Support to the African Union Border Programme

Project description

Title: Support to the African Union Border Programme (AUBP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Foreign Office
Lead executing agency: African Union Commission (AUC), Peace and Security Department (PSD); Regional Economic Communities; National ministries for border issues; National border commissions
Overall term: 2008 to 2019

 © GIZ


The legacy of Africa’s colonial history for many states includes numerous post-independence national boundaries that are unclear and sometimes violently disputed. Only a third of the borders in sub-Saharan Africa are clearly delimited and demarcated. The African Union (AU) considers ill-defined borders as potential sources of conflict, especially when natural resources are discovered in the border regions. Such borders are a threat to peace and security, and they hinder regional integration, economic growth and development. In 2007, the AU launched the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) as a direct response to these risks.


Effective and sustainable border management prevents conflicts between African states and fosters integration through peaceful, open and prosperous borders (AUBP vision).


On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, GIZ is assisting with the implementation of the Border Programme across the continent, and at regional, national and local levels. The project is led from Addis Ababa and reflects the different components of the AUBP:

  • Support to AU Member States for border management: The project is currently supporting 23 countries with the delimitation, demarcation and management of their borders. It also assists its partner countries in implementing and expanding cross-border cooperation, and in drafting local conventions and development plans as an important contribution to tackling the root causes of migration. Other aspects of this support include conflict resolution and security, as well as an integrated approach to border management.
  • Cooperation with regional economic communities: The project is facilitating a regional network of border experts, which underpins the creation of a platform for collaboration between the AU Commission and Africa’s various regional economic communities. The main aim here is to harmonise policies and establish joint guidelines on integrated border management. Moreover, the project supports the regional communities in playing an active role in the resolution of boundary disputes.
  • Support for the AUBP unit and other border-related entities within the AU Commission: The project advises the AUBP unit on planning and implementing strategies, and on organisational development. As well as contributing at the policy level, GIZ is supporting the development of the AU Border Information System (AUBIS). Moreover, the project promotes cooperation and exchange with African universities and training institutes to consolidate sustainable border management capacities in various disciplines. The project emphasises conflict-sensitive and gender-responsive approaches in all areas of its work.


By the end of 2018, more than 4,700 km of African borders had been fully delimited and demarcated as part of the GIZ project. The borders between Burkina Faso and Mali, Malawi and Zambia, and Mozambique and Zambia have been fully demarcated, and agreements on the maritime boundaries between Comoros, Mozambique, Seychelles and Tanzania were signed in 2011 and 2012.

With assistance from GIZ, the drafting and ratification of local conventions on cross-border development, including resource and conflict management, and economic and social development, have established the basis for long-term cooperation between Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal on the local level.

To enhance conflict-sensitivity in boundary-related activities, the GIZ convened an expert group in 2015 to define best practices. The resulting ‘toolkit on sensitisation’ will be widely disseminated to inspire dialogue around demarcation and border management.

GIZ and the AUBP have jointly published five guidebooks on border management. The project carried out training at the local level. In 2015 these focused mainly on health issues and the prevention of epidemics in the context of border management.

Africa © GIZ

In June 2014, the GIZ-supported AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (the Niamey Convention) was adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. A continent-wide strategy for enhanced border management, which will take into consideration the policies of the regional economic communities, is currently being developed.


Further information


African Union Border Programme – From Barriers to Bridges.

This film depicts the Pan-African activities of the African Union Border Programme and their impacts. It shows how the delimitation and demarcation of borders in Africa can lead to cooperation between countries and prevent conflicts caused by poorly defined frontiers.

African Union Border Programme - From Barriers to Bridges