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Africa a unity?

When Africa Day was celebrated for the first time in Accra in 1958, only eight independent countries were involved in the celebrations.

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president after independence in 1957, convened the First Congress of Independent African States. The conference was intended to be a collective platform on which the newly founded states could build a post-colonial legacy.

In 1963, 32 African countries were independent and met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to found the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The main aim of the organisation was to ‘decolonise’ the remaining bastions of white rule in Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Mozambique and Angola, the British broadcaster BBC reported at the time. The meeting took place on 25 May, which is why ‘Africa Day’ is celebrated on this day every year.

In 2001, the OAU was dissolved and replaced by the African Union (AU). The new institution has broader aims: to promote African unity and solidarity, to strengthen the continent's political and socio-economic integration and to represent Africa's interests on the global stage. The European Union has certainly been a role model in this regard. These goals reflect the African Union's vision of creating an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa that has a strong voice in the global community.

However, the African Union and the European Union differ significantly in their stage of development, structure and level of integration. The EU is a deeply integrated grouping with extensive supranational competences, while the AU is still working on deepening its integration and strengthening its institutions.

The AU faces challenges such as political instability, conflicts, poverty and infrastructure problems. Its financial dependence on external donors and the limited ability to enforce its decisions are further hurdles. Compared to the EU, however, the AU is still a very young organisation - which faces far greater challenges. In 2001, the year the AU was founded, there were just under 840 million people living between Ras ben Sakka in Tunisia (Africa's northernmost point) and Cape Agulhas in South Africa; by 2024, there will be almost 1.5 billion people. It has taken the EU several decades to integrate.

But the fact that there is a sense of unity on the continent can be seen at every football World Cup, where the entire continent cheers along with its teaw last year and also launching the first pilot projects with a chain of vehicle testing stations, we are now about to start the first major installations of PV systems. More on this shortly.


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