Christopher Farai Charmba Political writer
At the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, the AU revealed the statue of Emperor Haile Selassie outside the organization's headquarters.
The former Ethiopian leader was honored for his contribution to building the unity of the continent and the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963, the predecessor of the AU.
Together with other continental soldiers such as Quam Nkruma and Julius Nierere, Haile Selassie was an advocate for the colonial rule's independence of the continent as well as for the reunification of Africa as a whole.
The UAE Charter, signed on May 25, 1963, wants "all African countries to be united from now on in order to guarantee the welfare and well-being of their peoples."
Unfortunately, 56 years later the unification of the continent remains a lack of desire.
Pan-Africanism was the driving force in the struggle against colonialism, but then the process of convergence of the continent as a unified entity was not realized, as Africa was supposed to be still divided by its colonial boundaries.
In the book "The African Union: Autocracy, Diplomacy and Peacebuilding in Africa," edited by Tony Carbo and Tim Murphy, Professor of International Relations, Kourouville Matthews notes that when the AC was established in 2002, the continent is ready for a new dose pan-Africa.
"In a rapidly globalizing world economy, pan-African and African renaissance require accelerating Africa's integration into a powerful unified unit that can set its agenda and effectively play a leading role in world affairs," he writes.
Africa's new set of leaders, Matthews said, "has again expressed Pan-African in a new form of a comprehensive set of norms, values and principles of democracy, good governance, peace and security, development, and partnership based on partnership.
It is clear that African leaders have, since the creation of the various African institutions, recognized the importance of united Africa and what is needed to achieve this.
However, approaching two decades after the re-launch of the UAE in the AU, a fully integrated continent is still in motion.
While attempts are being made to bring about change through initiatives such as the African Union Passport and the African Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA), they are still at an early stage and are not functioning.
The AU passport is meant to help travel across the continent, but this will not work unless the parties open their borders and still require other Africans to get visas to visit.
The unification of the African continent essentially requires the free movement of people and goods across borders. Not only will this help trade but also allow other Africans to see how their neighbors look elsewhere and get a better cultural assessment.
Facilitating entry will make it more convenient for Africans to travel to other African countries and potentially reduce travel costs across the continent.
The ACFTA, signed in Rwanda in March 2018, which seeks to create a free trade area for 49 of the 55 African countries, is another honorary initiative of the continental body.
This is a necessary step for economic integration in Africa and will help to increase trade between African countries.
This is definitely a necessary step for Africa to be able to fully use its huge resources and move towards self-sustainability.
According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe, ACFTA has the potential to boost Africa's trade by 52% by 2022.
But like most of the continent's problems, lack of political will hampers such programs. For ACPT to come into force, it requires 22 African countries to ratify it. So far, only 19 countries have done so.
Then is the fact that Nigeria, one of the largest economies on the continent, has not even signed the agreement, which shows that they seem to be on another page compared to other countries.
While consensus on continental policy is impossible, there must be concerted efforts to reach consensus on key issues for Africa and its future.
The rise of a statue of Haile Selassie outside the headquarters of the African Union is a noble gesture.
But if the institution and the leaders of the African countries really want to pay their respects, then it is important that they fulfill the wishes of the Ethiopian Emperor and commit themselves to uniting the continent.