The African Union (AU) is the most important regional intergovernmental organisation consisting of all 55 African states. It was founded in the South African city of Durban in 2002, as the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The AU Commission is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The organisation aims to promote and maintain peace, security and stability in Africa. The regional integration process is to be accelerated and the living standards of all Africans enhanced. The AU promotes good governance and advocates a larger role for the African continent in the global trade. The AU Member States have given the organisation a far-reaching mandate to intervene in crises in order to prevent and end war crimes, genocide and serious crimes against humanity, if necessary using military means and against the will of the government in question.
In 2013, in their Agenda 2063, AU Member States set out their shared vision for the development of the continent over the next 50 years. The goal is to create an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that is carried forward by its own people and which acts as a dynamic force at global level.
Cooperation with the African Union
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been supporting the AU on behalf of the German Government since 2004. The federal enterprise is actively engaged in about 20 supraregional projects that now embrace 33 African states: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, the Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia
There are around 170 staff members that work at the GIZ AU main Office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and at a number of other locations, including Pretoria in South Africa, where, in particular, the projects supporting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) are based. Other project locations include Tlemcen, Algeria, at the seat of the Pan African University’s Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) and Arusha, Tanzania, at the seat of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
GIZ supports the AU in its work to become more effective and to implement its strategies and programmes. It cooperates with seven of the eight AU departments, with a focus on the following five areas:
- Peace and security
- Good governance and migration
- Regional economic integration
- Agriculture and land governance
Many of the programmes pursue a multi-level approach and work not only at continental level, but also at regional and national level. Staff are also seconded to the Regional Economic Communities including ECOWAS, SADC and the EAC, and to 19 of the AU’s Member States. They advise the respective partners on how to best realise and implement continent-wide agendas, protocols and declarations.
Since cooperation was first launched in 2004, programmes worth more than 550 million euros have been realised. Over and above this, Germany supports the AU indirectly through its contributions to multilateral organisations like the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations (UN) and its subsidiary organisations, and through the European Union (EU).
Cooperation with NEPAD
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), based in South Africa, has acted as the technical arm of the AU Commission since 2001, implementing continental development projects across Africa. In February 2010, NEPAD was renamed the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) and became fully integrated in the structures of the AU.
German development cooperation has supported NEPAD from the outset. Currently seven of the nineteen GIZ-AU programmes are working with the NPCA, especially in the fields of agriculture, infrastructure and vocational education.