African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 – Department of International Relations and Cooperation briefing

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Meeting Summary

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) made a presentation to the Committee on the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan. Members were told that Agenda 2063 set out development goals for Africa as a continent to reach by 2063, with aspirations for a peaceful, unified, strong and just Africa.

Work on Agenda 2063 had begun in 2014, and would require considerable political will from countries, both big and small. Major projects included the Great Inga Dam, ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020,’ the Continental Free Trade Area, and free movement among states via an African passport. Many sources of funding were being considered, and monitoring and oversight was being discussed very seriously. Pursuit of Agenda 2063 aligned very well with South Africa’s own plans to implement the National Development Plan (NDP).

The Committee asked questions about monitoring, where funding would be targeted, the potential dangers inherent in the free movement of persons, the Great Inga Dam, Africa’s rail infrastructure, whether the continent planned to diversify economically beyond commodity-based enterprises, and the influence of the Chinese on the continent.

The Department responded that although more monitoring bodies and mechanisms would be necessary, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the AU Peace and Security Council currently provided much needed leadership on a spectrum of issues, from election monitoring to a conflict crisis response. It said that the Great Inga Dam was not the only solution being considered for energy issues, but the 40 000 megawatts the dam would generate was an enormous amount of power.

The Department admitted that the plan was aspirational and that the infrastructure required for both rail transport and free movement would be difficult to achieve quickly. Africa had vast mineral wealth and though diversification was necessary, the Committee should not underestimate this. China’s influence on the continent might pose an issue in the future.

Members called for Agenda 2063 to be people-driven, and emphasised the need for infrastructure improvements, with the bigger economies having to provide the lead. The Department agreed, and spoke about boosting inter-African trade. 

Meeting report

Ambassador Lenin Shope: Chief Director, Africa Multilateral, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), said the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 was a strategic framework for the sustainable growth of the continent. The AU Commission, supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) planning and coordinating agency and the African Development Bank, had produced Agenda 2063.The first draft had been presented in January 2014, with a progress report in June 2014, followed by engagement with youth and stakeholders.

Political will and coherence among African nations was the key to achieving the Agenda. Integration had to be accelerated to address infrastructure issues. South Africa’s dominance of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was a situation in need of remedy in order to develop the whole region more equally. Complaints had also arisen of South Africa dominating the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP).

South Africa had hosted a consultative meeting of former heads of state on 11 December 2014, followed by the Bahir Dar Ministerial Committee on 13-14 December 2014. In January 2015, the AU Summit had adopted the technical document and the popular version of Agenda 2063.

The First Ten Year Implementation Plan outlined specific targets, delineated between national, regional, and continental responsibilities, and indicated potential sources of funding. Member states currently contributed only around 3% to the AU budget. Various follow-up meetings had taken place in Zambia and Ethiopia in March 2015.

Agenda 2063 had identified seven aspirations. These were:

  • A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth.
  • An integrated continent, politically united.
  • An Africa of good governance, with respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
  • A peaceful and secure Africa.
  • An Africa with a strong cultural identity, values and ethics.
  • An Africa whose development was people-driven, especially by women and youth.
  • Africa as a strong, resilient, and influential global player and partner.

Mr Shope noted that many new issues were becoming human rights issues. He gave the example of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBT-Q) acceptance. For African peace, he noted the goal to ‘silence the guns’ by 2020. He asserted that Africa must become more able to solve its own problems while not severing international links.

Fast track projects and initiatives included an integrated high-speed train network to benefit infrastructure and trade, the Great Inga dam that would generate 40 000 megawatts, a single African aviation market, outer space, a Pan-African E-network, an annual African consultative platform, a virtual university, free movement via an African passport, a continental free trade area to build on the new Tripartite Free Trade Area, silencing the guns by 2020, development of a commodity strategy, the “Nelson Mandela Decade 2014-2024,” and an African central bank by 2030. Implementing an African passport would be challenging, due to security concerns.

Existing sources of funding included micro-finance institutions, development finance institutions, insurance companies, and foreign direct investment. Funding had to be centered on member states. New commercial structures would be created, such as the Africa 50 Fund; Africa Credit Guarantee Facility; Africa Investment Bank; Africa Infrastructure Development Facility; Diaspora bonds; Diaspora remittances securitisation, Africa-owned private equity funds, intra-Africa investment promotion, traditional Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). There would also be an African Integration Fund that aimed to make projects bankable.

Monitoring and evaluation had been thoroughly discussed. There was a need to reinforce the culture of managing results, enhance accountability, deepen integration, and encourage participation and ownership.

Mr Shope said that a big problem for this project was the vast differences between the sizes of African economies. For example, South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) was R350 billion, compared to Botswana’s R18. To assign equal responsibility between South Africa and Botswana for building bridges at Botswana’s border to combat flooding during the rainy season made no sense, considering how much more South Africa would benefit.

The First Ten Year Implementation Plan aligned very well with South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP). Therefore, oversight on the NDP would also help with the implementation of Agenda 2063.


Mr M Khawula (IFP, KZN) said that each country had its own system of monitoring. How would monitoring be done on a continental basis? How would the ‘Silencing the Guns’ by 2020 aspiration be monitored or confirmed? He said that sometimes leaders ganged up on communities and no steps were actually taken. What principles had been created to outline consequences?

The Chairperson commented that these issues could take all day, and that Mr Khawula was from KZN.

Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape) noted that in all the goals listed under implementation plans, energy had been addressed very briefly. She was glad that the plan addressed youth and women. Would the funding be specifically targeted? How and where would it be targeted? As for the free flow of people, she commented that there were many foreign nationals in South Africa and there had been problems -- for example, some people believed that foreign nationals were bringing in drugs. How would Agenda 2063 prevent these problems?

Mr B Nthebe (ANC, North West) said that South Africa was moving towards Agenda 2063 already. A skills revolution would be necessary for development, along with a boost in infrastructure. He said that infrastructure in West Africa was lacking, and for trains to be effective, an uninterrupted rail infrastructure would be necessary. The Great Inga Dam had to be a collaboration between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This project would require travel and power lines through Zambia and Zimbabwe, and it would be rude not to share the power with these countries.

He observed that the international community was moving away from a commodity-driven economy, even China. South Africa’s economy must also evolve away from commodities, and Agenda 2063 should not be commodity-driven, but rather focused on diversification. Goal number one should be ‘Silencing the Guns,’ as peace was a necessary prerequisite for development. He agreed that the bigger economies must carry the smaller economies, and called for cross-subsidisation.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) asked about the influx of Chinese people into Africa. He said that even switchboard operators were Chinese. He recognised that the Chinese provided aid for infrastructure development, but asked whether the cost of this partnership was being discussed.

Mr Shope said that he had tried to project the actual First Ten Year Implementation Plan for the Committee, and had failed. He explained that monitoring had been a major issue discussed at the summit in Johannesburg, considering the upcoming need for greater funding contributions from African countries. A number of monitoring institutions had been set up, such as the AU Peace and Security Council and the Africa Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), for ‘Silencing the Guns’ especially. In July, South Africa had occupied the chair of the AU Peace and Security Council, and DIRCO’s Minister had examined, for example, the issue of South Sudan at a summit in Addis Ababa.

At the SADC level, there was the SADC Organ on Political Defense and Security, which had had a summit last month in Gaborone. This organ had addressed the situation in Lesotho, where a rebel general had been killed, Madagascar and the eastern DRC. The Force Intervention Brigade of the SADC -- with troops from Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa -- had managed to defeat the M23 rebel fighters in the eastern DRC.

At the continental level, there had been an effort to set up an African standby force that would have rapid deployment mechanisms. Though the African standby force had not been created, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) had been created and would use volunteering nations for crisis situations. There were efforts to create more regional monitoring bodies, for health, education, and various pther targeted areas for development. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) monitored elections, for example, but this was another continental organisation.

In the European Union (EU), countries had surrendered a degree of sovereignty to the EU. While the AU had not done this yet, it might become necessary in the future. The First Ten Year Implementation Plan was a living document and would be updated.

The Great Inga Dam would provide electricity to a large portion of the continent, but it was not the only plan to produce more electricity. There had been a call for input to Agenda 2063, but only 15 countries had responded. It had therefore been somewhat difficult to see exactly what the continent needed as a whole. The President had committed funding for women’s empowerment, but he did not have the information on exactly how that money was being used.

Mr Shope again admitted that ensuring security in a free-movement system was an issue. Though it was not a crisis, even South Africa was not capable of patrolling its borders. Namibia, for example, was even far less capable. These challenges would require further discussion. The First Ten Year Implementation Plan directly addressed skills development and health.

Mr Shope said that Agenda 2063 had put forward aspirations, but just because the plan wanted all people to be educated did not ensure that it would happen. South Africa had to harmonise within the region so that the region could harmonise with other regions. An example of a disjuncture was Tazara, a railway line between Tanzania and Zambia built to Chinese standards, to which no other lines could connect. Though driver’s licences would have their own country of origin, it would be the same driver’s licence everywhere on the continent through harmonisation.

The continent had a vast amount of commodity-based wealth, and an Italian company for example, had found a vast amount of natural gas in Egypt. A commodity strategy was necessary, lest the mineral wealth of Africa be ignored. It was commonly said that South Africa had missed out on the commodity boom, whereas a country like Australia had not. While beneficiation and services were lucrative, so were minerals. Illicit funds were an issue and must be planned against. He was unable to provide a proper answer to the question about the issue of the Chinese. He recognised that the Chinese had invested heavily on the continent.

Dr Y Vawda (EFF, Mpumalanga) welcomed the presentation and emphasised the importance of rail communication and telecommunications. He said that the project must be people-driven. It had to be understood that Africa had been, and always would be, prosperous due to its richness in resources. However, this was dangerous due to the fact that natural resources attracted outside attention. After all, the whole Belgian diamond business was based on blood diamonds, and the French had started the war in Burundi and Rwanda by bringing down a plane. He called for regionalization. For example, the Great Inga Dam would probably not benefit North Africa. Four regions all had different issues, but could complement each other. Africa must not beg for financing from outside.

Mr S Mthimunye (ANC, Mpumalanga) recognised that this was a huge issue, covering more than 48 years. He commented that life expectancy in Africa was unfortunately low. He said that plans in the past had been regime-oriented, so how could one ensure that Agenda 2063 would not be regime-biased and die with the problems of African leadership? As some African economies were bigger than others, would beneficiation be spread equally among economies? Would the plan benefit Africans in the diaspora, or leverage international support for Agenda 2063? He agreed that Africa’s commodity-driven economy largely benefited outside countries.

The Chairperson said that the Committee could not cover the Agenda 2063 in two hours. It had to remind itself that the Western Sahara was the last occupied country on the continent. The South African Revenue Service played a big role in raising revenue, and was attempting to help other countries improve their tax structures. In South Sudan, the revenue office was reminiscent of the shacks in South Africa.

He wished that the Committee could further discuss participation in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The Committee wanted to exercise its oversight role on the implementation of Agenda 2063 by DIRCO. In 2016, DIRCO should report again on progress.

Mr Shope said he had spoken about plans to improve infrastructure. He mentioned the plan to boost inter-African trade (BIAT). He agreed that the Agenda must be people-driven, and reminded the Committee that many groups of people had been consulted in drafting the plan. He recalled his time as Ambassador to Italy, and said that the Italians had been very jealous of the Great Inga Dam. Great Inga Dam will produce enough electricity for a good part of continent, and power could in theory even be sold to southern Europe. 800 megawatts would power the Free State -- the Great Inga Dam would produce 40 000 megawatts. Of course, this was not the only project in the energy sector.

The AU was looking at ‘alternative sources of funding’. For example, Nigeria was the biggest producer of oil on the continent, and thus did not want to tax oil -- it looked for alternative things to tax. The amount of money each member state paid had to be assessed, but would need to increase from 3% of the AU budget. He agreed that youth, women, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must be involved in the planning. Agenda 2063 was not a regime-based plan. For South Africa, the implementation of the NDP would also achieve implementation of Agenda 2063.

The AU was trying to integrate NEPAD. As for the Western Sahara, SADC was its strongest supporter -- its opponents were its border countries. The SADC pushed for de-colonisation and self-determination. SARS assistance was very necessary to monitor progress -- the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was one body that did this. Kenya would soon be holding a summit on APRM. The Department would be happy to report again. He added that it also reported to the AU.

Committee business

The Committee adopted the minutes of the meeting on 12 August without amendment.

The Chairperson referred to a staff member’s loss of a brother in a car accident. He had sent condolences on behalf of a Committee.

The Committee had been invited to the launch of a project in Kruger National Park on 24-25 September. It could not attend two events next week due to oversight work.

Mr Faber noted that he might be able to represent the Committee at an event on Wednesday.

The meeting was adjourned.


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