What will African Union reforms seek to address?

The African Union reforms proposal to be presented to Heads of State next week on Tuesday, will seek to rationalize the activities of the Union to address issues of duplication of efforts as well as coherence in working with partners.
Delegates during the AU Summit in Kigali last year. / File.
Delegates during the AU Summit in Kigali last year. / File.

The African Union reforms proposal to be presented to Heads of State next week on Tuesday, will seek to rationalize the activities of the Union to address issues of duplication of efforts as well as coherence in working with partners.

During the 2016 AU summit held in Kigali, the participating heads of state requested President Paul Kagame to foresee the restructuring process to make the organization cost effective and impactful in addressing Africans’ concerns.

 

In the months following the decision, Kagame put together a reform steering committee made up of eminent persons from across the continent.

 

Giving an insight into the anticipated restructuring, the deputy Chairperson of the African Union, Erastus Mwencha, said yesterday the reforms process will, among other goals, aim at ensuring there is coherence in AU working together with partners and regional economic communities.

 

He was addressing a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the sidelines of the ongoing AU Summit.

According to Mwencha, the Union hopes to deepen cooperation with organs such as the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa as well as regional integration communities such the East African Community.

“It will look at how we rationalise our Union to address issues and concerns on duplication of efforts and programmes as well as disbursement of resources to make sure that there is synergy and effective implementation at the regional level,” Mwencha said.

He added that African Heads of State are on Sunday expected to convene for a retreat where they will consider aspects of the reforms and deliberate on the proposal at length.

The reforms come at a time when the African Union has been blamed for not being efficient and effective enough in addressing major concerns in the continent.

Among the concerns is lack of adequate cooperation and cohesion between regional blocs and partners in the implementation of development programmes leading to the replication of efforts.

Mwencha also spoke on the new self-financing mechanism adopted during the AU summit held in Kigali last year.

He said that though the mechanism will take longer than expected to implement as a number of countries have asked for additional time, it is more reliable and predictable compared to what is in place now.

The mechanism, which will raise funds through a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports in all the member countries, is expected to raise about $1.2 billion every year.

At the moment, only five countries are ready to implement the mechanism with Rwanda among them.

Others that are ready include Ethiopia, Kenya, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mwencha said that the formula is equitable as opposed to the current system where five countries contribute about 75 per cent of the total funds from AU member states.

He admitted that the unpredictability of the African Union funding has exposed the body to several challenges, especially when it comes to meeting financial obligations to the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia.

The funds raised through the new mechanism will be earmarked for: 100 per cent financing of operational activities of the Union, 75 per cent of all development programmes, and 25 per cent of peace keeping operations.

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