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Kagame tells AU: Reform or perish

President Paul Kagame says Africa has to mobilise its own resources to finance activities of the African Union Commission and not depend almost entirely on money from donors.

The President presented the proposal as part of reform proposals of the African Union (AU) to fellow Heads of State and Government at a retreat in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where the imposing AU headquarters was donated and built by the Chinese.

The pitch was part of the recent 28th session of the AU and the outcome of an assignment the President was handed by his fellow leader in 2016. President Kagame worked with a nine-member committee to come up with the recommendation. On his team was  Mariam Mahamat Nour; the Minister of Economy, Planning, and International Cooperation of Chad, Cristina Duarte; the former Minister of Finance and Planning of Cape Verde, Amina Mohammed; the former Nigerian Minister of Environment, and Vera Songwe; the Regional Director for West and Central Africa at the International Finance Corporation. They had up to 2018 to complete the task.

The President arrived in Addis Ababa on Jan.28 and first chaired the AU steering committee to prepare the recommendations for reform of AU. The recommendations were later presented to and discussed with fellow Heads of State during a Heads of State retreat.

This year the AU Summit was held under the theme of “harnessing demographic dividend through investments in youth.”

Speaking in an afternoon session, the President also proposed establishment of a governance system with a mandate and capability to resolve AU affairs. He said the committee will manage the AU efficiently at both political and operational levels.

President Kagame said this would tackle the chronic failure to see through African Union decisions and avoid the current crisis over failure to implement decisions. Kagame said the AU has to identify its priority areas and ensure its institutions work to deliver them. He said the failure to implement created a perception that the AU irrelevant.

“We cannot leave implementation of institutional reforms to chance or treat it as routine. Both in the Assembly of Heads of State and the AU Commission, the responsibility for delivery of the reform agenda must be clearly assigned,” he said.

According to the AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha, “AU must carry all operational costs, 75% of development programs and 25% of peace and security with its own resources”.

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