Foresight Africa 2015: The African Union Must Step Up Its Game

In many ways, 2014 was not an easy year for Africa. The Ebola epidemic brought tragedy to parts of West Africa; the ongoing assaults from the terrorist movement Boko Haram threatened livelihoods and families across Nigeria; and falling oil prices continue to pose significant risks for the many African economies reliant on petroleum exports. Unfortunately, according to Africa Growth Initiative senior fellow Mwangi Kimenyi, effective responses to each of these challenges require something that Africa currently does not have—a well-functioning and dynamic African Union (AU). In a new brief for Brookings Foresight Africa series, Kimenyi argues that over the past several years, the AU has “failed to lead or even function as a relevant party” in many of the most pressing challenges the region faces.

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Addressing deficiencies at the African Union should be a key priority for the region over the next 12 months and will be particularly timely given that the AU Assembly of Heads of State will select a new chairperson in 2015.

Kimenyi identifies four priorities for improvement of the AU: financing, leadership, strengthening the African Union Commission, and focusing on grassroots representation. With reform in each of these areas, Kimenyi believes that the AU could assume the high responsibility of “coordinating continent-wide development efforts and serving as the voice of Africans in matters of global governance.”

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Foresight Africa 2015

, which details the top priorities for Africa in the coming year, to learn more about the African Union as well as other critical issues for the region.