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Rwanda meeting pushes for 2% levy to finance African Union

Kagame speaks at the Consultative Meeting on African Reforms held in Kigali on Sunday. PHOTOS Presidency | RwandaRwanda President Paul Kagame has said the African Union (AU) decision to take steps to ensure self-financing  and institutional reform, are important opportunities for a total transformation of the continental body.

“I think it’s high time we Africans take full responsibility for our affairs, and we’ve got to do it right. This cannot in any way justify any wrong things we might do,” Kagame told a consultative meeting on AU Commission reforms attended by foreign ministers and AU bureaucrats.

The meeting in Kigali on Sunday, comprised members of the African Union Permanent Representative Council (PRC) and the Executive Council.

“If we are doing anything wrong, we have got to attend to that as well and correct it. But we can’t allow the issue of external factors trying to interfere with our situation to cover up for our wrongs. We have got to do it the right way,” Kagame told the ministers and officials from across the continent. He was mainly speaking off-the-cuff (speech and video from PaulKagame.com below)

Kagame has been mandated by the assembly to lead the institutional reforms process of the African Union Commission,  and among the proposals is to levy 2% on imports to help self finance the continental body. Currently, the AU depends on the European Union mainly to finance its activities.

The new mechanism drafted by former African Development Bank President Dr. Donald Kaberuka will enable countries finance the AU Commission by 100 per cent, AU projects by 75 per cent as well as finance 25 per cent for peacekeeping operations across the continent. Currently African countries can only finance a third of this budget, with the rest coming from donors.

Kaberuka speaking in Kigali on Sunday.

The financing mechanism would see a levy of 0.2 % on all eligible imports that would be automatically channeled to central banks of the 54 member states and then dispatched to the AU Commission. It is expected to generate US$ 1.2 billion annually as African nations try to distance themselves from external funders and donors.

Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat (left) and President Paul Kagame (right)

Kagame’s rallying call

Flanked by the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Kagame said the reform proposals can help transform the organisation into a self-reliant continental body by 2018.

“It is painful to keep talking about the Africa we have today, when we are aware of where we could be, had we taken action long ago. We cannot be given peace, prosperity, independence, and dignity by anyone else. It is we, we ourselves, to do it,” he said.

“Let me take the example of the 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports. This is first and foremost a choice to no longer be dependent on outsiders. That is the principle at stake. It’s really about the value we attach to being effective and self-reliant as an organisation and as a continent.”

Kagame said the levy is the formula his team came up with to assure our independence as Africans. “If there are any problems with it, let’s improve on the technicality instead of sacrificing the principle,” he urged the officials.

“In a sense our gathering today is just about looking each other in the eyes and saying, you know what, who have we been waiting for to do all these things for us? In the end, we have only been waiting for ourselves.

FULL SPEECH

President Kagame Addresses African Foreign Ministers by The Independent Magazine on Scribd

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