EDITORIAL: Attention given to AU reforms is most deserving

A two-day meeting by Heads of State and Government of the African Union will this Saturday begin in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa and will exclusively discuss how the pan-African body can be reformed to deliver better to citizens of the continent.

Some of the reforms to be considered include the constitution of the AU Commission especially the way in which commissioners are selected and how the commission is generally governed.

These reforms, which are contained in a report tabled before the General Assembly last year by President Paul Kagame who was assisted by a team of nine eminent Africans to put together, already received unanimous backing from the summit.

Now what remains is the implementation plan, which the Summit will thrash out this weekend during their meeting.

The reforms will also look at how best the Union can work with Regional Economic Communities to boost efficiency and avoid duplication of work, which is common under the current arrangement as there is clearly a disconnect.

The commission is, as suggested under the proposed reforms, to be revamped and meritocracy will reign over political expediency which will inevitably bolster accountability of the commission to the Heads of State Summit.

That the continental leaders are dedicating their entire two days to discuss how best to implement these crucial reforms is testimony enough of how serious the leaders take these reforms and how determined they are to see them through.

As they deliberate, our hope as Africans is that they come up with a clear implementation roadmap and that going forward; all member states own the reform process for the good of our continent.

We have already been there, some may argue. When the Organisation of African Unity was disbanded in 2002 to create the current African Union, there was a lot of hope.

However, 16 years down the road, the continental body still grappled with the same problem that inhibited the OAU for decades.

The good news is that the major cause of this malfunctioning seems to have been identified and this is the perpetual dependency on aid from outside the continent.

A remedy for this also seems to have been sought under the new reforms through the 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports by member states, which will go towards the running of the commission and its projects.

The shortcomings that afflicted the reformed AU are therefore a good reference point as lessons learnt to ensure the successful implementation of the new reforms.