Rwanda President Paul Kagame has urged the swift implementation of reforms of the African Union for a resilient and stronger continent.
“It is important that we don’t waste this opportunity to learn lessons and apply what we have learned, see ” said Kagame.
“Wherever you look—North, medical South, East, West, Central—there is an unmistakable momentum for us to build on. The mood is right and Africans clearly want something to come out of this effort. They are waiting for leaders to take us in the right direction.”
The Heads of State took a decision last year to finance the African Union from their own resources.
This move prompted renewed interest in completing the ongoing institutional reforms of the African Union, and in January the Assembly adopted a wide-ranging decision to make the African Union fit-for-purpose in this rapidly changing world.
Assisted by a Pan-African Advisory Team, presented a report to the Assembly ideas to facilitate AU’s financial independence.
Addressing the Consultative Meeting on African Union Reforms in Kigali, Rwanda, on Sunday, Kagame said the “The road ahead is long, and at times it may be even uncomfortable. But there is no easy switch to flip. It requires us to work together closely, because the African Union represents us all.”
One of the ideas is speaking with one voice, when Africa as a whole engages with external partners.
Another example is agreeing on a binding mechanism to ensure that Member States are held accountable for respecting key African Union decisions, such as the ones on financing and institutional reforms.
The proposed AU reforms also include focusing on priority such as peace and security, economic integration and Africa’s global representation.
The experts’ also suggested division of labour between the AU, regional economic blocs, regional mechanisms (such as Igad), member states and other continental institutions, in line with the principle of subsidiarity.
Relying on his experience as the Rwandan leader, Kagame stressed the need to “overcome the mindset of sitting back and waiting for rescue” and cultivating a positive attitude in the face of adversity.
“If the mentality is to look for stumbling blocks, you will surely find lots of them, and the end result is that goals are never accomplished. So instead of finding reasons to do nothing, look for what should compel us to act,” said Kagame.
“The decisive factor here was therefore changing our mindset from dependence to ownership, and from “we can’t” to “we can”. That is an asset that cannot be imported. We all have it within us in all our countries,” he emphasised.
“It is no different with the job we have for Africa, which brings me to the task of implementing these two critically important decisions on financing and institutional reform.”
Kagame gave the example of the 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to African countries.
“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,” he noted.
“The levy is the formula we 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 also called for complementarity between the Permanent Representatives Committee in Addis Ababa and the African Union Commission, which he said would the “best way to be productive in terms of achieving the goals of our continent.”
The meeting was attended by African Foreign Ministers, Ambassadors on of African Union Reforms.