Preparations are in top gear by the Ethiopian government and the Addis Ababa city authorities for the 50th anniversary of the African Union.
Formerly known as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the 54-member grouping has undergone considerable transformation since May 1963.
The objectives of the OAU, with only a membership of 37 countries, were among others to:
To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the people of Africa;
* To accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent;
*To promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples;
*To establish the necessary conditions which enable the continent to play its rightful role in the global economy and in international negotiations;
*To promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies;
*To promote co-operation in all fields of human activity to raise the living standards of African peoples;
*To coordinate and harmonize the policies between the existing and future Regional Economic Communities for the gradual attainment of the objectives of the Union;
*To advance the development of the continent by promoting research in all fields, in particular in science and technology.
These and many others would see the continent develop from third world poverty to first world status.
In spite of many challenging years of turbulent politics, economic challenges, and sometimes social disorder, the African continent has made many achievements.
A few pointers need to be given credence.
The first is obviously the breaking away from many of the member states colonial masters.
From 37 countries at inception in 1963, today the continent boasts of 54 states.
Intra-African trade has continued to grow between the member countries and now regional groups.
In the last 50 years, Africa has discovered and engaged itself in the exploitation of of enormous reserves of oil, gas, uranium, hydro-electric, coal production, uranium production, renewable energy such as solar and geothermal.
Africa is home to one of the largest mineral industries in the world. Being home to the second largest continent, mineral exploration and production constitute a significant key export, forex earner and major employer
Education, agriculture, investment, infrastructure development, growth of goods and services, tourism, arts and culture have developed over the last 50 years.
Delegates will need to take stock of thenext 50 years to come.