/ The African Union Treaty on Free Movement of People and Goods is universally ratified and fully implemented all over the continent… The Pan African Passport or even an African standardized ID is delivered promptly upon request to citizens. So, Interaction between peoples of different nationalities and regions of the continent catalyzes strong opportunities for learning, creates synergy, and boosts our economic integration. Young people feel no need to immigrate to Europe or America.  No death is recorded in the Mediterranean Sea or in the Sahara Desert and, a good part of the diaspora comes back home to take part in the reconstruction of the continent.

7/ The African Union gains trust from its citizens and becomes a truly people-driven body, and effective to ensure the implementation of its decisions by member states… A genuine and effective space is provided for citizens and their formations to be part of the decision-making process. But this means that the AU has declared illegal, all draconian laws against CSOs in member states, and pushed countries to abolish them, and replace them by provisions that respect universally agreed freedom of association principles while ensuring accountability of NGOs.

If we do these, guns will be surely silenced in Africa.

Watch this Space!!!

I will soon share my briefing note on the key other issues on the upcoming Summit agenda.

Please send me your comments and suggestions via email to or what’s App/Telegram to +19172160155 

African Continental Free Trade Area Launch: Opportunities and Challenges

Last update: 7 July 2019

In this blog, I am sharing 7 takeaways from the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area, held in Niger on the 7th July 2019, but also some possible pitfalls that may obstruct or delay the implementation of the AfCFTA in Africa.

The idea of the an Africa Free trade area was first raised by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the then President of Ghana, during his famous speech at the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the 25th May 1963 in Addis Ababa, as part of his proposed business plan for African integration. In 2013, the African Union launched Agenda 2063 with 14 flagship projects including the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Adopted in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018, the negotiated framework has entered into force on the 30th May 2019 and officially launched during a special Summit of Heads of State of the African Union in Niamey, Niger this 7th July 2019. As of today, 54 out of the 55 African Union Member States have signed the Treaty and 27 of them have ratified it, the latest being Nigeria and Benin at the launch ceremony of the operationalization phase of the Treaty. Eritrea is now the only African country that has not signed the Treaty. The launch of the AfCFTA  is probably the most important concrete step in the African integration project since the setting up of the OAU and its replacement of the AU.

7 Key Takeaways from the AU Summit:

AU Summit

  • Trading under the AfCFTA will commence on the 1st July 2020
  • Ghana has been chosen to host the continental Secretariat of the AfCFTA
  • 7th July will be officially celebrated as the Day of African Integration in commemoration of the historic operationalization launch of the AfCFTA
  • The following 5 operational instruments of the AfCFTA have been negotiated, adopted and launched together with the AfCFTA operationalization phase: A/The Portals of The Rules of Origin, B/The Online Negotiating Portal , C/The Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, D/The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) and E/ The African Trade Observatory Dashboard.
  • The 2nd phase of the negotiations should end in December 2020 and the documents will be submitted to the AU Assembly for adoption. Phase 2 issues are investment, competition policy, and intellectual property rights. These will provide important complement to the Phase 1 issues of trade in goods and services.
  • AfCFTA aims to progressively reduce and eliminate customs duties and non-tariff barriers on goods. The goal is for 90% of products to have a zero duty across the continent. 6 countries have been allowed for 85% only for the first 15 years.
  • Afreximbank committed to support the AfCFTA with 25 Billion USD mostly for the establishment of the online payment platform which will result in 5 Billion USD savings in transaction costs annually.

About the African Continental Free Trade Area

AfCFTA pic

The Treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area aims to 1/ Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, therefore, pave the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union, 2/ Expand intra-Africa trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization, facilitation regimes and instruments across the continent, 3/ Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes , 4/Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources in Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area then provides an opportunity to promote policies and resources that could create conditions for harnessing Africa demographic dividend in the context of creating space for jobs, especially for the youth and economic diversification. This requires attention to expediting domestic capital formation and using capital market strategies to drive the creation and expansion of small and medium enterprises involving youth ownership.

If genuinely implemented, the AfCFTA will provide a framework to ease the cost of doing business within Africa. It will aggregate the very fragmented African market but will the continent quickly address non-tariff barriers, such as infrastructure backlogs, border corruption, heavy bureaucracy, poor communication means etc? Above all do we have enough to trade among ourselves with this ambitious trade agreement while our economies are mostly alike and largely dominated by the exportation of raw material? To take full advantage of the AfCFTA African leaders should deliberately and aggressively invest in industrialization without waiting. An initial focus should be on agriculture and agro-industry development.

If fully ratified, the AfCFTA will open the largest free trade zone in the world with a combined GDP of around $3 Trillion and more than 1.2 billion consumers. AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, which is less than 17% (70% in Europe, 50% in Asia). The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated that intra-Africa trade would likely increase to 52.3 % by 2020 due to the AfCFTA.

Pitfalls that may threaten the implementation of the AfCFTA

The implementation of the AfCFTA is not going to be as easy as it looks in a continent currently fragmented in several economic/trade zones with a poor business infrastructure and with the existing numerous trade agreements with outside partners. The following issues are some of the gray areas that may delay the implementation of the AfCFTA beyond the July 2020 target date:

  • The treaty on free movement of people adopted even before the AfCFTA treaty is not attracting ratification from member states. As of end of June 2019 only 3 countries have ratified it. How can we trade without being able to move freely within the continent?
  • Will poorer countries with insufficient natural resources and landlocked benefit from the AfCFTA the same as mineral-rich countries that are in an advanced stage of industrialization? For example about 50% of Africa’s cumulative GDP is contributed by Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa only. Without a compensation mechanism for poorer and disadvantaged countries, will the argument of benefits from free trade be convincing for all? There is a need for comprehensive policy-preferential treatment for the most at-risk economies. As we move, Member sates should then build an efficient and participatory institutional architecture to avoid leaving some economies behind.
  • How will the 90% tariff line rule fairly apply if – as it is the case in some countries – a single product (oil, coffee, cocoa for example) represents more than 70% of all the country’s exportation?
  • What will happen to the existing specific and competitive  bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between African countries and current outside partners such as the European Union?

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African Union Summit in Niger: Historic Rendezvous!

Last update: 1st July 2019

The African Union Heads of State will hold an extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on the 7th July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. The Summit will be dedicated to the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA as well as its operational instruments.

The extraordinary Summit will be held in the margins of the inaugural session of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (8th July) that replaces the previous mid-year AU Summit, as decided within the framework of the ongoing African Union reform.

The Executive Council of the AU (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) will have its ordinary session on the 4th & 5th July on the same occasion deliberate on important documents and reports of AU organs including most likely the 2020 budget of the Union the legal documents of the new African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the theme of the year 2020 among other things.

In this personal blog I am sharing an overview of the key items on the Agenda of these important gatherings, the outcome of which would be a big step toward the  implementation of the Agenda 2063, the Africa we want.

The Launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area: What Expectations?

The Treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area aims to 1/ Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, therefore, pave the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union, 2/ Expand intra-Africa trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization, facilitation regimes and instruments across the continent, 3/ Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes , 4/Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources in Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area then provides an opportunity to promote policies  and resources that could create conditions for harnessing Africa demographic dividend in the context of creating space for jobs, especially for the youth and economic diversification. This requires attention to expediting domestic capital formation and using capital market strategies to drive the creation and expansion of small and medium enterprises involving youth ownership.

If genuinely implemented, the AfCFTA will provide a framework to ease the cost of doing business within Africa. It will aggregate the very fragmented African market  but,… will the continent quickly address non-tariff barriers, such as infrastructure backlogs, border corruption, poor communication means etc? Above all I am also wondering if we have enough to trade among ourselves with this ambitious trade agreement while our economies are mostly alike and largely dominated by the exportation of raw material. To take full advantage of the AfCFTA African leaders should deliberately and aggressively invest in industrialization without waiting. An initial focus should be on agriculture and agro-industry development.

The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) entered into force on 30th May 2019 for the 24 countries that ratified it. 52 of the 55 AU Member states signed the AfCFTA. Only Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria have not signed the Treaty. If fully ratified, the AfCFTA will open the largest free trade zone in the world with a collective GDP of over $3 trillion and more than 1.2 billion consumers. AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, which accounts roughly for 17% only of all the continent’s exports. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated that intra-Africa trade would likely increase to 52.3 % by 2020 due to the AfCFTA.

The Extraordinary Summit

Hotel Niamey

Beside the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA, the AU Summit’s delegations to be hosted in the newly built Radisson Blu Hotel of Niamey are expected to launch the following operational instruments of the treaty.

  • Rules of Origin Portal
  • Tariff Concession Portals
  • Portal on Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers
  • Digital Payments and Clearing System
  • African Trade Observatory Dashboard

The Niamey Summit will surely be one of the most attended  AU Summit by Heads of State and other personalities in recent time.  Special guests will likely include the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevêdo, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Dr.  Mukhisa Kituyi, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) Professor  Benedict Okey Oramah, the Executive Director of International Trade Center Dr. Arancha Gonzalez, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica among others.

The Summit will also consider and approve a set of other decisions coming from the Executive Council as part of the reform of the African Union.

On the Agenda of the Executive Council

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs will most likely discuss and eventually make decisions on the following:

  • The legal instruments of the new African Union Development Agency – NEPAD including the statutes and the rules of procedures of its governing structures
  • The new statutes of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)
  • AU budget for 2020: the current draft budget is around 647 Million USD, more than 60% of which will be paid by external partners
  • The Theme of the year 2020. The current proposal is:“Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”
  • The Implementation of Agenda 2063
  • The African Court on Human and People’s Rights
  • The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
  • The Challenges and Ratification/Accession and Implementation of the OAU/AU Treaties and decisions

In addition the Council will consider the agenda, working documents and expected outcomes of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.

Discussions and decisions on the new departmental structure of the AU Commission in the framework of the African Union reform will likely be differed  to the February 2020 Summit.

Several side events are also on the Summit agenda.

The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities: The way forward toward Effectiveness and Efficiency?


From now on, according to a decision of the Assembly of the Union, there will be only one ordinary AU Summit per year instead of the two Summits previously held. The Mid-year Summit has now become a Coordination Meeting with the Regional Economic Communities (RECS). The Permanent Representatives Committee (Ambassadors) and the Executive Council of the Union will normally convene as before, prior to the Coordination Meeting. In Niamey, the rules of procedure of the coordination meeting will be considered and eventually adopted. The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting will normally be the highest committee for the African Union and RECs to align their work and coordinate the implementation of the continental integration agenda. The rules of procedures to be discussed in Niamey will define the composition of the gathering, criteria for participation, the running of its business, powers and decision making mechanisms. These policies would have to be adopted ultimately by the Assembly of the Union.

Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are regional groupings of African States each lead by a Head of State or Government on a rotational basis.  Currently the African Union recognizes 8 RECs from the 5 geographical regions of the continent. They are seen as the building blocks of the African Union in its economic integration process. The 8 RECs are: AMUCEN-SADCOMESAEACECCASECOWASIGAD and SADC.

The RECs work more and more closely with the African Union and are expected to serve their member States with the implementation of the regional integration agenda. The RECs were formed on either historical, political or economic basis. Their members are generally of more than one regional economic community and they operate at different levels of capacity and efficiency. You can read more about the RECs here.

The launch of the mid-year coordination meeting between the AU and the RECs carries the hope to deal with the cumbersome issue of overlap, duplication and sometime competition between the African Union and the RECs, to finally insure complementarity, subsidiarity and to use the comparative advantages  of each of the regional bodies vis a vis the African Union. It will also create an important platform to track the implementation of the African Union decisions at country level; more than 80% of which remain in the shelves untouched according to various reports.

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L’Union Africaine Suspend le Soudan: Quelles en sont les Conséquences ?

English version here 

En réponse à la répression sanglante le Lundi 3 Juin 2019, du sit-in des manifestants civils soudanais,  qui exigent des  militaires au pouvoir depuis la chute d’Omar Bashir , un gouvernement civil et démocratique, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité (CPS) de l’Union Africaine a sorti ses muscles.

La 854eme Session du Conseil  a décidé, «conformément aux instruments pertinents de l’Union Africaine, en particulier l’Acte Constitutif de l’Union, le Protocole relatif à la création du Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité et la Charte Africaine de la Démocratie, des Elections et de la Gouvernance, de suspendre, avec effet immédiat, la participation de la République du Soudan à toutes les activités de l’UA, jusqu’à la mise en place effective d’une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, seule voie à même de permettre au Soudan de sortir de la crise actuelle». C’est une décision sans appel, claire et non équivoque qui suscite quand même quelques questions juridiques, politiques et de clarification. Je vais en aborder quelques-unes dans ce blog.


Je rappelle que les affirmations de ce blog sont purement personnelles et n’engagent pas mes employeurs actuel ou passés.

 Quelles sont les implications directes de la suspension d’un Etat membre des Activités de l’Union Africaine ?

Les textes évoqués par le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans ses différentes sessions  sur la situation au Soudan n’ont pas donnés tous les détails  sur les conséquences d’une suspension d’un état membre.

Sur le plan politique Il faut reconnaitre que la suspension du  Soudan affaiblit la légitimité internationale, déjà fragile du Conseil militaire de transition au pouvoir. L’Union Africaine a un poids politique incontestable dont la décision influencerait certainement des partenaires  internationaux du Soudan.  Aucun régime politique ne voudrait être dans une situation de suspension d’une organisation de 55 états membres, la plus importante institution pan Africaine sur le continent. En outre, les violations odieuses des droits de l’homme qui ont conduit à cette suspension, notamment le viol présumé de femmes et de filles, ont rendu la situation encore plus sombre. Les Nations Unies ont également condamné le recours excessif à la force par les forces de sécurité à l’encontre de civils et ont appelé à une enquête indépendante.

Dans la pratique la suspension d’un état aux activités de l’Union implique que les représentants dudit état  ne seront plus invités  aux activités des organes de l’Union jusqu’à la levée de la suspension. Ils perdent naturellement  leurs droits de vote. L’état en question ne pourra pas non plus abriter de réunions des organes de l’Union. Tous les organes et programmes sont concernés.  Ses représentants élus dans les comités et groupes de travail n’y auront plus accès comme membres.  Il n’est cependant pas clair si les représentants de l’état suspendu peuvent être  autorisés  à siéger dans les séances non-fermées  comme observateurs et sans droit de vote. A mon avis si la séance admet des observateurs (non-états membres de l’UA), un représentant d’un état suspendu devrait pouvoir y assister sans avoir droit à la parole et au vote. Il faut quand-même préciser que la suspension d’un état des activités de l’Union n’arrête pas  l’appartenance de cet état  à l’Union Africaine. En conséquence l’état suspendu doit continuer d’honorer ses obligations vis-à-vis de l’Union telles que les cotisations au budget de l’Union. D’ailleurs c’est dans cet esprit que l’Union Africaine continuera d’accompagner le processus de normalisation en collaboration avec la Communauté économique régionale géographiquement concernée. Dans le cas d’espèce, c’est l’IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) dont fait partie le Djibouti, l’Erythrée, l’Ethiopie, le Kenya, la Somalie, le Soudan, le Sud Soudan et  l’Ouganda.

Quels en sont les effets sur les citoyens de l’état suspendu ?  La Déclaration de Lomé de Juillet 2000 sur les changements inconstitutionnels de gouvernement suggère qu’il  faut veiller à ce que les citoyens ordinaires du pays concerné ne souffrent pas de manière disproportionnée du fait de l’application de sanctions aux tenants du pouvoir. Néanmoins dans la pratique l’impact de la suspension sur les citoyens est inévitable surtout si la suspension dure dans le temps.  Par exemple la Centrafrique avait été suspendue pendant trois ans, mais j’imagine que ce qui importe le plus ici pour les citoyens soudanais c’est le soutien politique et moral que représente la décision du Conseil par rapport à leur droit légitime à l’avènement d’un état démocratique.  Le Conseil a notamment réaffirmé « la solidarité continue de l’Union Africaine avec le peuple soudanais dans ses aspirations à un cadre constitutionnel et à des institutions pouvant permettre à leur pays de connaitre des avancées dans ses efforts sur la voie de la transformation démocratique »

Pourquoi la suspension du Soudan n’as pas été automatique aussitôt après le coup d’Etat comme dans d’autres cas dans le passé ?

Le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité semble utiliser ce mécanisme au cas par cas  pour plusieurs raisons. La plus importante est que  le mécanisme de la Déclaration de Lomé et les autres instruments cités par le Conseil  avaient été rédigés dans un contexte de coups d’état classiques ou on ne connaissait pas tellement de soulèvements  populaires et les révolutions de la rue qui ont lieu de nos jours. Il est aussi vrai que l’espace démocratique s’est largement étendu en Afrique…  Il y a donc un problème de caractérisation des faits face à la  situation du Soudan aujourd’hui, mais aussi à celle de l’Egypte par le passé, de l’Algérie, du Zimbabwe etc. Il importe que l’Union Africaine se penche sur la définition du cadre d’intervention en cas de soulèvement populaire. Dans le cas du Soudan par exemple, le Conseil a  visiblement tenté de donner une chance aux militaires pour parvenir rapidement à un accord avec les civils, mais les évènements sanglants de cette semaine et l’absence de progrès dans les discussions ont fait changer la donne.


Au-delà de la suspension du Soudan… le jeu des alliances avec ou sans l’Afrique.

D’aucuns se demandent si la suspension du Soudan des activités de l’Union Africaine est suffisante pour  faire courber les militaires au pouvoir.  Il faut déjà reconnaitre que le langage et la position du Conseil dans le cas soudanais est l’un des plus fermes de l’histoire. En plus, le Conseil menace qu’au cas où les militaires ne transféreront pas sans plus tarder, le pouvoir à une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, le Conseil imposera automatiquement des mesures punitives aux personnes et entités faisant obstacle à la mise en place de l’Autorité de transition sous conduite civile. A l’ère où tout se mondialise y compris la justice et la redevabilité surtout en matière de droits de l’homme  personne ne veut prendre le risque  de faire face à ces éventualités.

Cependant, la tâche ne semble pas être si simple  dans une situation ou d’autres alliés du Soudan dans le continent et en dehors du continent  ne semblent pas aller dans la même direction que l’Union Africaine.  Il n’est donc pas étonnant de voir que dans son Communiqué, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans un langage fort a souligné, « la primauté des initiatives entreprises par les pays africains dans la recherche d’une solution durable à la crise au Soudan et a réitéré  son appel à tous les partenaires pour qu’ils soutiennent les efforts de l’UA et de l’IGAD et s’abstiennent de toute action susceptible de compromettre les initiatives entreprises par l’Afrique ».

Même si le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies n’a pas pu s’entendre sur un texte commun et la conduite à tenir, une grande partie de la communauté internationale semble être alignée sur la position de l’Union Africaine. L’Union Africaine a en effet du potentiel et un poids politique assez important à ne pas négliger pour résolution du problème soudanais et bien d’autres sur le continent.

J’ai espoir que la raison prévaudra entre les parties prenantes soudanaises.  L’Afrique que nous voulons en dépens.

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Do you know which Heads of State/Government champion your issues at the African Union?

Over the years the Assembly of the African Union has been appointing Heads of State/Government to champion/lead on key issues and initiatives on the continental agenda. The aim is to give greater awareness and to mobilize continental and global support for the implementation of those initiatives/issues. Thematic assignments have played a role in enabling the Union to tackle wide array of issues on its agenda. 

Who are those Champions?

  1. Continent’s Political Integration: Republic of Uganda: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
  2. Combating Early Marriage of Young Girls: Republic of Zambia : President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
  3. Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA): Republic of Niger: President  Mahamadou Issoufou
  4. Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investment in Youth: Republic of Chad: President  Idriss Deby Itno
  5. Domestic Health Financing: Republic of Rwanda: President  Paul Kagame
  6. Institutional Reform of the African Union: Republic of Rwanda: President Paul Kagame
  7. Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Prime Minister  Abiy Ahmed
  8. Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa: Republic of Togo: President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe
  9. Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa: People’s Republic of Algeria: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
  10. Migration: Kingdom of Morocco: King Mohamed VI
  11. Implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063: Republic of Cote D’Ivoire: President  Alassane Dramane Ouattara
  12. Gender and Development Issues in Africa: Republic of Ghana: President Nana Akufo Addo
  13. Committee of Ten (C10) on the United Nations Security Council reform: Republic of Sierra Leone: President  Julius Maada Bio
  14. Education, Science and Innovation: Republic of Senegal: President Mr. Macky Sall
  15. AUDA/NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC): Republic of Senegal: President Macky Sall
  16. Malaria: Kingdom of Eswatini: King Mswati III
  17. Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation: Federal Republic of Nigeria: President  Muhammadu Buhari
  18. Climate Change (CAHOSCC): Republic of Gabon: President Ali Bongo Ondimba
  19. Revitalization and operationalization of the African Union Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD): Arab Republic of Egypt: President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
  20. Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Burkina Faso: President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
  21. Refugees, Returnees and Internal Displaced Persons (IDP): Republic of Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
  22. High-Level Committee on Libya: Republic of Congo: President Denis Sassou Nguesso
  23. African Union- United Nations Cooperation: Republic of South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa
  24. Development of Blue Economy : Republic of Seychelles: H.E. President Danny Faure.

So far there are no standard modalities for the selection of those champions, the duration of the assignments are not clear and it is not sure if the assignment is transferable in case of change of leadership at the helm of the country. The African Union needs to clarify these. 

This list may not be exhaustive. Please drop me a line on or should you have additional information or suggestions on this.

Merci !

African Union Summit February 2019: What is on the Agenda?

The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) will be held at the headquarters of the Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as follows:

–          Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 7th – 8th February 2019

–          Assembly (Heads of State and Government): 10th – 11th February 2019

Citizens’ Pre-Summit Gatherings: The Gender is my Agenda (GIMAC) pre-summit is scheduled for the 3rd and 4th February and the    7th Citizens’ Continental Conference will be held from 4th -7th February in Addis Ababa.

As usual, I am sharing below a personal overview on what is expected to be discussed during the Summit.

Closed Summit

A decision taken in January 2017 by the Assembly of the Union stipulated that “External parties shall only be invited to AU Summits on exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by the interests on the African Union”. According to a note verbal recently circulated by the AU Commission, Addis Ababa based Representatives of non-African Union Member States and International Organizations accredited to the African Union will be allowed to attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summit.

Organizations that are involved in an approved side event in relation to the agenda of the Summit will only have access to the specific event and not to other meetings of the Summit.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Driving Seat for 2019

President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) will step down from the rotational chairmanship of the Union and President El-Sisi (Egypt) will take over for the next 12 months. As part of its chairmanship priorities, it is expected that Egypt prioritizes a revitalization of the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) framework policy in link with peace building in Africa and as part of the solutions to forced displacement in the continent.

What is on the Agenda?

au summit image

The AU theme for the year 2019: “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” will be officially launched during the Summit and a road-map of activities will be considered and eventually approved to be implemented throughout the year and beyond. Beside the main theme, the following key issues will likely dominate the Summit agenda:

–          Institutional Reform of the Union and its implementation: President Kagame will present an overview of the reform and the Chairperson of the AU Commission will report on its implementation. A report of the Commission regarding the alignment of the legal instruments will be considered as instructed by the Extraordinary Summit held in November last year.

–          State of Peace and Security in Africa and the implementation of the African Union Road-map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns by 2020.

–          Humanitarian Situation in Africa.

–          African Peer Review mechanism and the State of Governance in Africa.

–          Post-Cotonou negotiations with the European Union.

–          Free Movement in Africa: The AU Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African Passport to boost free movement on the continent.

–          Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development: Egypt is expected to table an agenda item on revitalizing and operationalizing the African Union’s policy on PCRD.

–          Migration: Morocco is expected to present a report on the establishment of the African Union Migration Observatory.

–          It is also expected that recent and ongoing developments in the continent such as the post-election situation in DRC and the raise of terrorist attacks  will make it to the Summit’s agenda.

The following draft legal instruments are scheduled to be considered and adopted:

–          Draft Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency

–          Draft Statute of the African Audio Visual and Cinema Commission

–     Draft Statutes of the African Union International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa

–          Draft African Union Transitional Justice Policy

Elections: The Summit will elect/appoint the following:

–          5 Members of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union: The following countries are candidates for the PSC: Burundi (Central),  – Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan (Eastern) –  Algeria (Northern) – Lesotho (Southern) – Nigeria (Western)

–          1 Member of the African Union Commission on International Law

–          1 Member of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

–          7 Members of the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption

About the AU theme of the Year 2019: Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” 

Africa is home for more than one-third of the world’s forcibly displaced persons, including more than 6 million refugees and asylum seekers and 14.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Forced displacement in Africa is caused mostly by conflicts, poor governance, human rights violations and environmental issues. In the framework of the long-term vision contained in the Agenda 2063, the African Union adopted the Common African Position on Humanitarian Effectiveness (CAP) and called for a ten-year period of transformation to strengthen humanitarian action on the continent. The CAP defines Africa’s new humanitarian architecture including the creation of an African Humanitarian Agency as a vehicle for Africa’s humanitarian action. The new humanitarian architecture also emphasizes addressing root causes and achieving sustainable solutions, as well as bolstering the capacity of States and other stakeholders to tackle the challenges of forced displacement on the continent.

Throughout 2019, the African Union will mark the theme of the year focusing on refugees, Internally Displaced Persons and returnees. The Union will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (OAU Refugee Convention) as well as the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the 2009 AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa ( the Kampala Convention).

The draft Road-map for 2019 to be considered by the AU Summit for approval includes among others the following activities:

–          6 regional consultative meetings of AU Member States and other stakeholders, focused on refugees, returnees, IDPs or statelessness issues, as well as cross-cutting consultative meetings to focus on issues affecting all these persons of concern.

–          An African Humanitarian Summit on Refugees, IDPs and Returnees to be held in November 2019, which will generate state commitments in a decision/declaration and pledging of requisite resources for the implementation of the CAP on Humanitarian Effectiveness in Africa.

–          A multi-year law and policy humanitarian action training.

–          Promotion of  ratification and  implementation of the AU Convention on IDPs -Kampala Convention.

While focusing on the theme of the year 2019 and the institutional reform of the Union for a greater impact is commendable, it is important for our Union to ensure that, embracing a new theme each year does not stop or slow down efforts and investments towards implementation of commitments, policies, road-maps etc, that we have adopted under the themes of previous years. For example, what have been the impacts of the AU Year of Human Rights (2016 theme) on African people’s life?  where are we with our commitments under the Road-map for Harnessing Demographic Dividend in Africa  (2017 theme)? How much have we advanced in fighting corruption in the continent (2018 theme) ? … How close are we to “silence the guns by 2020″as decided several years ago? Our Union’s Member States must regularly give account to citizens on what has been achieved at national level on those previous commitments, and, this accountability mechanism should be part of  the ongoing institutional reform of the Union. The AU Commission should be empowered to carry this on by holding Member States accountable for the implementation of adopted policies.  

It is also important to keep in mind that people of Africa aspire to a greater democracy, rule of law and the respect of all their human rights, fundamental liberties as well as good governance, which have been reaffirmed in several AU instruments and recognized as our shared values. Those values are the pathways to our 2063 and 2030 aspirations. There are no other ways. The African Union has the necessary leverage to make it happen. Let’s just do it.

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