The establishment of the OAU represented the first steps of joint African action, where the principles of African solidarity, unity of purpose, and destiny among the African countries and people were embodied.
The OAU has played a pivotal role through its influential and continuous contributions to the development of joint African action mechanisms from its inception and onwards. This is up to the present day in when it became known as the African Union (AU) in 2002, and it has represented the unified voice of the African people and countries that address the various issues and challenges facing the African continent.
The AU and its mechanisms now form the base around which the countries and people of the continent unite to strengthen the structure of peace and security, advance sustainable development issues and combat poverty, diseases, epidemics, terrorism, and extremism. These are the goals that African countries seek to achieve by implementing the UN SDA 2030 and the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Africa Day is an opportunity to celebrate the founding fathers of the OAU such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kwame Nkrumah, and Haile Selassie, and their contribution to putting the continent on the path toward independence, unity, and development. This is in addition to the progress made in the process of promoting peace, security, governance, and development in Africa, as well as to think deeply about the challenges and opportunities to achieve the hopes and aspirations of the African people in a better future.
It also represents an opportunity to renew the commitment and determination of the African countries collectively to the principles of unity, solidarity, and cooperation to achieve African priorities and improve the lives of African people.
Egypt is one of the founding countries of the OAU, and the Egyptian affiliation to the African continent will remain at the forefront of foreign policy circles. Africa also represents the strategic depth of Egypt since the July 1952 Revolution.
Egypt spared no effort to defend the interests of Africa and raise its voice for its right to peace, stability, and development. Throughout its contemporary history, it made unremitting efforts to achieve African interests and assist African countries in bilateral and multilateral tracks.
This was through supporting liberation and independence movements during the 50s and 60s of the last century against foreign colonialism, and contributing in the preservation and building of peace in Africa at the UN and AU levels. This is in addition to supporting the post conflict reconstruction and development and cooperating with international partners and financing institutions to bridge the financing gap for development projects in the continent, reduce debt burden, and implement the AU’s agenda 2063.
In addition, Egypt works with African countries to activate the continental free trade zone and harnessing its capabilities and expertise to advance joint African action to broader horizons, by creating a consensus on the main threats to peace and security, foremost among them combating terrorism, and leading the path of sustainable development in the continent. Egypt is keen also to transfer its technical expertise to other African countries by intensifying various training courses and grants for them, which would consolidate the pivotal Egyptian role in Africa with its influential tools, effective expertise, and balanced visions.
The unity of the African countries and cooperation among them is the basis for overcoming any challenge they face, especially in today's world of polarization and geopolitical tensions, and the multiple and successive crises that the continent suffers from. This is considering efforts to recover from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the war in Ukraine, and the food, energy, climate, high inflation, and debt crises.
Although Africa has been able to go a long way to overcome many obstacles related to achieving peace and security, there remains the need for more joint African action among the African countries to consolidate the foundations of peace, security, and stability in the continent. This is in addition to adopting the principle of "African solutions to African problems" as one of the most important ways to deal with common challenges facing the continent.
* The writer is human rights officer at the Supreme Standing Committee for Human Rights.