The African Union ushered in a paradigm shift after its transition from Organization of African Union (OAU), particularly in the promotion of democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance. This was done in recognition of the importance of democratic governance as a foundation for sustainable peace and as a precondition of inclusive development. After a call for a continental agenda the AU Adopted Agenda 2063 as its long term development vision which is to create ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena’. Agenda 2063signals the commitment of African leaders to bequeath a united, peaceful and prosperous continent to the coming generation. In that regards, AU has dedicated its 2020 theme to ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s development’. The theme of the year aims to promote prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa to achieve a conflict-free Africa. The theme of the year will take stock of challenges and identify opportunities in an effort to make peace a reality for all, rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts and human rights violations.
Undeniably, there is a clear nexus between democracy, governance and conflicts with the lion share of the continent’s peace and security problems arising out of deficits in democratic governance. Democracy and governance challenges specifically weak state institutions, issues of transparency, accountability, and legitimacy; marginalization of citizens and groups; insufficient civic engagement, participation, lack of basic human rights, justice and the rule of law progressively culminate to conflict. It is important to note that silencing the guns in the continent is far from linear and it is a culmination of silencing several other ills – poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and many more.
To silence the guns in Africa, the continent must work to address the structural root causes of conflict by using different approaches – innovation being one. Across Africa, many innovators are coming up with initiatives and ideas that are contributing immensely to the culture of good governance, entrenching democratic values, creating social cohesion, bridging social religious and tribal divides, building common vision, creating platforms for dialogue, blowing the lid on wide spread corruption, trafficking of persons and illegal arms and many more – ultimately contributing to creating a peaceful and prosperous Africa – Silencing the Guns.
In recognition of the value that young people bring to Africa’s development and democratization process – the African Union has set youth engagement as one of its priorities by identifying youth as partners, leaders and beneficiaries. This initiative is focused to identify and recognize existing youth focused or/and youth led innovations to ultimately bring young people’s contribution on peace to the fore.
Young innovators across the continent that are doing commendable work – the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat in a joint project with Common market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is working to identify, capacitate and recognize youth innovations, innovation hubs and incubation centres across the continent that are working on innovations for structural prevention of conflict through addressing issues of democracy deficit, lack of good governance good and work to promote good human rights practices.