United States of Africa: Desirable but (Un)attainable?

by Segun Akinyode

I stumbled on a report in the June 7, 2007 edition of Daily Nation, a widely circulating Kenyan newspaper to the effect that Accra, the capital city of Ghana, will host Africa’s leaders in the month July 2007 to discuss a proposal ‘for an African Union Government towards the formation of The United States of Africa.’ For the past two years or thereabout, African Heads of States have been interacting and consulting towards establishing ‘common policy standards, harmonize the regional communities and coordinate negotiation with global powers in 16 areas.’ The report stressed further that the sixteen areas include ‘social services, agricultural and industrial development, trade, governance and democratization and external relations.’ Creating the harmonized states of Africa the report said will be carried out in three shifts:

2007 – 2009: Establishment of the Union Government.

2009 –2012: Union Government and laws in place for the United States of Africa.

2012 –2015: All required structures of the United States of Africa in place.

The report specified the officials who will run the affairs of the Union, the modus operandi of their appointment and election, capping the long list of what it called ‘Key Features of the Proposal’ with a proposed establishment of financial structures including an African Stock Exchange, Central Bank and one currency (the Afro?).

What comes out screaming from the report is that African leaders are determined to create one politically and economically focused African continent. The ultimate result is to give Africa’s politically conscious elite a stable entity from where sound and credible postulations can be made for the realization of a near egalitarian United States of Africa. It will also afford the business minded ones the opportunity of economic free ranging, unfettered buying and selling climate which will lead to buoyant financial rewards. In a succinct parlance, the creation of USA, United States of Africa, will make life more tolerable for Africans.

It means the adventurous and honest African can feel free to move from say Chad Republic through Ghana, Nigeria to Gabon and decide to reside in Kenya or Tanzanian with minimal or zero immigration hassles. Goods and services can flow and interact from one corner of the continent to the other without fear of the influence of demand and supply short changing the buyer who may be from a currently economically suspicious Republic of Benin against the seller who may be from a relatively economically stable South Africa. If there is any kind of social strife in any part of the continent, a checkmating process will swiftly douse such upheaval. The union will empower Africa to put at abeyance the likes of the conflagration that is the current relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia. The unease that is the lot of Darfur will be a thing of the past. In effect, African countries will, with the establishment of The United States of Africa, rally round and bail out the relatively economically and politically sick members like Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Gabon, Senegal, DRC, etc.

With the coming of US of Africa, Northern and Southern Sudan will merge just like West and East Germany became one without resorting to unnecessary violence. A common currency, Afro, will strengthen the economic voice of the continent. Africa will speak with one voice, act as a union and present a common voice, goal and aspiration instead of the current babel of opinion and aspiration.

However, is this lofty dream practicable or realisable even in the next eight years as specified in the 2007 – 2015 process enumerated above?

The first port of call in an attempt to subject the reliability of The United States of Africa to a litmus test is an evaluation of the effectiveness of the African regional bodies: How far has African Union (AU) gone in policing the troubled spots in the continent? What is the implementing respect African leaders give to AU’s directive? What is the effectiveness grade of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the area of life it proclaims to champion, economy? Are the two COMESSA-bodies Community of Sahel-Saharan States, and Common Market of East and Southern Africa doing so well? Nepard, is this African association living up to expectation? What has been the impact of East Africa Community, (EAC), since inception, on the wellbeing of the people of East Africa? Is the northern part of the continent at any form of relative economic and political peace?

As advantageous as the establishment of US of Africa is, there are certain monumental obstacles that may hinder its gestation. Some countries in the continent can simply be described as economic parasites. They are so economically deprived to the extent that their annual budget is announced after their colonial masters must have declared theirs. Some African countries still rely almost hundred percent on aid and grant to run their heavily impoverished economy. What happens to US of Africa when the interest of the donor nation is at variance with that of the US of A? Is the suspicion not there that a particular African leader, Ghadaffi has been the only loud voice in this regard? How come other African leaders are not expressing similar enthusiasm in the scheme since it the general progress of Africa continent that is being discussed?

My simple approach to the formation of the US of Africa inspired of its desirability and centrality is like it is said in bureaucratic setting, kiv, the idea should be kept in view if Africa is not planning to end with another comatose body.

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