30 January 2014

Uganda: Museveni Faces 'Embarrassment' Over Shs 4.5 Billion African Union Debt

Photo: African Union Commission
Arrival of the New Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

President Museveni might be denied a chance to address the African Union summit that kicked off today in Addis Ababa unless Uganda clears a Shs 4.5bn debt it owes the Africa body before the end of January.

Reliable sources in Addis Ababa said a report by the Permanent Representative Council (PRC) - which comprises all ambassadors based in Ethiopia - noted that Uganda had not met its contribution for the last two years.

The report, however, noted that Uganda pledged to honour its financial obligations before the end of January.

By the time we went to press, we could not readily establish whether Uganda had honoured its pledge.

Foreign Affairs ministry officials could not be reached by telephone. Uganda has arrears of $800,000 (Shs 2bn) for 2012 and $990,305 (Shs 2.47bn) for 2013, which totals to roughly $1.8m (Shs 4.5bn).

Sources told us that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU commission chairperson, has constantly complained about Africa Union's reliance on foreign aid to carry out its activities.

"She wants African countries to pay their dues and dig deeper into their coffers and stop relying on foreign aid," one of our sources said.

The AU's annual budget stands at $308m. Of this, $170m is funded from outside Africa while $138m comes from the 54 AU member countries. Sources said as a way to force countries to pay up, the AU usually imposed sanctions on the defaulting countries, including denying them a voice at the summit.

Museveni arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday for the 22nd ordinary summit of the AU. The two-day summit is being held under the theme, '2014: Year of Agriculture and Food Security, Marking 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme' (CAADP).

Not alone

Within the East African Community, only Rwanda and Burundi have cleared all their dues. Tanzania, like Uganda, owes the AU $1.8m while Kenya, the biggest economy in the region, is yet to clear a $3m debt. Libya has the highest unpaid bills. It owes AU $16m while Sudan's debt stands at $11m.

Each country in Africa, except South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria and Libya, has a certain percentage which they have to pay to the AU every year. These five countries, also called the P5 of the AU, each contribute 13.37 per cent of the AU budget.

The country with the least contribution to the AU is the Saharawi Republic which pays $15,500 a year. There are countries which have cleared all their dues. They include: Algeria, Botswana, Djibouti, Egypt, Liberia, Mauritius, DRC, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Swaziland, Guinea, Eritrea and Gambia.

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