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Discussion Papers (series)

Getting partnerships right: The case for an AU strategy


Philomena Apiko, ECDPM paper, November 2021

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The African Union (AU) is mandated to promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and enable it to play its rightful role in the global economy and international negotiations. One of the AU’s key objectives is to encourage international cooperation with external partners to meet its Agenda 2063 vision of Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner.

This paper discusses the AU’s Partnerships Strategy and Policy Framework, which it is currently developing as part of its ongoing reform process. The objective of the strategy is to reformulate how the AU engages with external partners. The AU has a number of partnerships with countries, regional organisations and international institutions, but there is a realisation within the AU that such partnerships are not fit for purpose and face a number of challenges – including the lack of a coherent strategy.

The new strategy is envisioned to establish clear principles and develop the AU’s capacity to negotiate effective partnerships and monitor implementation. The paper identifies the challenges that the AU will need to address going forward. These relate to the AU’s institutional architecture for managing partnerships, to its representation role, given the range of sometimes competing interests among member states, and to how it might prioritise its focus with specific partners based on their competences. The paper then provides recommendations for how the AU can advance its agency in external partnerships to ensure mutual benefits with win-win outcomes for the continent.

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Photo courtesy of UN Photo, Ariana Lindquist via Flickr.

The political economy dynamics of regional organisations in Africa

This paper was produced as part of the second phase of our project on the political economy dynamics of regional organisations in Africa – PEDRO II.

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African institutions and regional dynamicsDiscussion Papers (series)