Building capacity to help Africa trade better

A unified and assertive Africa Union will benefit everyone – Kagame


A unified and assertive Africa Union will benefit everyone – Kagame

A unified and assertive Africa Union will benefit everyone – Kagame
Photo credit: EALA

President Paul Kagame who is currently leading the African Union reforms process called for support towards the initiative noting that a more effective and efficient African Union is not only ideal for the continent but international partners as well.

Kagame was speaking at the Brookings Institution, a Washington DC based think tank which conducts research on topics such as economics, governance and foreign policy.

During the session moderated by Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly, a senior fellow at the Africa Growth Initiative, Kagame presented highlights of the African Union reforms process.

The reforms will put to an end decades long challenges such as over reliance and dependence on external donors which has seen little in serving members’ interests.

“A more effective African Union is not only good for Africa but for everybody else as well. You may know that the African Union is mostly financed by external partners. In fact, our programmes are in the range of 97 per cent donor-funded. This reality makes no sense for anyone involved. Africa’s interests, including ownership, get lost; and I doubt that the interests of donors are being adequately addressed either. It is also unsustainable,” he said.

Among the impact the reforms are set to have on a regional and international perspective, are better coordination in addressing security concerns, economic growth and improved international trade.

According to him, the process would however require stakeholders (including international partners) to make some adjustments on how they relate to the continent.

“This will require some accommodation and adjustment in terms of how we do business with each other, but it should be seen as a positive evolution, not a challenge to the existing order. A more unified and assertive Africa will, for example, mean improved coordination on common security challenges, where Africa already shoulders a significant share of the burden,” President Kagame said.

Integration of a common market which the process is set to achieve will among other benefits create growth opportunities for Africa and the rest of the world.

“Partners, such as the United States, would do well to take the long view, as Africa itself is doing,” he said.

Understanding the objectives of the reforms, he said will put to an end some efforts and attempts that have been seen to derail the process

“Efforts that we have seen to stall or even derail the reform process are counterproductive and should be reviewed. One concrete example is the attempt, through official channels, to characterise the 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports as a violation of World Trade Organisation commitments, which is not true,” he said.

Some international organizations and countries had early this year written to some AU member countries citing that the move is not compatible with international trade principles.

“What should never get lost is that we are working together in good faith, for the benefit of everyone, and with renewed determination, to build a more stable and prosperous world,” Kagame pointed out.

Progress so far

Sharing some progress in the process, the head of state said that a reform implementation unit has been established in the Office of the Chairperson of the African Union to drive implementation over the next year and a half.

The body has also instituted a mechanism to ensure that legally binding decisions are respected and honoured by AU member states.

Other advancements in the process include the implementation of the 0.2 per cent levy for eligible imports by over 10 countries while other prepare themselves by adjusting their country’s legal framework towards the levy’s implementation.

The reforms process are grouped into thematic areas including; focus on fewer priorities that are continental in scope, ensuring AU institutions are able to deliver against priorities and connect AU to its citizens.

Other aspects of the reforms include managing AU business efficiently (politically and operationally) and financing the African Union sustainably.


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