Extraordinary Summit on AU Reforms begins with the aim “to make Africa stronger and give our people the future they deserve”
The supreme organ of the African Union, the Assembly, which comprises Heads of State and Government of all the 55 African countries, began its 11th Extraordinary Session today with a call to advance the institutional reform of the Union, as events on the continent, and across the world, continue to confirm the urgency and necessity of this project.
The Assembly meeting is the culmination of the AU’s statutory meetings, and was preceded by the meetings of the Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives Committee.
The Heads of State and Government’s Assembly meeting will consider and make decisions on:
Reform of the AU Commission (Structure and portfolios of the senior leadership of the Commission, Selection of the senior leadership of the Commission, Termination of the appointments of the senior leadership of the Commission, and administrative and financial reforms including performance management);
Mandate of the AU Development Agency (AUDA);
Strengthening of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM);
Division of labour between the African Union, RECs and regional Mechanisms, Member States and continental organisations.
The Assembly will also consider the Report of the Chairperson of the Executive Council on the Outcome of the 19th Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council, enlarged to the Ministers in charge of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and European Union (EU) Matters. Reports on the Pan-African Parliament and Judicial Organs, the AU Peace Fund and proposals on the New AU Scale of Assessment will also be presented.
While speaking during the opening session, the AU Commission Chairperson Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat noted the need for the AU Commission to have a greater degree of flexibility in administrative management, so as to enable it to respond more quickly and effectively to the situations.
The AUC Chairperson underlined the importance of enhanced accountability to the Member States and absolute transparency in the conduct of the affairs of the African Union. Mr. Mahamat concluded by emphasizing that it is equally important that the Summit consolidates the progress made on the financial front.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who is the Chairperson of the Union for 2018, summarized the purpose of the summit as “to advance the institutional reform of our Union. Events on our continent and across the world continue to confirm the urgency and necessity of this project. The goal is simple: To make Africa stronger and give our people the future they deserve”.
Addressing the reform of the African Union Commission, which is the secretariat of the AU, President Kagame noted that the reforms would make the Commission more effective and performance-based, now and in the future.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed also addressed the Assembly’s opening session. He highlighted that Union wide reforms were necessary, not just for the sake of initiating reforms, but because it is a must. Prime Minister Ahmed also emphasized that one of the reform initiatives that is of paramount importance is equal representation of women in key decision-making and leadership positions, which has been one of the key pillars of his reforms in Ethiopia.
A summary of the summit’s key decisions will be presented at the final press conference to be held at the end of proceedings on 18th November.
Opening Address by President Paul Kagame at the 11th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union
The purpose of this Extraordinary Summit is to advance the institutional reform of our Union. Events on our continent and across the world continue to confirm the urgency and necessity of this project. The goal is simple: To make Africa stronger and give our people the future they deserve.
I am pleased to note that we are very much on course. We have passed the halfway point and the end is in sight. But there is still very important work to do. Today the Assembly will consider detailed proposals for making the Commission itself more effective and performance-based, now and in the future. This goes straight to the heart of the Reform Decision.
We would not have reached this stage without extensive collaboration and consultation between the Executive Council and the Commission, with outstanding support from the Permanent Representatives Committee along the way.
Allow me to commend the Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Reform Implementation Unit for this important achievement, without forgetting the Member State representatives at every level who have ensured fidelity to the vision set forth by the Assembly. This is exactly how we should be conducting our business.
I wish to conclude with three final points.
Excellencies, je tiens à vous remercier. It was your unwavering support that brought Africa’s candidate to head the Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, to victory. This shows yet again that when we are united, nothing is impossible for Africa.
Second, we welcome the lifting of sanctions against Eritrea by the United Nations Security Council. This action will contribute to the ongoing process of normalisation in the Horn of Africa. Thanks to the leaders in this region, beginning with Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afeworki of Eritrea for their courageous actions, and the other leaders who worked with them.
Finally, I wish to extend, on behalf of the African Union, condolences to the governments and people of Malawi and Tanzania for this week’s tragic loss of their peacekeepers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen soldiers.
I should also mention that we wish our brother, President Ali Bongo, a quick recovery and continued stability for his country, Gabon.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention and look forward to a productive Summit.
Statement by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat
This Extraordinary Summit is indeed symbolic. This is the first time, in the long history of our Continental Organisation and the attempts at reform that have marked it, that a session is devoted exclusively to this issue.
The decision adopted last July, in Nouakchott, to convene this Summit is an expression of an even more acute awareness of the need for Africa to better adjust itself to the issues of the day at stake, internal to the Continent or related to the global environment.
Consequently, I would like to pay tribute to our Heads of State and Government for their commitment to this process. President Paul Kagame deserves all our gratitude for the sense of duty with which he carries out the mandate entrusted to him by his colleagues.
May I also welcome our host, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to the Headquarters of our Union. I thank him for the hospitality accorded to all the participants in this Summit and salute the proactiveness that characterises his leadership, precisely in matters of reform.
By meeting in this hall, named after an African icon, Nelson Mandela, we can congratulate ourselves on the progress made thus far. Without being exhaustive, I wish to mention the rationalisation of our working methods, the enhancement of coordination with the Regional Economic Communities, the better consideration of the gender and youth dimensions in the functioning of our Union and the steps taken on the path to financial autonomy.
It is certainly on this last point that our progress is most significant. It has been translated into an improved budgetary process, through the involvement of the Ministers of Finance, members of F15, a reduction in our dependence on international partners and a substantial increase in the contribution of the Member States to the Peace Fund.
In this regard, I am pleased to inform the Assembly of the convening of the inaugural meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Peace Fund, yesterday, at our Headquarters. Composed of personalities with remarkable career paths and representing the five Regions of our Continent, this Board is mandated to oversee the operations of the Fund.
In spite the achievement thus made, many of the projects initiated within the purview of the reform remain to be concluded. This is precisely the reason for convening this Summit.
The Permanent Representatives Committee and the Executive Council, which considered various aspects of the reform, have submitted a number of recommendations to your attention. I commend the seriousness and quality of the deliberations of these two organs.
In considering the recommendations made, it is desirable that your august body take into account the need for the African Union Commission to have a greater degree of flexibility in administrative management, to enable it respond, more expeditiously and effectively to the operational challenges related to the implementation of its responsibilities in the service of Member States. The counterpart to this increased room for action must, of course, be greater accountability to the Member States and absolute transparency in the conduct of the affairs of our Union.
It is equally important that the Summit consolidate the progress made at the level of the finance. The recommendations of the Executive Council on the strengthening of sanctions against States that are not up to date with their contributions to the budget of the Union open the way to more determined action in this area. In the same spirit, it is imperative that the process initiated for the determination of the new Scale of Assessment be finalised by February 2019, as proposed by the Executive Council.
Finally, this Summit affords us an opportunity to exchange views on other aspects of the reform, especially the enhancement of the effectiveness of the organs of our Union. The objective is to obtain your guidance to help the Reform Unit deepen the reflection, before submitting concrete proposals next February.
Institutional reform is an imperative need. It is, in fact, inseparable from the Founding Act of our Union.
It should be recalled that the African Union was established to accelerate the project of economic integration and political unity that is at the heart of Pan-Africanism. While respecting the sovereignty of our States, it is based on the premise that, in the world of today, these hard-won sovereignties can only be preserved if they are pooled.
The nature of our Union and the ambition of which Agenda 2063 is the emblem, therefore, demand that our Union constantly reinvents itself to adapt to its environment and stay its course.
This is the objective to which the various components of the reform contribute, namely:
the search for greater efficiency in our functioning;
the quest for financial autonomy, to pave the way for Continental renewal and full mastery of our destiny;
the establishment of a more symbiotic relationship with African citizens, whose daily lives we must improve; and
the imperative need to speak with one voice in the international arena.
Beyond the efforts on structures and procedures, reform is also, and above all, a matter of political will.
Indeed, the most fundamental aspect, the one that will change everything for the better, is the strength of the link that we establish between words and action, the diligence with which we implement the decisions adopted and the determination that drives us in the pursuit of the objectives laid down.
It is with such a frame of mind that we can translate the aspirations of Agenda 2063 into reality, whether it is to speed up integration, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Area, to silence the guns by 2020 or to assert our collective power on the international scene.
One of the agenda items of the Summit is precisely our relationship with the European Union in view of the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020.
The spirit of the reform and its demands for efficiency compel us to speak with one voice on this issue, bearing in mind that any agreement with the European Union must fall within the framework of the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy, adopted in Lisbon, in 2007 and the Declaration of the Abidjan Summit of last December. The Strategy and Declaration are the foundation for a Continent-to-Continent relationship, which serves as a lever for our objective of integration and strengthens our achievements.
In launching the reform, you have raised immense hope in Africa and beyond. The steps already taken confirm our belief that we are on the road to success.
Today, the circumstances call us to mobilise our energies even more and to find, in us, the necessary strength to reach the desired destination.
I thank you for your attention.