Ethiopia is a Christian kingdom that developed in the Ethiopian Highlands after 800 and was controlled by an aristocracy. The local Agaw peasantry owned and worked the land in the fertile valleys, but paid a tax from their produce to their governing … Continue reading
African Union, formerly the Organization of African Unity (OAU) is an organization of African nations created to promote continental peace, unity, and cooperation. The organization works to resolve conflicts between nations and to coordinate political, economic, cultural, scientific, medical, and defense policies.
The African Union has 53 member nations. Its headquarters is in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The organization was founded in Addis Ababa on May 25, 1963, as the Organization of African Unity. It retained that name until 2002 when it formally became the African Union (AU).
At the time of the OAU’s founding, African leaders disagreed about what kind of organization it should be. Some leaders pushed for the creation of a central government that would unite all of Africa under one authority. However, many of the nations had just recently gained independence from colonial rule and their leaders opposed the idea. The leaders eventually reached a compromise but in so doing created an organization that is controlled by its member nations, leaving it with little power to act on its own. Nonetheless, the organization has helped strengthen ties among African nations and settle disputes. But it has also faced many problems that have undermined its ability to achieve its goals. In the 1990s new leadership helped the OAU gain increased influence until its name was changed in 2001.
Africa’s role in the World Economy can be viewed in terms of a sleeping dog in the midst of lions. Africans are faced with widespread poverty, ill health, and lack of educational opportunities. Despite the positive political developments of the late 20th century, many African governments have been unable to improve their peoples’ standards of living. The foundation of Africa’s disadvantaged position has been its economic role in the world trading system.
Since at least the mid-19th century African economies were increasingly reworked to meet the needs of industrial Europe. Virtually all economic infrastructures were geared toward the export of Africa’s raw materials to Europe. Economic transaction and communication between neighboring states stopped if they were ruled by different colonial powers. African manufacturing was discouraged, and even banned, if it was likely to compete with the interests of European manufacturers. Indigenous African industry dwindled, and Africa was forced to import virtually all of its manufactured consumer goods. This was the economic system that Africa inherited at independence.
Making Africa even more dependent, the prices paid for its exported raw materials were set in the major financial markets of the world: New York City, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. The prices on African commodities rose and fell according to the needs of the industrial world, bearing no relationship to the costs of production or the economic needs of Africa. The full implications of this were powerfully demonstrated during the energy crisis of 1973. As oil prices quadrupled, the Western world went into recession and African commodity prices tumbled. Although North African oil producers benefited, sub-Saharan Africans were not yet oil producers on a significant scale and they too suffered from the hike in oil prices. The industrial world paid less and less for African commodities, while at the same time demanded higher and higher prices for its manufactured goods, which Africans needed to import. In this way Africa helped subsidize the industrial world’s economic recovery while most African countries spiraled into debt, poverty, corruption, and political instability, from which they have spent decades trying to recover.
Since the 1980s the industrial world’s financial tools, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), have proposed solutions to Africa’s chronic indebtedness. These solutions have been based upon the economics of developed economies, however, rather than upon the specialized needs of developing countries. They have directed African development plans to increase raw material exports, in order to generate the foreign exchange to pay back Africa’s debts. But as Africans export more coffee, for example, the price of coffee falls. Thus, Africans work harder and receive less for their efforts. The ultimate goal of the IMF and World Bank has been to enable Africa to pay its debts rather than to enable Africa to develop the self-sufficient ability to compete on equal terms with the industrialized world. They have succeeded in their goal: Africa pays back more in debt servicing than it receives in direct aid. But this means that governments have less to spend on health and education, leading to falling living standards.
African leaders are striving to establish regional trading groups to strengthen their position in the global market. In 2002 they inaugurated the African Union, an organization intended eventually to establish a common economic market and political union across the entire continent. Achieving this goal, which would make Africa a formidable world power, remains Africa’s primary task for the 21st century. Up till the early part of the 21st century Africa’s role in the world economy continued to be commodity based except for some countries like south African where some sort of machinery are designed.
Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia, the country’s commercial, manufacturing, and cultural center. It is situated in central Ethiopia at an elevation of about 2440 m (about 8000 ft) above sea level on a plateau that is crossed by numerous streams and surrounded by hills. It is the focus of a highway network, the site of an international airport, and the terminus of a railroad to the Gulf of Aden port of Djibouti, capital of the neighboring state of Djibouti. In the city are printing industries and manufactures include footwear, clothing, asbestos and metal products, processed foods, cement, and plywood. Flourishing handicraft industries produce leather, metal, and textile goods, which are traded along with the regional agricultural produce, such as coffee, tobacco, and dairy items, in the vast open-air market known as the Mercato, on the western side of the city.
Addis Ababa is a sprawling city, well wooded, especially with eucalyptus trees, and crossed by broad avenues. Modern, multistoried buildings sit side by side with traditional one- and two-storied structures and open spaces. Its high elevation gives the city a mild, pleasant climate. The city is the seat of Addis Ababa University (1950), schools of music and art, and several research institutes. As headquarters of the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the city is the scene of many international conferences. Of note in the city are the octagon-shaped Saint George Coptic Christian Cathedral (1896), the modern Africa Hall with its dramatic stained-glass windows, and the Menelik II Palace, as well as several museums with collections of art, ethnology, and archaeology.
The modern city was founded in 1887 at the site of a hot springs by Emperor Menelik II and given the name Addis Ababa, Amharic for “new flower.” It became the national capital in 1889. The city’s somewhat haphazard and unplanned growth was spurred by the completion in 1917 of the railroad to Djibouti. From 1936 to 1941 Addis Ababa was occupied by the Italians, who made it the capital of Italian East Africa and instituted extensive modernization projects. Between 1960 and 1970 the population of the city nearly doubled, and new light manufacturing industries were established. In 1963 the charter establishing the Organization of African Unity was signed here. Addis Ababa has a Population of 2,723,000 according to the 2003 estimate.