25 April 2017

Africa: President Kagame Calls for Urgency in the Implementation of African Union Reforms

Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times
Presidents Kagame, Alpha Conde of Guinea (second-right) and Idriss Deby of Chad (right), and African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat in Conakry, Guinea, yesterday, during their meeting on the implementation of the AU reforms. The leaders jointly called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted in January this year in readiness for the rapid changes in the global context.

President Paul Kagame has called for urgency in the implementation of the African Union reforms adopted at the last African Union Summit in January this year.

The Head of State was speaking in Conakry, Guinea at the invitation of President Alpha Conde, the current Chairperson of the African Union. Alongside President Kagame were President Idriss Deby of Chad, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat.

Read President Kagame's full speech below:

Good morning. It is a pleasure to be back in Conakry.

I would like to begin by thanking our brother, President Conde, the Chairperson of our Union, for inviting us for this important consultation on the institutional reform of the African Union.

I also thank his predecessor, President Deby, for being with us today, and for having initiated this new chapter of reform.

As you know, under their dynamic leadership, the Assembly of Heads of State adopted a wide-ranging decision this past January that is going to make the African Union more relevant and fit-for-purpose. Under the leadership of President Deby, and now President Conde, we are seeing this take root.

Implementing these measures is critically important for Africa. We take it very seriously and this is why President Conde has brought us here today.

We intend to review the implementation timeline and ensure that the new Commission has the resources needed to move forward at full speed.

I am pleased to say that Chairperson Moussa is off to a good start. He has made reform a priority. As the Heads of State mandated to supervise the process, we stand ready to provide him and his team whatever support they need, as we continue the reforms as necessary.

Allow me to take this opportunity to remind you of the main components of the reforms, and most importantly the reasons why they were adopted.

First, the African Union will focus on key priorities with continental scope, while empowering Regional Economic Communities to take the lead where they are best placed to do so.

Second, re-align African Union institutions to deliver on those key priorities.

Third, connect the African Union more closely to citizens, so our people feel they have a stake in its work.

Fourth, manage the business of the African Union more efficiently and effectively, notably in how Summits are conducted and how personnel are selected.

Finally, finance the African Union sustainably from our own resources. Beyond the details, it's really about embedding a mindset in this institution of always striving to do the best for our people.

The basis for the urgency of these measures is clear. The global context is changing rapidly. Standing united, with a common vision of our continent's interests and aspirations, we can bend the trail of history in Africa's favour.

There are two priorities to focus on in the time ahead, leading up to the next Summit.

First, we need to accelerate the decision to finance the African Union with a levy on eligible imports. Everything else flows from this and we cannot afford to get bogged down.

The second priority is to move quickly with those reforms, which can be implemented right away.

One example is speaking with one voice, when Africa as a whole engages with external partners. Nobody benefits from the confusion inherent in the current method of doing business. The Chairperson of the Commission and the Chairperson of the African Union should take the lead.

Another example is to agree on a binding mechanism to ensure that Member States are held accountable for respecting key African Union decisions, such as the ones on financing and institutional reform.

These would be strong signals that we are serious about doing things differently.

The mood for change is already there and we have a clear roadmap. Let's capitalise on it, prioritise the next steps, and keep up the good momentum.

In that spirit, I look forward to welcoming Chairperson Moussa, as well as African Union Foreign Ministers and Permanent Representatives, in Kigali in early May for an extensive briefing on reform implementation.

Let's work together to shape the future we want for Africa.

I thank you.

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