A retreat of the African Union Commission (AUC) opened in Kigali on Thursday to review the progress the continental body has made in implementing key reforms aimed at making the African Union more efficient.
The retreat, which brought together members of the AU Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC); AU organs and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) was officially opened at Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) by Prof. Nshuti Manasseh, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the AUC chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamati.
Prof. Nshuti, who represented the Government of Rwanda, reiterated the importance of the continental body continuing with the implementation of the reforms initiated by President Paul Kagame in 2016, to meet the ambitions and expectations of the people.
In his address, Prof. Nshuti said that the reforms date back to 2016 when President Kagame was tasked to lead a team of eminent people to come up with key reforms within the AU structures.
“The goal of the reform process was to ensure they increase performance, efficiency and effectiveness within the AU systems, in carrying out our development initiatives programmes that are in line with the first 10-year implementation plan of the Agenda 2063,” Minister Nshuti.
He pointed out that under the leadership of the Faki, the AUC has regularly shared updates on the ongoing institutional reforms and it indicates progress, currently at 70 percent, though the continent can do better.
Prof. Nshuti reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to supporting the implementation process by playing her part, as expected with other countries, if the AU is to be an effective and efficient body as many Africans wish to see it.
He pointed out that the reforms go beyond how the commission operates but rather how the entire structure of the AU functions, to how it delivers to Africans and the role it plays in the international community.
The AUC chairperson pointed commended Rwanda for hosting the retreat and paid tribute to President Kagame for particularly following up on the reform exercise, which he was the initiator, and ensuring that decisions are implemented.
He pointed out that the retreat will be an opportunity to take stock review the progress, the contribution of countries to the decisions which were made by the reform committee, what is working and what is not.
“By agreeing to host the retreat which opens here in Kigali today, President Kagame is once again demonstrating his firm commitment to bringing the process to a conclusion,” reiterating that it is in Kigali that the reforms were initiated in July 2016 and there can’t be a better place to review progress.
“It was here in Kigali, in July 2016, that the Heads of State and Government, meeting in ordinary session, decided to initiate an in-depth reform of the institutions of the African Union. This decision followed the observation of the Union’s quasi-financial roadmap established at that time,”
“Determined to save the African Union from the financial disaster that loomed on the horizon, the Heads of State decided to increase their participation in the Union budget by adopting a predictable financing mechanism for this budget,” the AUC chair said.
Under the reforms, the heads of state instituted a levy of 0.2% on eligible import receipts which member states would remit to the AU as part of efforts to end dependency on donors.
Faki said that the leaders identified dysfunctional as well as many other loopholes in operations that rendered the AU ineffective and President Kagame led the process to identify all the weakness and come up with a solution.
He said that for the first time in the history of the AU, the continental body is moving towards financial autonomy while major changes have been done within the institution, including downsizing staff and members of certain bodies to cut costs.
“This institutional architecture has proven itself. Beyond the few delays observed for various reasons, it is clear that, for the first time in the history of the African Union, a reform decided by the Heads of State and Government is producing concrete and convincing results,”
“Indeed, a quick glance at the tangible results achieved over the past five years suffices to illustrate my point. At the institutional level, the African Union Commission has seen its size reduced by going from ten members to eight while preserving the perfect gender equality which is its hallmark on the international scene,”
The retreat discussed ways of repositioning the organization to ensure it has the requisite institutional capacity to deliver on the economic, political, and social vision of the continent as encapsulated Agenda 2063.
The reform agenda emphasizes on the need to focus on key priorities with a continental scope; realigning AU institutions to deliver on its objectives; operational efficiency, and sustainable self-financing the Union.
The retreat also discussed the second ten-year plan of Agenda 2063 spans 2024 to 2033. Agenda 2063 was adopted by the 24th Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa in January 2015.
The Agenda embodies the aspirations of the African people, framed in a collective ambition of “The Africa We Want in 2063”. The Agenda is operationalized through 5 ten-year implementation plans, with the first plan straddling 2014 to 2023.
The second decade of Agenda 2063 implementation is one of acceleration, building on the first that focused on convergence.