Building capacity to help Africa trade better

32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicks-off


32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicks-off

32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union kicks-off
Photo credit: Dominic Chavez | World Bank

African nations are concerned with the theme of this year and through our collective efforts and actions we can win the fight against corruption, says AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) officially opened today at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat commended the quality work done by the Permanant Representatives’ Committee (PRC) with the view to establish appropriate conditions conducive to the success of this meeting of the Executive Council. He further commended the encouraging level of contribution to the Peace Fund aimed at consolidating peace efforts within the continent.

The AUC Chairperson expressed the hope that by 2020 AU will be able to finance itself at 100% if we maintain this trend of increasing interest by the Member States willing to contribute substantively on peace keeping in Africa. The Chairperson underlined that the AU Commission can pursue this commitment and resolution and will rely on Member States to support the trend of self-financing.

With reference to the theme of the year, Mr. Mahamat said that the stated figures in different reports of experts show that the resources deviated from Africa through corruption if they were to be invested in development will avert and avoid us to rely on external assistance which is only a support to the potential of the continent.

He added that the Report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows from Africa shows that corruption accompanied by the Illicit financial flows puts the loss of more than $50 billion a year. The Chairperson reiterated that all African nations are concerned with the theme of this year and through our collective efforts and actions we can win the fight against corruption.

On the issue of institutional reforms, the Chairperson said that the Reform Implementation Unit is already at work. A report to that effect is being examined following the Report of H.E. Paul Kagame to be presented during the Summit for consideration.

Chairperson Mahamat expressed satisfaction on the broad consensus on the need to insure financial independence through the application of 0.2% levy on eligible imports. He stressed that it is an issue of dignity and decision making sovereignty.

“Without its independence Africa is nothing. With its independence it can be everything,” added the Chairperson. Mr. Mahamat welcomed the Kigali decision regarding the financing of the Union by Ministers of Finance of 10 (which will become 15) to address the difficulties and ambiguities.

Finally, Mr. Mahamat announced that there are three (3) strategic flagship projects in the Agenda that will be launched during the Summit: The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA); The Free Movement of Persons and Goods; and Implementation of Yamoussoukro Decision on the Single Market and Liberalization of Air Transport in Africa. He said that all these projects call for political mobilization, expertise, talent, intelligence and motivation.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms. Vera Songwe, in her remarks, noted that the only lasting and winning formula for independence and for a transformed Africa is that we collectively conquer corruption as it is preventing sustainable development.

The Chairperson of the Executive Council, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Guinea, H.E. Mr. Mamadi Touré, thanked the AUC Chairperson for outlining the key focus areas for the Executive Council. He stressed the need for the Council to accelerate the implementation of the AU financing and the continental free trade area to expedite Africa’s self-reliance in order to improve living conditions.

The opening ceremony of the Executive Council meeting took place in the presence of former OAU Secretary Genral H.E. Salim Ahmed Salim, H.E. Mr. Thomas Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC), Commissioners of the AUC, AU Organs officials, representatives from the diplomatic corps, the international community, civil society, private sector, invited guests and the media among others.

In its deliberations over the coming two days, the Executive Council is expected to discuss the AU budget, review various reports, consider the draft decisions of the Assembly as well as prepare the agenda of the Assembly among other matters.

The Executive Council’s adoption of the various Decisions and Declarations would be forwarded to the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government holing at its 30th Ordinary Session Summit on 28-29 January 2018.

Fight against corruption critical for Africa’s sustainable development, says ECA’s Songwe

Corruption has held Africa back for far too long and it’s time to nip the scourge in the bud, says Ms. Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In a robust inaugural address to the 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council, Ms. Songwe said Africa’s economic potential can be unlocked by ending the cancer of corruption.

“The injustice of corruption brought to life within our institutions is more powerful than any other injustice we as Africans could face,” she said.

“But it is within our remit to repair this cancer, that is why I applaud the African Union for taking on this theme as the main battle cry of the union for the next year.”

The ECA Chief said the only logical and winning formula for true independence and for a transformed Africa was that the continent collectively conquered corruption.

“Where is the Africa we want when our youth do not believe their leaders and their institutions to deliver what they need most, when that social contract is broken,” Ms. Songwe asked.

“How can we get the Africa we want when women in rural Africa cannot get access to land and collateral to feed their families and ensure good health for their kids, because of corruption?”

She continued: “How can we get the Africa we want when we let billions leak out of the continent only to spend time begging for minimal sums because of corruption?”

“We are at a cross road – the youth are waiting, desperate and anxious for what path the leaders gathered here today will allow them to chart. That is why the topic of corruption or anti-corruption is so appropriate.”

The ECA Chief said the successful implementation of Agendas 2030 for sustainable development and 2063, Africa’s 50-year development plan, required substantial financial resources, most of which must be mobilized from within the continent.

“What this means is that the continent cannot afford to continue to suffer from the kinds of financial leakages it has had to contend with over the past several years through various forms of corrupt acts and practices,” said Ms. Songwe.

She added: “Placing the fight against corruption at the top of the agenda of our continental organization is a step in the right direction considering that nearly half of the population on the continent believes that our governments have either failed or been unable to properly address the complex and wide-ranging impacts of corruption on resource mobilization, resource allocation and development outcomes on the continent.”

Despite inroads, she said, corruption remained endemic - threatening the region’s transformation and sustainable development.

ECA efforts to help Africa combat graft

Ms. Songwe said the ECA has over the years worked with the African Union and the African Development Bank to design and support anti-corruption programs.

“We continue to support the APRM process and the work on Illicit Financial flows. We are also working increasingly with governments to improve their tax and customs processes,” she said.

ECA dedicated its fifth edition of its flagship report, the African Governance Report on the measurement of corruption, with a particular focus on the international dimensions of the scourge. Following this publication, ECA has partnered with the African Union’s Advisory Board on Corruption (AUABC) to initiate a conversation on developing an African-led and African focused measurement of corruption.

This has been within the framework of the longstanding collaboration between ECA and the AU Advisory Board on Corruption, which saw the two institutions develop and roll out a five-year anti-corruption program. The program produced a number of outputs including a Model Anti-Corruption Law, and a youth essay competition, intended to groom youth ambassadors to champion the fight against corruption on the continent.

“On behalf of the ECA team we pledge to support the African Union Commission and all the member states in enacting policies which could address the issue of corruption,” she said.

These includes working with member states to strengthen their legal and institutional frameworks in the fight against corruption; improving fiscal transparency and good financial governance, including improving the public procurement system, contract regime, tax system, and strengthening institutional audit and oversight capacity; supporting Citizens’ participation in areas like budget tracking and monitoring, performance of public enterprises, and the delivery of social services should be encouraged; and supporting the implementation of the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption including strengthening the capacity of the AU Advisory Board on Corruption.

African Union Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat emphasized the union was ready to tackled corruption, adding the Pan-Africa body should have financial independence. Ms. Songwe and Mr. Mahamat also spoke about AU reforms, self-financing and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).


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