The past several years have experienced watershed developments in the world in general and Africa in particular. The keynote developments at a world stage relate to the crafting of the post-2015 development agenda which seeks to establish continuity to the Millennium Development Goals that are coming to an end in September 2015. On the other hand, the African Union (AU) has recently adopted the AU Agenda 2063 at its 24th summit. This is a long term transformative and developmental blueprint that seeks to harness the vast resources (both human, natural and technological) for the effective transformation of the continent. This is captured in the general aim of the agenda which states that the AU Agenda 2063 is “A global strategy to optimise use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans.”
AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals – The common thread and the deviating points
An interesting development is that the AU came up with The Common African Position on the post-2015 Development Agenda. By doing so, the Agenda 2063 is firmly grounded in the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda, albeit with a much longer implementation period. There is a common thread running through the priority areas – human security. The Agenda 2063 emphasises the need for industrialisation, infrastructure development and good governance as well as job creation (which has been an Achilles heel and a tonic for youth violence) (UNDP, 2013). Whilst good governance has largely prevailed elsewhere, the practice in Africa leaves a lot to be desired.
A huge divergence is in the implementation schedule. The Agenda 2063 is divided into ten year cycles and the post-2015 agenda proposes another 15 year cycle similar to the MDGs. Most of the African countries are struggling to satisfy the 8 developmental goals. About twenty four of the African countries have extreme poverty and are listed by the World Bank (2014b) as ‘fragile states’. These fragile states pose a serious threat to peace and security on the continent and the post-2015 agenda views peace and security as fundamental in delivering a good life to the citizens, and these must not be treated as optional and extras (UN, 2013). There is probably very little to separate the two. The glitch with the AU Agenda 2063 is that, just like the NEPAD blueprint, it lacks popular consultation and familiarity at the grassroots level. However, there is no need to continue mourning about lack of grassroots consultation but to embrace the vision.
Perceived Challenges and mitigation strategies
It is a common factor that Africa is a very diverse continent whose people have got different experiential and existential realities. I have argued that there is a common thread that connects the AU Agenda 2063 and the post-2015 development agenda. If anything these two initiatives have the potential to effectively advance the human security agenda and transform the continent into a reputable and formidable global player. However, the continent faces various threats. Firstly, the successfulness of both blueprints is anchored on the accountability of states, the desire to fight corruption as well as the will to effectively democratise. The AU will have to seriously think of ways of encouraging and enforcing accountability among member states. Secondly, many African states are hamstrung by poor economies and will find it difficult to execute the objectives of the two developmental blueprints. As a result there is need once again to emphasise the need for effective public-private partnerships as well as to engage civil society in implementing the developmental goals. Civil society has the distinct advantage of effectively reaching out to both the political leadership and more crucially to the grassroots people who are more often excluded and yet they are the critical constituency. Thirdly, there is need to effectively invest in information, communication and technology. Apart from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia and a few other countries, many countries in Africa are struggling to provide an effective ICT platform for the facilitation of trade, business and dialogue. Another major challenge is the continued outbreak of violent conflicts in Africa, e.g. the Central African Republic, Sudan/South Sudan, Nigeria, Mali etc. The AU must have that strong continental will to address these conflicts as most are attributable to social exclusion, tribalism, contested elections, corruption and greed.
In conclusion I would say the Agenda 2063 and the post-2015 development agenda share a common denominator – sustainable development and transformation. Africa, with a strong political will and synergies among the critical stakeholders (especially civil society, business and the state), fighting the threat of corruption (especially electoral and bureaucratic corruption), is bound to realise its huge untapped potential. Reaching out to the ordinary citizens must be a key priority to ensure ownership of the processes.
David Makwerere is a PhD in Peacebuilding Candidate at Durban University of Technology and a lecturer in the Department of Peace and Governance at Bindura University in Zimbabwe. His research interests are in Peace, conflict, development and procedural and distributive justice at micro-levels
 Read the AU Agenda 2063 for specific objectives and strategies.