Life in the African Union
|Life in the African Union|
The combined states of the African Union constitute the world's 17th largest economy with a nominal GDP of $500 billion, ranking after the Netherlands. By measuring GDP by PPP, the African Union's economy totals $1.515 trillion, ranking it 11th after Brazil. At the same time, they have a combined total debt of $200 billion.
The AU future confederation's goals include the creation of a free trade area, a customs union, a single market, a central bank, and a common currency, thereby establishing economic and monetary union. The current plan is to establish an African Economic Community with a single currency by 2023.
According to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, its working languages are Arabic, English, French, and Portuguese, as well as African languages "if possible". A protocol amending the Constitutive Act adopted in 2003 but (as of 2007) not yet in force added Spanish, Swahili and "any other African language" and termed all six "official" (rather than "working") languages of the African Union. In practice, translation of documents of the AU into even the four current working languages causes significant delays and difficulties to the conduct of business.
Founded in 2001, the African Academy of Languages promotes the usage and perpetuation of African languages amongst African people.
Member states of the African Union cover almost the entirety of continental Africa and several off-shore islands. Consequently, the geography of the African Union is wildly diverse, including the world's largest hot desert (the Sahara), huge jungles and savannas, and the world's longest river (the Nile).
The AU presently has an area of 29,922,059 km² (18,592,705 mi²), with 24,165 km² (15,015 mi²) of coastline. The vast majority of this area is on continental Africa, while the only significant territory off the mainland is the island of Madagascar (the world's fourth largest), accounting for slightly less than 2% of the total.
The individual member states of the African Union coordinate foreign policy through this agency, in addition to conducting their own international relations on a state-by-state basis. The AU represents the interests of African peoples at large in intergovernmental organizations (IGO's); for instance, it is a permanent observer at the United Nations' General Assembly. Both the African Union and the United Nations work in tandem to address issues of common concerns in various areas. The African Union Mission in United Nations aspires to serve as a bridge between the two Organizations.
Membership of the AU overlaps with other IGOs and occasionally these third-party organizations and the AU will coordinate matters of public policy. The African Union maintains special diplomatic representation with the United States and the European Union.
When the African Union was founded in 2001, it represented almost the entire African continent. As the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), founded in 1963, its membership was inherited from that body. Currently, the AU has 55 member states as when it was founded. Growth in the OAU typically came from post-colonial independence; as decolonization ended, the borders of the OAU had overlapped almost all of Africa.
- "Profile: African Union". BBC News. 2006-07-01. Retrieved 2006-07-10.
- Article 25, Constitutive Act of the African Union.
- Article 11, Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union