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Tuesday, 17 July, 2001, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
African Union: Can it work?

African heads of state open a summit on Monday to launch a new pan-African bloc to spearhead Africa's economic development and integration.

The new pan-African body, the African Union, came into existence last month, replacing the Organisation for African Unity.

The proposals for the new Union are loosely modelled on the European Union and include ideas for a shared parliament, central bank and more trade among its members.

But the continent faces challenges from conflict and wide economic disparities between countries.

Can a shared vision work for Africa? Are these plans achievable, or are they over-ambitious?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

For African Union to succeed, there has to be increase of democracy and participation of ordinary citizens in the affairs and governance of the continent. Without this, all the regional bodies (and we have had many) simply turn in to private clubs of the ruling elites. Furthermore, these elites, because they don't get their mandate from the African people, collude with multinational companies to rip off Africa with impunity. It is hard for the same people to be serious with an African Union without input from ordinary citizens who suffer daily in the continent.
Walter Awinda, Kisumu, Kenya

Don't be surprised if the West does its best to keep you disunited

Francisco Javier Bernal EstÚvez, England
Africa, your time has come. They'll be afraid of you. Don't be surprised if the West does its best to keep you disunited. My African brother, my heart is with yours. An Andalusian friend.
Francisco Javier Bernal EstÚvez, England

It's not a luxury but a simple necessity. Africa does not have any other choice than UNITY. Let Africans focus on our similaritues and forget that which divide us.
M Mobaco Touba-Ka Baro, USA

To me, as an African, just the "realisation" by the leaders in Africa that WE need "something" more than the OAU is something to smile about!
J Mulenga, Zambia

Work? When it's modelled on the EU? Don't make me laugh!
Alex, UK

Most Africans still define themselves tribally: this is the most potent source of identity in Africa. What needs to happen first is for them to gain a sense of national identity. The idea of a union of African states will in effect simply be a collection of thousands of tribes competing for ever-diminishing resources. What Africa needs to do is to redefine its boundaries in terms of pre-colonial identities so that regions can consist of people who wish to work together rather than against one another for tribal benefit. Only then can Africa ever develop. African states per se are a western superimposition onto the continent. For this reason the new body cannot work: it is way before its time.
Richard, South Africa/UK

It is just as conceivable for the African Union to work as it is for the European Union to work

Lee Han Guk, USA
It is just as conceivable for the African Union to work as it is for the European Union to work. It has no need to exploit foreign, weaker cultures or to meddle in the affairs of other nations like the West. Its only challenge would be to control its own resources and to withstand the negative propaganda and military intrigue of the West.
Lee Han Guk, USA

I would love to see a strong African continent, and see my fellow Africans take their rightful place within the international community! I would love it if our continent could be economically strong, able to provide the livelihoods and opportunities that its peoples deserve. But I think that an African Union is just too much too soon. Many governments are stretched just trying to keep control over all parts of their countries. I have no doubt that one day we will have an African Union, but maybe we should start by creating regional states and see how they go.
Morne, South Africa

Will a united Africa really work? Of course it will. It will just take a long, long time, that's all. Help (not just financial) from the European Union and the various European commonwealths could speed up the change and let's face it, Africa deserves it after all those years of colonialism.
James Pittman, England

No political organisation can succeed without the support of the people

Maureen Harwood, South Africa
If an African Union has specific goals - at first economic like the old European Union - with the aim of improving the living conditions and opportunities of its people, it will have a chance to succeed because it will have their support. Again like the European Union, if the primary goal is political union, it is doomed to failure. Ultimately no political organisation can succeed without the support of the people.
Maureen Harwood, South Africa

Regretfully, this will never come to fruition. Africa, which still bears the devastating effects of colonialism, ethnic and religious wars, famines, droughts, and so on, is just too vast, too poor, and too chaotic to ever unite as one.
Abu Abbaswelli, Niger

We live in an era when many of our African leaders plunder our national resources for private benefit, exacerbating the myriad political and economic problems in the domestic sphere. One can't help thinking that a new, stronger "Old Boys" club will serve as potent catalyst for continued under-development. Or is it really different this time around?
Eddie, Kenya

There's no doubt, African Union will work

Tetsopgang, Cameroon
We should support African Union. African intellectuals, you like to talk very much without practice. You should understand that any African can change the face of the continent. Think to go home and fight for democracy as Nelson Mandela and others did in South Africa. There's no doubt, African Union will work. The single example is what they said about land issue in Zimbabwe. It's a good example to tackle African problem.
Tetsopgang, Cameroon

This is indeed the best news coming out of Africa since the independence of African countries. I know that it will be a difficult task for the new president, but let's remember nothing is easy. It took years of conflicts and bloodshed for the United States of America to be one. I know that there are a lot of sceptics out there, but it is all right. In the end Africa will triumph.
Abdoul A. Konare, Michigan, USA

My country is ravished by civil war, like many other countries in Africa. How can we even talk of this concept when we are killing each other? I could visualise several countries forming unions (French speaking nations or even like-minded religious countries), but never the whole of Africa.
John Paul Magoosa, Sudan

Let all the residents of Africa focus on their many similarities

Umbisa Kendeli-Gusa, U.S.A.
The time has come for the people who inhabit the entire continent of Africa to work together. For over 1,000 years Africa has allowed itself to be divided mentally, ideologically and genetically. Shame on all the residents of Africa to emulate the chameleon that changes its colours according to its immediate environment. Shame on Africa for spending its mental and financial energies acting like chameleons. After all Africa is the only continent on our beautiful planet earth that is regressing; actually all African countries (with a few exceptions) are not even developing countries but regressing ones. Let all the residents of Africa focus on their many similarities and together they will overcome this shame of 1,000 years of being chameleons. Long live the new African Union. Long live Africa.
Umbisa Kendeli-Gusa, U.S.A.

If there was success with the OAU then the AU will work but the beating heart of Africa is not the people living in it but the abundance of resources in it, as it has been the problem until now.
Juma Kidishi, Tanzania

The survival of the African Union depends significantly on the good will of all

Samuel Mulbah Sondah, USA
The African Union has a great potential in light of its stated objectives and goals. However, the realisation of what the Union hopes to achieve depends primarily on the political will of member countries of the African Union. Given the present situation on the continent of Africa where most of the countries are at war with each other, it is difficult if not impossible to make significant impact. Though it may be the brainchild of the Libyan Leader, it requires the support of all countries. But I am afraid that they all do not have the financial resources to finance this new undertaking. Therefore, the survival of the African Union depends significantly on the good will of all and sundry.
Samuel Mulbah Sondah, United States of America

They were rather talk about ways and means to tackle poverty,diseases,conflicts throughout of the continent than continental parliament, central bank and common currency which seems as lofty dream at the present.
Mohamed Ali Mohamed, Canada

The idea of an a.u is good. I pray that all the stake holders will do all they can to make it work because for along time now Africa stood by the edges watching the world cruise on and allowed western nations to fuel wars. God help Africa.
Bunga Nyirenda, Zambia

The goals of the African union are noble

Garth, Zimbabwe
The goals of the African union are noble. However, the immediate benefit will be to bring rationality and harmony between the diverse countries in Africa. Right now, African leaders must complete the task of eliminating the remaining conflicts in Africa and lay a firm foundation on which democracy can be built.
Garth, Zimbabwe

Don't we already have the Commonwealth. Perhaps have an African sub-committee which non-Commonwealth countries can join. Modelling the proposed organisation on the EU seems like putting Fagin in charge of an orphanage
Simon Mallett, UK

The realities of the global economy makes the idea of an African union most imperative and timely. The only worry is that Africa is not ready to pay the price for such an institution. It requires a lot of hard work and, to my mind, our leaders will have none of that. Perhaps they are misled in their imagination that the EU with all its structures emerged overnight.
Pato, Belgium

African Union? I laugh? Except there wouldn't be any French-speaking countries in the union. Because any discussions will first be reported to France and if France does not approve they will definitely not be put in action.
Kwene Marthar, Limbe-Cameroon

The idea of a pan-African union is idealistic

James Castro, USA
The idea of a pan-African union is idealistic, but it has little chance of success. Africa is an arbitrary geographic unit, not a natural cultural or economic one. The Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa have more in common culturally and economically with Southwest Asia than they do with their southern neighbours. The peoples of sub-Saharan West Africa have a lot of common interests, as do the peoples of East and South Africa, if tribal barriers can be overcome. But forcing all of these nations into a procrustean bed will not help them much and will harm many of them.
James Castro, USA

I would like to wish the new African union the very best and to assure them they will be in my prayers. I love Africa and I long for the day when she can start to grow in strength both economically and politically. I also firmly believe that regional trading blocks are the only way poorer countries can protect themselves from the ravages of world trade which only serves to make rich nations richer
Robin Hassall, UK

The OAU was born of euphoria. The AU, it appears, is the child of hysteria: leaders panicking at the sight of what their neglect, wastefulness and bickering have wrought while the world moved on. Yet, cloistered as they are in the tradition of pomp and appearance, trapped in their theatrical habits, they will not listen to the common man's voice.
Felani Manu, Kenya

The ideas are normally good for the majority of proposals made for the African nations, but personalisation affects the implementation, hence failure and conflicts.
MZ, Zambia

Efforts should rather be directed at finding answers to why OAU failed

Kwadjo Asante-Danso, Australia
Renaming OUA African Union is not the smartest thing to do. Efforts should rather be directed at finding answers to why OAU failed. Unity is necessary for the development of Africa but charity begins at home - they say. Let us get our individual homes (countries) in order first, because the senseless wars that are ravaging the continent are an impediment to the success of any organisation no matter how we name it.
Kwadjo Asante-Danso, Australia

This question poses a real dilemma. Of course, changing the name of an organisation can do little to change what it does. However, the new name really does have a certain ring to it: the African Union. Although there can be no real African unity until democracy is brought to the continent, this may be the first step in a long journey towards cooperation, justice, and freedom.
Jonathan Specht, US

I think independence comes first before the union. Africa is not yet independent from indirect colonialism. Most of its leaders dictate to their nation under the commands and guidance of colonialists - be it in the form of inciting wars among neighbours, arms supply etc. It seems that Europe does not exist today because we start talking about uniting Africa.
Mengistu Lemma, Ethiopia, USA

The time has come to take pride in our heritage as Africans

Liezil Allchin, South Africa
It seems so easy to criticise our African leaders in their quest to unite Africans under one pan-African idea. The only reason for the initiative is to rid the continent of the many woes that have their roots in the colonial era. At the moment we all call ourselves Africans but unite under different flags. The time has come to take pride in our heritage as Africans, and join to achieve one nation and get rid of the geographic mosaic of the colonial era. I congratulate our leaders for the initiative that will over-ride the notion that Africa will always be the underdog.
Liezil Allchin, South Africa

Pan-Africanism should be encouraged. However, it would be foolish to force a superstructure on an area of the world that is already having difficulty in dealing with the original, indiscriminate drawing of their borders. When African unity occurs it must be because the Africans want it, not because they are forced into it by external pressures.
Keith, Denver, USA

Many African countries are in the thrall of civil unrest - civil war etc. Until these internal conflicts can be resolved "to general satisfaction" I cannot see how an African Union can properly even be considered!
Mike, England

If it works it would be incredible for Africa. Africa has huge quantities of minerals and precious metals and also the labour force to harvest this. If they see that working co-operatively with each other brings better results than fighting then it could be a major step forward for them. I now that there's a long way until Africa settles a lot of the major problems that it has, however on the positive side this might be the first step. After all a few centuries ago England and France were constantly at war and now we are allied within the EU.
Ross, UK

Learn from past mistakes rather than dwell on them

Waweru, Kenya
It is disappointing to read from my fellow Africans who seem to have an inherent belief that anything African will fail! This is Afro-pessimists promoted assiduously by a group of African intellectuals and elites whose world-view is shaped by years of Western indoctrination. There's no doubt that OAU had its failures and successes and history will judge accordingly. We must give credit to those who initiated AU in the realisation that OAU as constituted had ran its course. It had been overtaken by changes in the world from globalisation to end of Cold War.

Some like to cite that Africa is embroiled in wars, ethnic tensions, have serious diseases to contend with, that poverty is rampant and that leaders are dictators or crooks. Well some of those charges are true but most imagined, but that's hardly the main point. The main point is that we should always strive to promote African institutions and learn from past mistakes rather than dwell on them.
Waweru, Kenya

The whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. If individual states cannot get their act together, then the whole African Union will just be another OAU. Supporting Mugabe and his reign of terror instead of facilitating democracy in Zimbabwe is hardly the way to start and will just reinforce the outside view of Africa as lawless, corrupt and poverty-stricken.
Stephen, South Africa

As the saying goes "Show me your friend, and I will tell you who you are" or "birds of a feather flock together"/ African Union, the brainchild of Ghadafi of all people? Has he got a moral base to start an organization worth writing home about? What role had he played, negative or positive in other African countries? The leaders supporting Mugabe for killing people and taking the law into his hands? I am sick and tired of these our spineless leaders who haven't the guts to challenge pariah nations. Leaders lead by examples.
Henry Williams, New York/Sierra Leone

African Union is the brainchild of Ghadafi who at one time made a futile attempt to unite Arabs. When Arabs refused to rally behind him he reincarnated as an African statesman. With such origins the African Union is doomed to fail just like OAU.
Twala, Kenya

The move is very timely and the goals set forth are achievable. The thorniest issue in African affairs is sovereignty. The present attempt does not try to draw new boundaries. It focuses on economic integration which begins with a common currency, and a common central bank. A common assembly will, I believe rise above the whims of individual dictators, and enact and put in place statutes that could see better economic management of African resources. All one can hope for is that a few good men and women could be found to spearhead what I see as an Herculean task of repairing several years of abuse to a continent that has survived by an act of divine ordination.
Che S, Cameroon/USA

It is good to have ideals of an African Union(AU). With modern changes on the international scene and colonialism being defeated in Africa there was need to re-define the objectives of OAU and hence the AU. But unless the leaders stop the rhetoric and embark on pragmatic solutions for alleviating poverty, there are slim chances of the AU standing the test of time. The first step for AU should be establish not only monitoring body for democracy but a continental body responsible for elections so that we can have unified standards of democracy on the continent before we can talk of a continental bank and many other things. With democracy enhanced then economic and social harmonisation will be easily acceptable
John Banalya, Ugandan in Australia

It is like building castles in the air, these gentlemen's wishes will never come to pass; because almost every African President does not trust each other! Trust is the key issue to the unity which they seem to be forging.
Solomon Mugoya, USA

What a pessimistic bunch we who are far from home have become. I'd rather we give suggestions on how to make it work, rather than condemn it before it even sees the light of day. A little positive attitude here folks. Come on! We all have to make it work, because Africa counts on each one of us to make her better.
Epie Ajebe, USA

Civilisation grows from two things. A stable food supply and a health care system. When the people have those then they will build for themselves without "grand plans". To imitate Brussels with its democratic deficit is not a course of action with many advantages.
Dick Henry, UK

Let's focus on the really important things first, like promoting freedom, democracy, justice, reducing the impact of famine and disease, etc. before pondering some fanciful socialist vision of an African version of the European Union. Beginning to create a African Union now will do nothing but give more jobs to wasteful bureaucrats. Until Africa possesses all the aforementioned things and if Africa indeed possesses freedom, democracy, etc. someday, it wouldn't "need" an African Union in the first place!
Stephen, USA

Given that most African leaders have contributed heavily to the impoverishment of the continent, we might be inclined to downplay the African Union. However, it is a major turning point in the history of Africa. Leaders who are backing this initiative deserve much praise. The African Union has a huge potential in that people and goods could move freely across current borders, conflicts between and within countries would be pointless as they would all belong to one bigger block, resources could be assembled towards large projects such as major highways, a communication satellite, professional soccer leagues etc. In practice, the African Union might succeed if the populations embrace the concept, demand accountability, resist corruption and ethnic discrimination, or it might fail if they just stand back and watch. The key to the African Renaissance belong to the population, it does not belong to the leaders.
Alice R., African Union

Another European concept imposed on Africa? This doesn't bode well.
Stephen, US

Is this another "feel good" idea? What strategies are being discussed to tackle the serious issues that face the continent e.g. lack of accountability in the leadership, HIV/Aids, etc. What are the timelines? How will we hold this organization accountable?
Noni Gikonyo, USA

The African Union like the OAU will remain a myth so long as Africans fail to come to their senses and to learn to co-exist in very fragmented and enormously diverse socio-ethnic religious communities.
John Ekaju, Uganda

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the African Union are two faces of the same coin.
Eskinder, Ethiopia

The leaders and the other stakeholders must rather think about how to make things happen to the benefit of every African

Kwabena Otuo-Acheampong, Ghana
The leaders and the other stakeholders must rather think about how to make things happen to the benefit of every African. I have come to know that most African leaders are lacking implementation skills, just because they came to power through the back door.
Kwabena Otuo-Acheampong, Ghana

I don't think the so-called African Union goes much beyond being a club of rich and corrupt African leaders. I don't think it will go beyond giving Africa's leaders the opportunity to hold lavish and expensive conferences and shower luxurious vehicles upon themselves. The African Union will not make an iota of difference to the poor African ravaged by poverty, war and disease. It is not going to build schools for the poor African's children, nor provide hospitals for him to take them to when they fall ill.

My own view is that as long as democracy and accountability remain weak in Africa, so-called region groupings will remain nothing more than talking shops through which government officials can pilfer hefty allowances.
Jupiter Punungwe, Zimbabwe

History has shown us over and over that European models do not work in Africa

Njoki Mbogo, USA
History has shown us over and over that European models do not work in Africa. We need to model our structures by looking at what works for us the best. Why should we always model ourselves, our structures, governments, societies and cultures after Europeans?
Njoki Mbogo, USA

Isn't this all very typical of the "leaders" of my continent: Simply rename a pathetic and purposeless institution, and this equals economic development. Just what have these criminal gangs done in their respective countries to alleviate the untold suffering they have inflicted upon our helpless people?
UE, UK/Nigeria

While subscribing to the maxim that "two heads are better than one", I still retain a strong view that the "heads" must be clean. The proposed social, political and economic integration of African states could be a positive step towards achieving a self-contained region. However, as long as the evils of corruption, power hunger, violence and other vices continue to bedevil many an African state, the African Union will remain a pure theoretical concept.
Joojo Namuunda, Zambian in UK

Maybe I am just being hopeful, but Africa needs some extraordinary things to happen. Until someone comes up with a better idea, I strongly believe all African should give this endeavour their full support.
Geo, USA

Each country should first be swept clean before talking about an African Union

Nomsa, South Africa
Each country should first be swept clean before talking about an African Union. If these African leaders could meet to discuss ways of eradicating authoritarian and dictatorial rule, they would be doing themselves a lot good. But to meet and talk about African unity at this stage, to me, they are just enjoying a jolly ride to the host country of conferences, wasting the already fragile resources that Africa has.
Nomsa, South Africa

If we try to dissect every element of this effort, we won't have the opportunity to see if it will work for us as Africans. Even the US has had its failures but that did not stop it from progressing and trying other ways. For over 38 years it was the same old system with no real accomplishments. For God's sake let's gave them a try. No criticism!
Jimmy Reed, USA

What does the African Union hope to achieve that the OAU failed to do? The OAU has failed as an organisation and should have been dismantled years ago. Just look at the suffering of all the African people and countries. Coups, famine, starvation etc - the list is endless! What has the OAU done for them? Nothing. I wish the AU all the very best, although I can't really see it achieving anything!
James Anoom, England

How long did it take the EU? EU members are democratic countries and the people put their country's interest before their own personal interests. Do you think most African leaders will do the same? As many people have commented, the best way for Africa is to be fully democratised. There should be a parliament genuinely elected by the people. Presidents or PMs should only serve for a limited period. We have a lot to learn from developed democratic countries.
Taeme Gebre Egzaibher, Eritrean, US citizen

We Africans should stop dreaming and start to work together as one nation. As we all know, our continent is on the verge of devastation. We have no time to debate the Union, it is the only way forward and we need to get it started. I think the leaders in Africa finally came to their senses when they endorsed it. We should all stop the negation and help them build our nation.
Shakur Geressu, USA

It appears good in theory but it is hard to implement practically

Umuofia Kwenu, Canada
It appears good in theory but it is hard to implement practically because of political and economic differences from Cape Town to Cairo. However, it doesn't hurt to come up with something to keep those OAU bureaucrats in Addis Ababa in jobs. Probably, Nelson Mandela can rise to the occasion and be an honorary leader of Africa and challenge repressive regimes to reform their political views and steer Africa to sanity.
Umuofia Kwenu, Canada

This 'unity' is a mere foolishness. Our so-called 'leaders' ought to bring unity in their own countries first before trying to install it in the rest of the troubled continent. They should begin from their own homes by bringing in democratic changes and solving their internal tribal conflicts and power struggles. It would only be a repetition of past mistakes to try to unite Africa without a major overhaul of current dictatorships in almost all of the member countries.
Ibrahim Abubeker, Sweden

It is disappointing to read a majority of e-mails from Africans in the Diaspora with negative impressions about the newly coined African Union. Let us give Salim Ahmed Salim and progressive Africans a chance to embark on this new development - it might end being more successful than some of us think!
Hope, Canada

If all African nations were democratic, then the union would have made sense

Fikre Bizuneh, Ethiopia
If all African nations were democratic, then the union would have made sense. But as long as dictatorship and lawlessness are present in the African political arena, the UNION will just be a five-letter word with no real meaning.
Fikre Bizuneh, Ethiopia

One day in the mid seventies in Uganda, Amin decreed that the Uganda shilling should now be called the Uganda dollar. He thought that calling it a dollar would boost its value. Do you get the message?
Charles K. N., USA

The whole idea of the Pan-African Movement of the creation of an African Union brings the dream of a common African currency, foreign policy, defence structure and economic programme closer to reality and is superb. But we must remember that people like Yoweri Kaguta Museveni are hypocrites, and he can do anything to materialise his every wish of selfishness so that he can get credit from his masters.
Poul, Tanzanian, in the United States

Whatever name, be it OAU, African Union, United states of Africa or united in hunger, underdevelopment and disease cannot change the reality of our situation. Our real problems are: corruption, hunger and disease, underdevelopment, wars and rebellions, lack of education, lack of commitment, selfishness and greediness etc.

I am personally not against changing the name but will that help Africans leaders from overstaying their time in office, or will it prevent them from enriching their pockets at the expense of the poor masses?
Peter Emusa, Canada

A good idea that is guaranteed to go bad

Joe Woyee, USA
One only has to look at the current situation in Africa today to know that the idea of an African Union is a dream meant only to appeal to the kind of poor, clueless leadership that the continent has been left with since the deaths of the Nkrumah and Lumumba. How can you have an African Union with one currency and one defence force, when the continent has not been able, over 38 years of independence, to have regional trade and social integration and co-operation? In East Africa, for example, a person from Tanzania has to have a passport or visitor's pass to visit Kenya or Uganda.

What Africa needs right now, instead of this idea, whose time has certainly not come, is stable regional co-operation and new leaders who can see beyond their own bank accounts and look towards the dreams and hopes of their pitiful peoples. Maybe then, the talk of an African Union will be in order. Until regional co-operation and integration is achieved, the idea of a union will be, just like everything else in Africa, a good idea that is guaranteed to go bad.
Joe Woyee, USA

I think the union should be called African Robbers Union - robbing from the poor to feed the corrupt few tin pot dictators who are killing the African dream. In fact this union is a proxy for the so called free democratic society who has turned a blind eye to the sufferings of the ordinary Africans who have been put into the Dark Ages by their so-called leaders.
Mr W, ex-Zambia/UK

I would like to believe that it will work better than the OAU. We should not also forget that, without real change within member countries such as democratic reform, peace, justice, and freedom of expression, it will be very difficult to see any change to come to the new African Union. What they have done is simply change the name from OAU to African Union. Additionally, the people who did this are people who have been in power for over ten and twenty years. Some of those leaders are Mugabe, Moi, Ghadaff and Mubarak. African leader must work harder in their countries to bring change for their people.

We do not need an African union to be united

Lilian Kimeto, Kenya
The African Union is actually a new name for OAU. I'm not a pessimist but what does the African Union have that will make it perform better than the OAU? In any case, OAU has been a toothless dog and giving it a new name will not make it any strong.
The challenges facing the continent will not be solved by replacing OAU with the African Union but creating a forum where the problems affecting Africa are discussed and addressed. We do not need an African union to be united.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

The change of OAU to AU makes no difference to me as long as the executive remains the same. I have to wait and see what the same people will do in a different name. It is like the same king wearing a different royal garment.
Prisonier Enoka, Cameroonian in the UK

I wish Africa would integrate as the EU has done. However, I abhor to say this, I don't think so... because the most African leaders shouldn't qualify to lead the country. Their qualification is promoting animosity and anguish to the their own people.
Taha Roba, Canada

To change a name of the same organisation does not constitute its ability to work better

Onnoh, F, USA
To change a name of the same organisation does not constitute its ability to work better. Whether it is OAU or AU, African leaders need to follow through what they say or promise to the people.
Onnoh, F, USA

OAU was a well intended creation of its patriotic founding fathers but was dogged by the Western induced conflicts, poverty and disease now ravaging the African landscape.
Magnus Amajirionwu, Nigeria

Is there a single African leader who cares for his people? Look at them all. They dwell in the past by blaming colonisation for evils in Africa. The white evils have passed away, it is black evil that is tearing apart the peoples of Africa.
Frus Trated,

The African Union is not a bad idea, but, like its predecessor, it will certainly fail. Until we rid ourselves of tribalism, social injustice; until our corrupt leaders stop being stooges of their powerful masters, this is just another venture into futility. Khadaffi, of all people, who pushed so hard for this Union is a classic example of why this creation is doomed for failure. The man has held onto power for over thirty years crushing all forms of dissent giving credence to the fact that once in power, African Leaders cling on forever.
Seyneh Zoluseh, Liberia

It would be foolhardy for any forward-thinking individual to assume that a mere name change will transform a flagging organisation such as the OAU. Any sober person will tell you that OAU needs a fundamental change rather than what seems to be cosmetic makeover. Lets be realistic: exactly what will the AU accomplish that OAU couldn't in three decades? This, in my humble opinion, is an insult to Africa's collective intellect.
Tonny Onutsani, USA

I don't see much change here -- the African Union is just a new name the "toothless" Organisation of African Unity (OAU).
Nathan Y. Mkamanga, Malawian in the United States

Future entrants should be judged on their governmental and macro-economic policies

Sascha, USA
If the African Union is to be truly successful, it cannot be a pan-African union, at least in the beginning, and certainly not one backed by Colonel Gaddafi! The success stories of Africa - Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa - should join immediately. Future entrants should be judged on their governmental and macro-economic policies. Let the union be a reward for a country that has decided to join the democratic family of nations. Wealth and societal improvement will surely follow. And the effect may just be contagious.
Sascha, USA

This is no different from the formation of the EU from a bunch of countries with "conflict and wide economic disparities between countries". Can it work? It does not work properly for Europe, so why should it work for Africa?
Keith, UK

I think the idea is very sound

Keith, Switzerland
I think the idea is very sound. The problem with Africa, in general, is that many of the countries are invariably unstable, going from one dictator to another, each more or less brutal than the last. But more than that they are driven by personal wealth of the few rather than a desire to improve the country and the lot of the greater population in it. This is not true of all African countries but it is true of a lot of them. Until the leaders of these countries actually want sustained economic development instead of short term financial game for themselves then it will never work! It's sad but I can't see it changing for some time to come.
Keith, Switzerland

This merely demonstrates the extent to which these criminal gangs who call themselves "African leaders" are prepared to go in order to avoid the responsibility of alleviating the untold suffering they have each inflicted so needlessly upon our helpless people. Surely, one does not have to be blessed with the wisdom of King Solomon to realise that to have a central bank, for example, a country needs an economy. Apart from just one or two exceptions, which of these countries has anything close to one? Or perhaps it is the various "central banks" that these individuals own in Switzerland that will become the African central bank. Regrettably, only one thing is certain about these crooks: you can always trust them to be on the opposite side of common sense.
UE, Nigeria/ UK

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See also:

09 Jul 01 | Africa
From Unity to Union
25 May 01 | Africa
The future of African unity
11 Jul 00 | Africa
United States of Africa?
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