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The achievements and problems of the African Union

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New Image for Africa
The African Union has become the voice of the African continent on the global level. Many times, the United Nations and the European Union just decide to follow the position of the African Union on African problems.

Improved relations with the industrialized world
Through New Partnership for African Development, the African Union has been able to create a better relationship between the world’s industrialized nations and Africa.

Continental Peace
The African Union has achieved a certain level of peace and security on the African continent. For example a 7000-man African Union peacekeeping force was formed and sent into Darfur to maintain peace. The African Union also successfully mediated in the conflict that erupted in Cote d'Ivoire and that country is now enjoying relative peace.

Ensuring credible elections
The African Union has been monitoring elections in various parts of the continent. This has helped to ensure credible elections and the installation of legitimate governments in many member states. For example, in Madagascar, the AU refused to recognize Marc Ravalomanana in a disputed presidential election in that country. This was because Didier Ratsiraka, the former president had also claimed that had also won that every election. The A.U. called for a fresh election which eventually led to the victory of Marc Ravalomanana.

Gender balance
The African Union elected a woman as the first President of the African Union’s parliament. This is seen as recognition of the need for gender balance in appointments within the African Union.

The welfare of African Children
The African Union has done a lot to protect the rights and welfare of Africa children. It has instituted the Day of the African Child to project the rights and interests of children. This Day of the African Child is held every 21st June. The Union has been sponsoring programmes for school children in selected member states.

Reduction in military intervention
Hitherto, there had been military adventures on the African continent, disrupting the march of the continent toward democracy. The African Union has been able to dampen the resort to military coups on the continent, bringing a measure of stability onto the political scene. The Constitutive Act of the AU frowns upon coups.

Establishment of AU institutions
The AU has successfully established its constitutional organs such as the African Union Parliament African and the African Court of Justice.

Financial Problems
One of the main problems of the African Union is the inadequacy of financial resources to prosecute its objectives. The member states find it difficult to pay their membership dues regularly. This is a spillover from the days of the Organization of African Unity. By the time the A.U. was establishing, member states owed the former organization owed US$50m in unpaid dues by member states. This financial problem slows down the union’s activities.

The HIV/AIDS menace
In 2003 alone, 79% of those who died of AIDS were Africans, in addition to half a million children were infected with the HIV virus. This has been a great threat to the survival of the continent.

Another problem of the African Union is abject poverty. Out of the 49 least-developed countries of the world, Africa is home to 34 of them. This constitutes about 70% of the least developed countries and they are members of the AU.

Other groupings
The African continent has other separate groups within the African Union. Some of these groupings include the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, WAEMU, SADCC, etc. These regional groupings compete for loyalty with the African Union and the duplication of their objectives is a contribution to the wastage of resources.

Prevalence of dictators
Some member states of the African Union continues to be run by dictators and pseudo-democrats. This is in spite of the fact that they still promote pan-African democracy in member states.  Of the 54 member states of the African Union, only 16 were considered truly democratic and only eight of the countries had free media.

1. a. Describe the formation of the African Union?
    b. Highlight five achievements of the African Union. 

2. a. What are the achievements of the African Union?
    b. What four problems are faced by the African Union?

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