Kenyan President William Ruto has of recent been outspoken on the plight of African leaders at the hands of counterparts from the so-called developed world, saying that at times they are treated like ‘school children’ when they attend international meetings to which they are invited. His latest comments were made on Wednesday while addressing the South Africa-based Pan African Parliament where he said that it was not right for a single leader from one developed country to summon over 50 African Heads of State for a meeting which he said will most likely end up being a photo op. Ruto has suggested that the African Union Commission should be empowered enough to represent the continent at such meetings instead of having dozens of Presidents at meeting where they are given a minute or so to speak. These are valid points and the sooner African leaders adopt this the better. However, in order to demand respect from the rest of the world, there is need to start from somewhere. In 2016, African Heads of State, while meeting in Rwanda, adopted what has popularly been referred to as the Kigali Decision on Financing the Union, which would see the AU Commission gain economic independence. ALSO READ AU sets $1.2 billion self-financing target Among the raft of strategies taken included the establishment of a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports from member states to enable the African Union to finance itself in the long term. However, seven years after the Kigali decision, the commission still relies on donor funding to finance its activities, with available information on the AU website indicating that over 40 per cent of Member States do not pay their annual contributions. As a result, Africa will still run to the same countries where its leaders are summoned and at times lectured because these countries actually meet the AU’s financial needs, including the crucial peace and security component. Needless to say, the same countries still rely on donor funding to fund their domestic budgets. This situation will therefore be salvaged by the financial independence of the Union, and this can only be achieved if the Kigali Decisions are implemented to the letter. There is also need for Africans to continue looking inwards for solutions to challenges faced and available opportunities. A good example is the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which, once fully implemented, will make the continent the largest trading bloc in the world. ALSO READ Trade in services to begin under AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative Africa is therefore not short of solutions to make herself count in the global arena, but what still lacks is the goodwill of the political class to implement the decisions they take.