At 20, the AU Has a Lot to Be Proud Of—and a Lot of Work to Do
Last week, 13 African heads of state and government attended the African Union’s Mid-Year Coordination Meeting, the principal forum for the AU and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, or RECs, to align their priorities and coordinate implementation of the continental integration agenda. This year’s meeting, the fourth since the format was launched in 2017 to replace a mid-year leaders’ summit, was focused on issues like the status of regional integration in Africa; the division of labor between the AU, its member states and RECs; a tripartite free trade agreement between the East African Community, The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community; an interregional knowledge-exchange platform on early warning and conflict prevention; Africa’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the impact of the Ukraine crisis on the continent.
The gathering took place in Lusaka, Zambia, which had not hosted a continental meeting since 2001. It also came a little over a week after the AU commemorated the 20th anniversary of its founding on July 9. Debates about the AU’s role in Africa’s affairs and its effectiveness at grappling with the issues facing the continent have raged over the past decade, and they have intensified in recent years amid multiple challenges to peace, security and governance across Africa.