AU – Towards financial independence, self-sufficiency

African leaders are meeting next week to chart the continent’s development agenda, including deliberation on the implementation modalities on how to ensure financial independence and self-sufficiency of the Africa Union.

The 25th Ordinary Assembly of African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government is set for 7-15 June in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to the AU Commission, one of the key issues for discussions is the need for Africa to finance its own development agenda and not rely too much on foreign support.

For example, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the AU’s budget comes from international partners, most notably the United States and European Union.

This situation has resulted in the partners dictating policies to the AU, which at times are not beneficial towards deepening continental integration in Africa.

As such, the African leaders agreed at their last summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January to put in place measures at ensuing that the AU is self-sufficient.

These measures include levying taxes on plane tickets, hotels and text messages as alternative sources of financing for the AU.

It is hoped that these measures will raise about US$600 million a year, and over five years, it is expected that the AU will be able to pay the bulk percentage of its costs using its own funds.

Since the last summit, countries have been working on the implementation modalities of these measures, and the forthcoming summit is thus expected to consider the proposals.

Another major issue for deliberation will be the first 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063 – a continental framework adopted by the AU in 2013 to enable the continent to fully exploit its resources for the benefit of its people.

This is in realization of the fact that African countries continue to be among the poorest in the world despite having abundant natural resources.

Agenda 2063 will be implemented in rolling plans of 25 years, 10 years, and five years, as well as short-term action plans.

The leaders will also consider a report of the Peace and Security Council on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa.

Some of the countries experiencing instability on the continent include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and South Sudan.

On health issues, the summit will receive an update from the AU Commission on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

It will review the work of the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), which was deployed in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in September 2014.

ASEOWA was the first manifestation of the recently created African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) launched in July 2012 by the AU to mobilize support from within the continent for countries emerging from conflict or facing emergencies.

One of the main objectives of ASI is to deepen the essence of African solidarity and promote a paradigm shift which centres African mutual assistance as a key dimension for enhanced and effective development of the continent and to encourage, motivate, and empower African countries to offer support to countries emerging from conflict or facing emergences.

At the summit, African leaders will also consider a report of the Commission on Maternal, New Born and Child Health, which aims to make child-bearing safer for women and improve healthcare.

Improvement of healthcare is among the eight goals set by the Millennium Development Goals to advance the general socio-economic conditions in the world, particularly in developing countries.

Significant progress has been made by Africa to improve healthcare, particularly for women. However, a lot more still needs to be done to ensure child-bearing is safer for women.

The summit, whose theme is “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, is expected to encourage more countries to speed up the process of achieving gender parity and equality in decision-making at all levels.

Prior to the AU Summit, senior and technical officials will meet, followed by a preparatory meeting of the Council of Ministers.

African leaders meet twice a year to track progress on continental programmes.

The first meeting is usually held in January/February at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa while the second is set for June/July in any of the member states.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is the current AU chairperson. In his inaugural address to the summit in January, President Mugabe clearly set his goals, saying deeper African integration could only be achieved if member states implement agreed programmes and activities.

“We call for renewed boundless zeal, commitment and dedication in implementing programmes and projects that we have set for ourselves in various political, social, economic and security sectors,” he said.  – sardc.net

June 2015
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