HAPPY AFRICA DAY

On this 25 May, the Pan-African countries are celebrating the Africa Day which symbolizes the creation of the Organisation of African Union by African leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963. Celebrations are held in the African countries as well as in some European countries where there are an important African Diaspora.
On the African continent, five countries, namely Ghana, Mali, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe observed the African day as a public holiday.
Historical background
Up to the 1950s, almost all of the Africa countries were colonies (some Protectorate status) of Western Europe and their borders were determined by the famous Berlin Conference (1884/85) which is often referred to as the Scramble of Africa. It is worth noting that Ethiopia is the only African country which was not a European colony, while all the rest of Africa had lost their sovereignty.
The Process of decolonization of the African Continent started in the late 1950s and Ghana become the first to gain independence in the Sub-Saharan Africa. In the early 1960s, in many parts of Africa struggle movement started to grow and fight the colonial and imperialist domination. By 1963, some 30 African countries were already independent and on the 25 May 1963 these countries met in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of African Union. The main objective of the Organisation was to promote solidarity and unity among African States and to assist the decolonization process of the rest of the continent.
Mauritius joined the Organisation of African Union in August/September 1968, ie, just a few months after gaining its independence. Over the years, Mauritius has stayed committed to the unity of African countries and has thus contributed in its modest ways to the promotion of peace and democracy in the region. Mauritius hosted the 13th Ordinary Summit of Organisation of African Union from 2-6 July 1976. The founder Prime Minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam assumed the Chairmanship of the Organisation from 1976 to 1977.
In 2002, the Organisation of African Union was transformed into African Union and its Headquarters is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All the African countries, with the exception of Morocco are members of the African Union. Morocco had protested the admission of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara) to the Organisation of African Union and finally Morocco withdrew from the Union in 1984.
The success and Challenges of the African Union
Over the past five decades, the African Union has contributed a lot to the integration of the continent and to the promotion of peace and security, democratic governance and economic development. It has acted as a common platform while dealing with international issues and has put in place appropriate institutions and protocols to promote economic integration for a sustainable development thereby bring prosperity in the region. The African Union is very optimistic about the bright future of Africa and firmly believe in the self-reliance and economic independence of the continent.
The African Union has successfully been able to coordinate and harmonize regional development programmes with the Regional Economic Communities which include, Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Maghreb_Union" \o "Arab Maghreb Union" Arab Maghreb Union (UMA),  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Market_for_Eastern_and_Southern_Africa" \o "Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa" Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA),  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_Sahel-Saharan_States" \o "Community of Sahel-Saharan States" Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and  HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_Community_of_Central_African_States" \o "Economic Community of Central African States" Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The Union has also been able to provide a sense of purpose to the African people with regard to freedom, dignity and a better life for all Africans. Many African leaders still strongly believe in African solution to African problem.
African Union Headquarters Addis Ababa
Despite many instruments and protocols about intra-African trade, we still find a lot of Tariff and non-tariff barriers which prevent the free movement of goods, services and people across borders. Non-tariff barriers in intra-African trade include mainly the long delays in border crossing and the high trade transaction costs.
Another challenge of the African Union has been the lack of ability to improve the road network and other public infrastructure which is vital for regional integration. Wars and conflicts has also damaged the unity in the continent. All these have adversely affected the standard of living of the common African. The Union has still a long way to go in promoting sustainable economic development which can create employment opportunity especially for the growing young African population.
African Union financial difficulties
The African Union has a serious funding problem as Contribution collected from member States account for less than 50% of the budgetary need of the Union (especially for the implementation of the Union Programme activities). The rest is still financed by European Union, United States of America, China and other western countries. For instance, in 2013, the Union total budget was $278m out of which only 44% came from member States and the rest was paid by donors. The Union stressed the need for bigger member States, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt and Algeria, to take a lead in the continent affairs.
This situation is regarded by many African leaders as a very critical issue which in one way or another affect the very independence and the long term viability of the Union. Many people now wonder if the African Union get the majority of their income from foreign donors, then, who really defends Africa’s interests and who drives the African agenda?  
The financial situation is further aggravated by the fact that there are many member States who are in arrears with their Contribution and there is doubt about their ability to pay all their dues. In the past, it is not a secret that the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was the biggest contributor among the African leaders to African Union Programme, he was even paying dues on behalf of other member States which made many fellow African leader to nickname him as" "king of kings of Africa."
The hope of a United States of Africa
Many Pan-Africanist leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Haile Selassie, Jomo Kenyatta and others had a dream that one day a United States of Africa will rise and will group all the African countries into a strong federation. To quote Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana- “If we [Africa’s people], are to remain free, if we are to enjoy the full benefit of Africa’s resources, we must be united to plan for our total defense and the full exploitation of our material and human means in the full interest of all our people. To go it alone will limit our horizons, curtail our expectations and threaten our liberty.” The concept of a United States of Africa is a Pan-African vision and can only be bought forward by Leaders who are real Pan-Africanists. This idea of the United States of Africa was, thus, revived by the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2009 and he even pledge necessary financial resources to this endeavor.
Vijay Mahajan in his book, entitled Africa Rising: How 900 Million African Consumers Offer More Than You Think, mentioned that a United States of Africa will generate a gross income of $978 billion and will put African ahead of countries such as India, Brazil or Mexico in term of total market.
Conclusion
There is a saying in Africa which reads: 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.'
I think the future of the continent is to go together- Not alone and fast but together and far.