9 days into February 2020, the African Union Heads of State Assembly began. It was the last of the many activities that made up the African Union Summit 2020 whose activities started on the 21st of January. When the Summit is held : It has 3 key events.
The Assembly of the Heads of State and Government is the last. But the whole week has very many side events and meetings hosted by the Departments, AU organs or partners.
The outcomes and deliberations of the PRC form the Agenda of the EC which in turn forms the Agenda of the Heads of State and governments meeting. 2020 is the first year to implement some of the reforms as suggested by HE Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
One of the reforms is to have only one Heads of State meeting a year and not 2 as in the past. The would be second meeting was dubbed ‘a planning meeting’ and that’s between the AUC, Regional Economic Communities and all AU Organs. The Reforms also suggested the merging of AUC and NEPAD, where the latter becomes the African Union Development Agency. All reforms (and they are many) if implemented will lead to a more sustainable and financially Indepedent African Union that is not dependent on Aid/partner support.
Every year has a theme that is agreed on and adopted the year before. This years theme is Silencing the Guns : Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development. This is a very important conversation because in my opinion it touches on all of us. We have all in one way or the other as Africans been affected by conflict .
The faces of conflict in Africa have changed continue to change. Terrorism, Election related violence being the ‘new comers’ to the conflict that plagued the continent a decade ago.
The areas of Somalia, Mozambique, Sahel region, South Sudan, Sudan and are facing evolving levels of conflict. And as a result they got mentioned by the many leaders that took to the podium to tall about what Silencing of Guns means for the continent.
Silencing the guns is a project started in 2016 as one of the flagship projects for Agenda2063. Its consultations however started in 2014. When it started, it was led by a document dubbed Lusaka Master RoadMap 2016. Silencing The Guns is also captured in 4th aspiration of Agenda 2063, which is the African Union’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next five decades.
Agenda 2063 highlights the need for dialogue-centered conflict prevention, as well as the management and resolution of existing conflicts, with a view to silencing the guns in our Continent by the Year 2020.
Part of the work being done this year is to take stock of what has become of Conflict in Africa. Is it possible for us to silence guns totally? Questions whose answers I am not sure we will find.
Civilians, including rebel groups and militias, hold more than 40 million small arms and light weapons, while government-related entities hold fewer than 11 million, according to the 2019 SAS and African Union study, Weapons Compass: Mapping Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa.
Africas expenditure expenditure in 2018, stood at around $40.2 billion. North Africa had the highest spending at $22.2 billion, followed by sub-Saharan Africa using arms worth $18.8 billion. We are spending huge on military and defence than we are on vaccines and education. So many questions. The same countries ‘policing’ our democracy – are the same ones that sell us the arms, and in large numbers.
Silencing guns in Africa means Peace, Development, prosperity, (Cliche words I know). It means that we are thriving as a people. That we have matured enough to think of the future and the people we represent and less about ourselves. It means that we are thinking of the future – and bequeathing to our little ones – a world where they can achieve anything and everything. Because above all other challenges that Africa faces – Conflict and wars are top on the list.
As quoted by HE Rwampahosa as he made his address to the Assembly as the Chair for the year 2020 : the work needs to be done by us.
Let our swords be beaten to ploughshares, and our spears turned into pruning hooks.
I see the journey to the Africa we Want as a marathon. The race is on going, but we still have a long way to go. Africa needs to figure out what works for it and what doesn’t. And like everyone else on this planet – pursue the things that make it shine and thrive, that make it happy.