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Agenda 2063 and The Africa We Want
11. July 2019 at 23:49
“The window of opportunity to harness the demographic dividend is time bound and requires immediate investments,” - Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Former UNFPA Executive Director. For a long time, Africa has been described as a poor colonised region. However, since colonisation, a lot has changed.

Education has spread, and life expectancy has increased. Many, if not all countries are independent, and many have seen gains in civil liberties and political participation. Even as some African countries are making headlines with crises and conflicts, others are making headway with steady growth, rising investment, increasing exports, and growing private activity.


Despite being the largest source of raw materials with a projected GDP of $29 trillion by 2050[1], Africa has never become a real game player in the game of capitalism partly because of her internal contradictions such as unscrutinised policies and institution of reckless political decisions. To date only the resources of the continent have been effectively integrated into the global economic system meaning that Africa accounts for just above 3% of the world’s total volume of trade. Four decades ago, African countries specialised as primary producers and were highly trade-dependent. Today, they are still primary exporters – but are heavily aid-dependent and indebted.


There is no doubt that Africa has enormous unexploited potential – in human resources, resource-based sectors and in processing and manufacturing – and hidden growth reserves. It has barely touched the potential of its people and has much scope for improving delivery of its services needed to upgrade people’s capabilities and improve economies. The sheer number of challenges that the continent faces is not insurmountable. Development processes are essentially cumulative, with success in one area creating opportunities in others. Like other developing regions, Africa can benefit from “virtuous circles” involving different aspects of development.


It will not be easy but African people and their governments must set priorities. How can we develop comprehensive “business plans” to guide us through achieving and implementing the ambitious aspirations of Agenda 2063? This paper proposes an approach that focuses on four groups of issues with strong cumulative interactions. These issues are as follows:


a)     Investing in people;

b)     Improving governance and resolving conflict;

c)     Increasing competitiveness and diversification of economies; and

d)    Reduction of aid dependency and debt.


For purposes of this article we will discuss issue (b) because governance, conflict, and development interact on several levels in Africa. On the one hand, countries with better economic management and performance have made the greatest gains in political liberties and civil rights over the past two decades. On the other hand, one African in five lives in a country at war or severely disrupted by conflict. The point being that conflict has a trickle-down effect - it can impose massive direct and indirect costs on a country’s economy and governance.



On March 29, 2015, African ministers and development partners converged in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss how the continent can correct its internal distortions and harness its enormous resources for the benefit of the present and future generations. These elaborate discussions were what eventually culminated into Agenda 2063. Simply stated, Agenda 2063 reflects a shared vision by Africans for prosperity, development, well-being, unity and integrity. The Agenda recognizes that the future of the continent, in part, rests on the skills, knowledge, talents and commitment of its people.


The Agenda has been broken down into 7 aspirations[2] which outline the vision for the Africa that we want as follows:


1)     A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.

2)     An integrated continent, politically united based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance.

3)     An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.

4)      A peaceful and secure Africa.

5)     An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics.

6)     An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

7)     Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner


To effectively implement the agenda pursuant to paragraph 3 of the preamble of Agenda 2063, African leaders pledged to consider past plans and commitments. They pledged to:


a)     mobilize the people and their ownership of continental programmes;

b)     promote the principle of self-reliance and Africa financing its own development;

c)     champion the importance of capable, inclusive and accountable states and institutions at all levels and in all spheres;

d)    promote the critical role of Regional Economic Communities as building blocks for continental unity; and

e)     advocate for individual and collective accountability for results at government and institutional level.


Form the foregoing, it is quite evident that Agenda 2063 will not happen spontaneously, it will not only require a fundamentally new approach but also deliberate efforts and political will to nurture a transformative leadership that will drive the agenda and defend Africa’s interests.


Improving Governance and Resolving Conflict


Governance, conflict resolution and state building are central issues that affect Africa’s developmental agenda. Why? The first impulse came from within Africa. After years under authoritarian regimes, Africans are demanding multi-party elections and accountability in public resource management. Zimbabwe’s recent experience marks a fresh departure in changing an entrenched regime through the electoral process.


With the exception of a handful of relatively stable countries, majority of African countries today are either actively engaged in civil conflicts and wars or are in the threshold of civil conflicts and wars due to internal political contradictions fuelled by external forces. The militarised conflicts have resulted in large numbers of refugees criss-crossing from one country to another causing destruction to the environment and food security problems.


With the political and institutional order collapsing in a number of African countries, many governments are more pre-occupied in resisting change, resorting to management by crisis and using repressive state apparatus for social control for their survival. Several African governments today spend 30 – 40% of their national budget in foreign exchange, for purchasing military hardware and training repressive state apparatus with very little allocated for sustainable development. The self-perpetuating insecurity caused by rivalry between the civilian elite and the military for the control of state power cannot allow sustainable development to thrive let alone be initiated. Worse still it is a situation where a coup d’etat can suddenly transform a group of ill-equipped young soldiers into leaders of governments in the complex world. Because of administrative inexperience coupled with half-hearted commitment to political leadership a country becomes a land of opportunity for quick money making by aliens in the confusion at the expense of millions of citizens.


Globalisation also compounds this problem. Like other countries, African states face pressures to decentralise and to adapt to global governance structures and standards that encompass many areas once considered within the purview of national policy. Globalisation heightens the risk of economic instability, which can lead to social conflicts. All these factors have increased the importance of good governance, and sound institutions for mediating conflicts and social cooperation.


Not Just Circumstances – Leaders too


Africa has seen widely diverse patterns of governance. States such as Botswana and Mauritius have built effective institutions on the foundation of competitive democracy and the rule of law. Yet in distressing number of states as stated previously, governance has disintegrated into protracted civil wars and lawlessness. About 20% of Africans live in countries severely affected disrupted by conflicts, and 90 percent of the casualties are civilians. The region contains 20 million landmines, 16 million displaced persons, and more than 3 million refugees.[3] Most countries, however, fall in between these extremes of success and failure.  The adoption of the medieval monolithic mode of governance by many African leaders is has caused instability, ethnic and tribal conflicts, provided good ground for corruption, capital flight, civil wars, and refugee problems and failed leaders to differentiate between state and personal wealth. The impact has been gradual institutional decay, illiteracy among other evils.


Presently, most people are in a dilemma as to whether the European colonialists divided them more than what has happened under indigenous authorities in post-independence Africa. One thing is clear in their minds. The sentiments of oneness which colonialism had created in nationalist Africans and the traditional belonging to a community are rapidly disappearing, and instead fragmentation and poverty are increasing. The traditional African democracy based on discussion and consensus has been stifled. Authoritarian governments have strained relationship among people of the same nation and continent to the extent that Africa now finds itself caught between the danger of anarchy and tyranny. Colonisation of Africans by fellow Africans who yesterday cried foul play when Europeans dehumanised them has become a more resented pill to swallow because people feel their trust has been betrayed. It is apparent that African states have influenced their governance but have not determined the outcomes. The quality of their leaders has played a significant role.


Governance, Development, and Conflict are closely intertwined


According to the World Bank, better-managed economies in Africa make the greatest gains in political rights and civil liberties. While political change may not necessarily be directly responsible for economic gains, political participation does help pave the way for more accountable government.

The World Bank further notes that many of Africa’s poorly managed economies suffer from civil conflict – and where nation building fails, the costs are high. Conflict imposes huge direct cost and incalculable indirect costs (on economies, societies and neighbours) Collier & Hoeffler[4] estimate the typical cost of a civil war to be around $50 billion and argue that this reduces the future economic growth rate by 2 percentage points. They assert that conflict haunts the most potentially dynamic sectors and forces people to revert to subsistence activities.

What causes conflict? Although African countries are ethnically diverse this does not doom them to civil violence and slow growth. Poverty, unemployment, and underdevelopment (as evidenced by say, education levels), as well as politics that exclude segments of the population from political and economic participation, are the root causes of social fractionalisation and conflict. Since 1980s, conflict has afflicted 15 of the world’s 20 poorest countries. Thus, large parts of Africa need to break out of a vicious circle where conflict creates poverty and poverty boosts the likelihood of conflict.

Improving Governance and Increasing Participation Will Pay Off

Concerted efforts to improve governance will pay dividends in political stability and in a better business environment. To achieve aspiration 7, we should aim to:

a)   Empower citizens to hold governments accountable through participation and decentralisation. Ethnically fragmented societies can perform as well economically as homogenous societies – but only if they sustain participatory political systems.


b)     Enable governments to respond to new demands by building capacity – in enforcing contracts, offering social protection, and providing the functions otherwise supplied by membership in a distinct population group. This helps create legitimacy for the state.


c)     Enforce compliance with the rule of law and increase transparency. Governance reforms that increase state capabilities and enable groups to bargain peacefully over the allocation of resources are win-win, contributing both to the quality of economic management and to the consolidation of durable political systems. In the Africa of 2063, a corrupt and incompetent state is unlikely to endure.

These are not simply fads that come and go. A growing body of evidence points to the importance for development of creating durable, inclusive political systems – especially in ethnically diverse societies. These societies can perform as well as homogenous societies in economic terms, but if only they can sustain participatory political systems. There is no universal model to evolve African electoral systems for win-win development outcomes meaning that each country will need to determine the political structures that suit it best. Whereas multiparty democratic systems can be put in place fairly quickly, accountable, credible and durable democratic institutions take longer to develop – during which time the role of political leadership cannot be overemphasized. But many countries face a common challenge: developing democratic systems that facilitate political inclusion and representative parliaments, able to respond to the needs of citizens who define themselves largely in terms of ethnic kinship.


Many countries have adopted electoral systems from Western democracies with little effort to adapt them to or develop an alternative system based on African needs and realities. The adversarial systems often exact a high price by excluding groups from political participation. There are many ways to make electoral systems are inclusive at local and national levels. They include informal power sharing, bicameral legislatures, proportional representation, and various forms of regional autonomy, or federalism. All these governance systems accommodate diversity and provide space for local initiatives to a greater extent than is common in most African countries.


Stronger Institutions Are Essential


Good governance is not only a matter of electoral systems. It also involves building the capacity of many state and non-state institutions, including those of civil society (notably grassroots organisations, able to represent local interests) and the private sector, to create effective countervailing powers to the state. A free space is essential in this regard. Although political liberalisation has resulted in a tremendous increase in press freedom, Africa’s private media are often undertrained, under-equipped, and subject to restrictions – while the state continues to dominate key media such as radio and television.


An effective parliament is also crucial, especially in performing legislative roles such as scrutinizing budgets. But parliamentary capacity is low in many African countries. Concerted efforts to build expertise, especially of key parliamentary committees and of offices of the auditor-general, would greatly strengthen oversight. Africa’s development partners have a role here, both by offering equipment and training and by ensuring that development assistance are subject, where appropriate, to legislative review. In addition to these longer-run considerations, there are some immediate concerns. One is the soaring cost of elections and political campaigns in poor countries which drives up expectations of political patronage. The appropriateness of state funding of political parties is debatable. But it may be necessary to guarantee access to media channels by all parties and to set upper limits on campaign spending


Encouraging Demand for Better Governance


According to renown German Dutch writer Lutz Van Dijk, the people of Africa have the capability to find their own solutions to all the undeniable problems which confront them. This is what Agenda 2063 is all about. It has taken many years to shake off the economic and psychological consequences of slavery and colonialism, but the time has now come for an African renaissance – a proud new evaluation for Africa and its people. A new breed of African governance reforms must focus on increasing participation in service delivery and enhancing transparency to develop a civic counterweight.





A.H. Gelb (2000) Can Africa Claim the 21st Century? The World Bank


Collier P, Hoeffler A. (2004a). Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxfam. Econ. Pap. 56:563–95


Collier P, Hoeffler A. (2004b). Conflicts. In Global Crises, Global Solutions, ed. B Lomberg, pp. 129–55. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press


Cliffe, S. & Manning, N .(2006) ‘Building Institutions After Conflict’ The International Peace Academy's State-Building Project


Kayizzi-Mugerwa, S. Reforming Africa’s institutions: Ownership, incentives and capabilities. United Nations University: WIDER


Van Dijk, L (2004) A History of Africa. Frankfurt/Main, Germany: Campus Verlag GmBH,




[1] Get ready for an Africa boom". Retrieved 2017-09-12.

[2] Paragraph 18 of Agenda 2063

[3] A.H. Gelb (2000) ‘Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?’ The World Bank

[4] Collier P, & Hoeffler A (2004a). Greed and grievance in civil war. Oxfam. Econ. Pap. 56:563–95

Cite This Article As: Maulline Gragau. "Agenda 2063 and The Africa We Want." International Youth Journal, 11. July 2019.

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