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Pan-Africanists Brainstorm On The United States Of Africa 

By Mwalimu George Ngwane, Dakar-Senegal

More than 300 pan-Africanists and scholars from Africa and the Diaspora have been converging on Hotel Le Meridien President in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss modalities and timeframes towards the creation of a United States of Africa. They also discussed the role of Africa in Global Governance.

The meeting was convened by the Senegalese government through her Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar. The one-week symposium, which began Monday, July 27, is expected to revisit the question of federalism in Africa, and explain the concept, the meaning, the form and mode of the organisation at the constitutional, political, economic, cultural and social levels, in light of experiences in Africa and the rest of the world.

Opening the symposium, on Monday, July 27, the Senegalese Head of State, Barrister Abdoulaye Wade, called on participants to make feasible proposals that would lead to the proclamation of the United States of Africa between 2010 and 2017.  He challenged academics and the civil society to break from the confines of their ivory towers and impact on the development of Africa. Earlier, the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Dr Jean Ping, cautioned that the United States of Africa must be accelerated if Africa were to be relevant in the competing global politics of hegemony and protectionist economies.

Paper presentations and group work have so far dwelled on the themes of federalism and sovereignty of States; Federalism, Cultures and National Languages; Federalism, Economic Development, Science and Technology, Federalism, African Peoples, the Civil Society and the Diaspora, and the African  Union Authority.

The ongoing consensus among participants is that of guaranteeing the success of this mega enterprise, namely the United States of Africa. The pan-Africanists and scholars argued that involving the peoples of Africa, the civil society and the Diaspora is an imperative, as Africa’s destiny cannot be the business of the rulers only.

The outcome of this symposium is therefore to lay the foundations for continuous reflection on the United States of Africa and bring together the intellectuals and academicians of the Continent and the Diaspora in multidisciplinary networks for research on the question of integration and federalism. Federalism has remained a topical issue in Africa. The question here is how the African Union (AU) can be adapted to the evolving international system so as to offer the Third Millennium a strong, integrated and respected continental organisation structured in a way that meets the aspirations of Africans. It should be recalled that the intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora meeting in Dakar in 2004 reiterated the idea of the creation of the United States of Africa.

In the same vein, the African Union Commission, in its document titled Strategic Vision, came up with a draft policy anchored on renewed Pan-Africanism and on a vision of the future of the Continent, a vision built on a new political integration strategy. Thus, for the African Union Commission, the first core idea emanating from the Constitutive Act is that, political integration should be the raison d’être of the AU, the ultimate objective being to build  the United States of Africa (federation or confederation).

At their 4th Ordinary Session held in 2004, the Heads of State and Government decided, after deliberation, to forge ahead towards the United States of Africa and to set up a continental government. At their 5th Ordinary Session held in July 2005, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed in a Decision that the ultimate objective of the African Union is the political and economic integration of the Continent, leading to the United States of Africa.

In January 2007, they organised in Accra a grand debate on Union Government following which they adopted a declaration known as the Accra Declaration in which they agreed to accelerate the economic and political integration of the African Continent including the formation of a Union Government for Africa with the ultimate objective of creating the United States of Africa. They further agreed on the areas of competence of the Union Government, but with differences over implementation modalities, timeframes and the form this Government would take.

In February 2009, the Heads of State and Government meeting in the 12th Ordinary Session of their Assembly, decided to transform the Commission into an African Union Authority made up of Secretaries. The resolutions and recommendations from this symposium shall be forwarded to the African Union, development partners and pan African civil society associations for concrete realisation and implementation.

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