Cooperation with regional organisations African Union

The African Union (AU) is the most important association of African countries. It was founded in 2002 and is the successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Today, all the internationally recognised countries of Africa are members of the AU, including the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara). The organisation has its headquarters in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Logo of the African Union

The African Union is a decisive driving force for the political and economic development of Africa. Its primary purpose is African integration, in other words, the promotion of cooperation on the basis of coordination and solidarity among African states, with a view to achieving peace, security and prosperity for all the people of the continent.

In 2013, the members of the AU adopted their Agenda 2063, a common vision for Africa's development over the next 50 years. In the Agenda 2063, the AU members laid down the following aspirations:

  • A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
  • An integrated continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa's Renaissance
  • An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law
  • A peaceful and secure Africa
  • An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics
  • An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential offered by people, especially its women and youth
  • An Africa as a strong, united, and influential global player and partner

Germany's development cooperation with the African Union

Cooperation with Africa is a focus of Germany's development policy. The German government's policy on Africa concentrates on the opportunities and the potential of the continent and its people. Its goal is a close partnership with Africa – politically, economically, culturally and socially.

Germany's cooperation with the most significant African regional organisation, the African Union, is therefore of great importance. Germany has been supporting the AU since 2003 and is now one of its most significant partners. Germany wants to further intensify its relations with the AU and has been supporting the organisation in reaching the goals it has set for itself. At present, the two sides' cooperation focuses on the following areas:

  • Peace and security
  • Regional economic integration, especially with regard to infrastructure, energy and agriculture
  • Good governance, including migration
  • Education – creating a better outlook for young people

Since 2006, Germany has committed more than 500 million euros in funding for the African Union. The resources came from the budgets of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Foreign Office.

The benefits of cooperation

GIZ staff in Addis Abeba

GIZ staff in Addis Abeba

GIZ staff in Addis Abeba

A politically stable, economically attractive African continent is not only in Africa's interest but also in Europe's and Germany's interest. A strong, effective African Union can play a key role in achieving that. Through its support for the AU, Germany is helping Africa to make significant progress on political and economic integration.

The outlook for the programme of cooperation is promising. However, positive developments are still being slowed down at present because the administrative and governance capacity of AU institutions is limited and because their financial resources are inadequate.

Priority areas of German cooperation with the AU in detail

Peace and security

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) is the African Union's most important instrument for upholding peace and security.

Germany is supporting the AU in developing the APSA by providing expert advice and training in the areas of management and organisational development.

Impact analyses have shown that the AU's capacity for effective action has grown significantly over the past few years. Many of its interventions have contributed effectively to conflict prevention, conflict management and peacebuilding.

Regional economic integration

If Africa's quickly growing population is to enjoy increasing prosperity, there needs to be inclusive economic growth. In order to foster regional economic integration, the BMZ supports pan-African programmes in the areas of infrastructure, energy, agriculture and trade.

For example, support is being provided to an AU initiative for investment in cross-border infrastructure, with a view to creating larger regional markets. In the East African Rift region, Germany supports geothermal power projects in order to give countries in the region access to clean energy sources. Germany is also a major supporter of the AU's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). One special focus of this support is on vocational training for women.

Germany will also assist the AU in the final negotiations on the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The purpose of these efforts is to give more momentum to intra-African trade, which has so far been weak, and to private sector development.

Good governance

Based on the model of the African Peace and Security Architecture, the AU has also been developing an African Governance Architecture (AGA) since 2010. The purpose of AGA is to ensure that the existing declarations containing standards for good governance and for respecting and fulfilling human rights will really be implemented effectively at the regional and national levels. The BMZ supports the development of AGA. Specifically, it assists the AU in establishing the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights and the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights. In the future, the BMZ will also increase its support in the field of information and communication technologies for AGA.

Germany also supports the African Union on issues related to displacement and migration. The purpose of this support is to enable the AU to develop pan-African positions on how to tackle the root causes of displacement and resolve the current challenges of displacement, and to provide advice to its member countries.


Students in a public school in Nigeria

Students in a public school in Nigeria

Students in a public school in Nigeria

In order to improve the outlook for young people, Germany and the African Union have been significantly increasing their cooperation in the field of education since 2015. Under the Skills Initiative for Africa, Germany is providing support with regard to vocational training and employment for young people and fostering regional dialogue on vocational training. Through the African-German Youth Initiative, the BMZ and the AU Commission support exchange among pupils, students and young workers from Africa and Germany.

The BMZ also supports the development of the Pan-African University (PAU), especially PAUWES, the Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change), in Tlemcen, Algeria. The Institute began to operate in October 2014. Support for its establishment was provided at various levels. For example, Germany helped with the development of governance and management structures and of curricula, with the renovation of buildings and with the provision of equipment for laboratories and computer labs. Germany is also providing funding for master's and doctoral scholarships and for teacher salaries, and it has been advising PAU on how to build networks with other academic institutions in Africa and around the world.

Adaptation to climate change

In 2012, the AU summit decided to launch the African Risk Capacity (External link), an insurance system for African countries that are struggling with the consequences of climate change. The insurance is intended to enable them to improve preparedness for extreme weather events and climate phenomena, such as protracted drought, and to meet people's basic needs in an emergency. This is meant to reduce African countries' growing dependence on international food aid and emergency relief.

The BMZ has provided funds-in-trust amounting to 46 million euros (plus 4 million euros for accompanying measures). Together with contributions from the UK and Sweden, this has enabled the launching of the insurance company. The company is working closely with international reinsurance companies.