President Paul Kagame has expressed his backing for a second term for the incumbent African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and his support for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) top job.
President Kagame expressed his backing for the two candidates during the 2nd African Union Mid-year Coordination Meeting which was held on Thursday, chaired by the AU chairperson and President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his remarks, President Kagame backed the President of Chad, Idris Deby, who has fronted his countryman Faki for a second stint at the continental body. Faki was elected to the position in January 2017, after defeating his main rival, Amb. Amina Mohamed of Kenya.
“I wanted to join the President of Chad, my brother President Déby, in support of Moussa Faki, who has come back as the candidate running for chair of our African Union Commission,”
“I also join in support of Dr Ngozi as the candidate for the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation,” President Kagame said during the virtual meeting.
Dr Ngozi, 66, is facing off with South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee, the duo having made it to the final run-off for the WTO top post. The winner will be announced before November 7.
She served as Nigeria’s Finance and Foreign Affairs Minister and also worked with the World Bank and other global institutions in her 25-year political career littered with successes. The economist has been favoured to win the position, which if she wins, will become the first African candidate to lead the global trade body.
During the 2nd Mid-Year Coordination Meeting, President Kagame said that it was an important milestone for the continent, commending President Ramaphosa and Chairperson Moussa Faki, along with the staff of the AU Commission, for leading the activities of the continental body despite the challenges brought about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Chairperson, you have led the Bureau of our organisation very ably through a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” Kagame said of Ramaphosa.
“These efforts, undertaken in close collaboration with the African Union Commission under the outstanding leadership of Moussa Faki Mahamat, have undoubtedly strengthened Africa’s global position,” he added.
Going forward, President Kagame said that forging more productive partnerships between Africa and the world will be very important for all involved.
“We cannot afford to continue with business as usual. The process to redefine the Africa-Europe — or Africa-Asia, or Africa-China, or Africa-Russia — relationship is one example among other areas of the world,”
“It starts at the regional level and builds to the continent as a whole,” he said.
As the sitting chair of the East African Community (EAC), President Kagame said that the regional bloc has made good progress in recent years, despite current challenges.
“I am pleased to report that the East African Community continues to make good progress in implementing the Single Customs Territory and the Common Market Protocol,”
“Numerous non-tariff barriers have been eliminated, and 13 One-Stop Border Posts are operational in the Community, including one linking Tanzania and Zambia. The past year also saw the launch of a major effort to produce harmonised, high-quality statistics for our East African region,” Kagame said.
He said that the EAC also cooperated to develop protocols to maintain the flow of trade in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing a regional electronic tracking system for truck drivers which is now operational, as one of the examples.
He said that the tracking system allows partner states to have a mutual recognition of testing certificates issued by each country.
“These strides position the East African Community to contribute effectively to the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area and maximise the benefits of this historic agreement,”
“Defining the division of labour between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities is a key element of the institutional reform process,” he said.
The head of state said that since 2018, the bureau published several progress reports and it is time to bring this work to a conclusion.
“The objective need not be a detailed rulebook, but rather clarity about how our continental institutions should synchronise planning activities and coordinate action,”
“This framework is essential for mobilising resources and avoiding duplication of effort. I urge the Commission and Member States to accelerate the consultations on the division of labour so that this important document may be presented to the Assembly at the next Summit,” He said.