The focus of this series was influenced by the major shift occurring in African governance as the Organization of African Unity is phased out, and Africans sign onto new membership in the African Union. The theme captures the new type of relationships being crafted between the AU and African states, between the AU and the international community, and between the African official leadership and the citizenry as this shift occurs.
African governance has emerged as one of the major topics in the American dialogue about whether developing strong relations with Africa is “in America’s national interest.” The American slogans “Trade, not Aid” and then “African solutions to African Problems,” which characterized some policy discussions in the 1990s, reflected the hesitation that many American policy makers have had towards investing in Africa given the length and fragility of Africa’s political and economic transitions. The African environment, however, is undergoing positive change.
A 2001 World Bank report, examining “Can Africa Claim the 21st Century,” answered yes, if Africa can develop the structures for trade, investment, growth, peace, and security that are needed. Obviously, African countries made significant adjustments as they moved to post-cold war politics focused on state democratization and economic restructuring. Africans themselves have recognized that this was not sufficient for preventing ethnic conflicts and civil war; stemming conflicts over resources between neighboring states; reducing poverty and achieving an equitable distribution of national resources; reducing debt and guaranteeing economic growth and development; or encouraging leadership transitions that reinforce democracy. Given the new understandings of shifts occurring within the global economy, African leaders have challenged themselves to construct patterns of regional and continental governance that will encourage unity and push Africa toward development.
Sessions of this series are designed to examine how it is in America’s long term interests to work with Africa in the changing global environment of the present, focusing on five major challenges under the African governance theme: the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD); management of strategic resources; leadership and democratic transitions; security, anti-terrorism, and tribunals; global partnerships with the United States, G8, and the United Nations.