Rwanda has picked Monique Nsanzabaganwa to contest for the position of Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), African Union’s implementing organ. Nsanzabaganwa is currently the Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR). Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation invited members of the African Diplomatic Corps for dinner to officially introduce Nsanzabaganwa. “If elected, I commit to driving efficiency and accountability as well as financial sustainability, and to personally represent the moral authority and integrity the AU stands for,” she said. According to available information, four candidates have already expressed interest in the job, which involves managing personnel and finance of the AU secretariat on top of deputizing the commission chairperson. A source from the AU intimated that all the candidates are from the eastern Africa region, according to an insider source from the African Union Commission. Besides Rwanda, the other candidates are from Uganda, Somalia and Djibouti. The Deputy is elected by the Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once. Election is by secret ballot and a two-thirds majority of member states eligible to vote. Nsanzabaganwa, if elected in February next year – the planned period of election, will replace Quartey Thomas Kwesi, a Ghanaian who has held that position since 2017. Who’s Rwanda’s candidate? Nsanzabaganwa has, for many years, built a strong career in the public sector, predominantly leading programmes that drive financial inclusion and economic prosperity. She currently chairs the Rwandan chapter New Faces, New Voices, a Pan-African advocacy group that focuses on expanding the role and influence of women in the financial sector. A former Minister of Trade and Industry, and Minister of State for Economic Planning, she is also the chair of the Executive Committee of Unity Club, an organisation comprising former and current cabinet members and spouses. Nsanzabaganwa is an economist by profession, and she believes her experience and caliber can allow her to contribute to driving the continent’s aspirations to achieve economic growth. “I aspire to be part of the AU leadership that represents and promotes the continent’s economic growth and potential on the international agenda,” she says in her manifesto. Nsanzabaganwa, who is a PhD in economics, has highlighted five priorities that she will implement if elected as the Commission’s deputy chair. These include leadership empowerment, and strengthening accountability and transparency. “I believe we can reinforce trust among member states, employees and citizens, and gain better respect and reputation in the world stage.” She also wants to enhance the AU Commission’s integrity, drive the reform of structural systems, as well as lead the organisation’s cultural transformation. She says that she has been a transformative change agent who has brought about reform to organizations to generate strong results. “I want to connect our vision and mission to the needs of the African Citizenry and reinforce that the individuals of every nation are the ultimate beneficiaries of our success.” If elected, Nsanzabaganwa believes she will join the organisation at a critical time to implement administrative and financial reforms of the AU, with focus on financial sustainability and full accountability. The AU is currently undergoing reforms led by President Paul Kagame, a task he took over since early 2017. In 2016, African leaders decided that institutional reforms of the AU was necessary given the role the AU is expected to play in driving Africa’s Agenda 2063 – vision of inclusive economic growth and development. Kagame was then mandated by the Assembly of Heads of State to lead the process. Part of his work was to laynout proposals that ensure the continental body establishes and focuses on priority areas, streamline its current structure and make it financially less dependent on partner funding. Early this year, the President said the organization was on course to achieve those goals, highlighting, for instance, that the budget process was now more transparent and the burden was more evenly shared among member states. According to him, more than $150 million had also been contributed to the Peace Fund over the last three years, and the Board of Trustees was already in place. As part of making the Union financially independent and self-sustaining, Heads of State in 2016 also adopted a decision directing all member states to implement a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports. The recent evaluation meeting of Kagame’s assignment took place this week on Tuesday at his office. **** WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT HER John Rwangombwa, the Governor of the Central Bank, who works with Nsanzabaganwa. She is a person with a level of commitment that is ‘really’ high, and of high integrity. She is very analytical in whatever she does and pays attention to detail. With that commitment and her level of expertise in the financial sector and governance, she will play a key role in driving the AU reforms. -- Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment who served with her in the cabinet. Monique is among the best that Rwanda can offer to the African Union. She has all it requires to take that position. She’s a woman of character, a dedicated Rwandan, and a patriot and a committed pan-Africanist. She is also among the few people who strongly fight for the cause of women’s financial sustainability and development. I think we need someone of that caliber in that position. -- Lina Higiro, the chief executive at NCBA Bank Rwanda who knows Nsanzabaganwa professionally. She’s definitely highly intelligent, very well-researched and read, and passionate about women and women-led initiatives especially when it comes to financial empowerment. -- Bishop John Rucyahana, senior member of Unity Club who has worked closely with Nsanzabaganwa. She is the kind of person anyone would recommend for any position. Monique is a person anyone in this country would recommend for any job, not just continental but also global level. She’s one of the able, well-educated and hard-working people we have. I have no doubt Nsanzabaganwa will be very competent if not a leading figure among her colleagues.