THE ROAD TO AFRICAN UNION: RETROSPECT AND PROSPECT

Abstract

The thesis “the Road to African Union” evaluates earlier and current attempts made to unify the States of Africa.
The evaluation covers a period of almost one-century, from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 21st century.
The main objective of the research is to identify whether there were (are requisite conditions fro unification, such as compatibility of political values, greater economic and social transaction, peace and security and positive external environment in Africa.
The thesis concludes that those requisite conditions for unification have not been sufficiently available in Africa despite some changes occurred after the demise of the Cold War in the 1990s.
The paper also tries to evaluate the achievements and failures of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
It argues that the achievements of the OAU, in the political, economic and social dimensions were low.
Finally, the paper attempts to show the structure, objective and functions of the new African Union, and tries to compare and contrast the Union with the defunct OAU.

Introduction

Africa is a mosaic of peoples, cultures, ecological settings and history. The continent has an area of 11,677,240 square miles (30,244,050 square Kilometers), stretching from the Mediterranean in the north to the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian oceans in the south (Chazan 1999: 5). It has the highest arable land per capita in the world; its landmass of 2.1 million hectars with 32% of forest and woodland and 6.2% arable land is twice its share of world population (Mosha 1981) Africa has a population of some 730 million (roughly 10 percent of the world’s population) who speak more than eight hundred languages. Seventy percent of the population lives in the rural areas who earn their living either through farming or animal rearing (Chazan 1999: 5). Africa is also rich in minerals and other resources. It has one quarter of the world’s hydroelectric power and only 3% is presently utilized. The continent contains the largest reserves of metallic ores (top producer of cobalt and nickel), non-ferrous base metals (top producer of copper, lead and zinc); precious metals (top producer of gold and diamond) and non-metallic deposits (a leading producer of phosphates) (Mosha 1998).

Africa’s international contact in the 16th century and afterwards, was to its disadvantage. European merchants shipped millions of Africans, to work on their plantations in the Americas. In the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, more than 30 million Africans were transported to America from 1500 to 1890, leaving the continent with out young cultivators.