President Paul Kagame, his AU reform advisory team and close to 40 African Ministers of Foreign Affairs met on Monday in Kigali to discuss the implementation of the African Union (AU) reforms adopted in January 2017.
In July 2016, at the 27th African Union Summit, AU member states entrusted President Kagame with the mandate to lead the African Union reforms to enable it to better meet its mission’s goal and truly serve African citizens.
In January, the proposed reforms were accepted by all Heads of State and Government.
The reforms aim to make the AU more efficient politically, operationally and financially, so that the organisation is better positioned to meet its mandate to member states and African citizens.
The African leaders made several commitments, the first one being to focus on key priorities to ensure that the AU efforts are not dispersed and that the AU is focused on priorities that will make a real difference to African citizens. This will also enable a clear division of labour between the AU and member states.
Secondly, it was agreed to realign the AU institutions to deliver on these priorities and ensure that the Union Commission structures, organs, and specialised technical agencies focus on the agreed priorities.
Another objective is to manage the AU efficiently at both political and operational levels, to allow the members to create an efficient and effective Commission staffed by the best African professionals. This would also strengthen the working methods of the AU Summit to improve the quality and impact of decision-making whilst ensuring the timely implementation of Assembly decisions; and
Last but not least, mechanisms have to be found to finance the AU sustainably by strengthening its financial management and accountability.
Addressing the Ministers as well as the chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and AU Commissioners, Kagame warned that implementing the reforms might not be easy.
“The road ahead is long, and at times it may be even uncomfortable. But there is no easy switch to flip,” he said. “It requires us to work together closely, because the African Union represents us all.”
“It is important that we don’t waste this opportunity to learn lessons and apply what we have learned. Wherever you look – North, South, East, West, Central – there is an unmistakable momentum for us to build on. The mood is right and Africans clearly want something to come out of this effort. They are waiting for leaders to take us in the right direction,” Kagame added.
He further pointed out that Rwanda could serve as an example for the implementation of the AU reforms.
“The Rwanda you find today is not a miracle; it is the result of lots of hard work, and it began by coming together as a nation and deciding that we were never going to go back to that darkness,” he said. “Having resolved to change our circumstances, two things became very important as we struggled to turn our aspirations for a new Rwanda into reality.”
“The first was to overcome the mindset of sitting back and waiting for rescue. Doing so involved becoming aware of the substantial means we already have, both in our soil and much more importantly in our people, our heads. With these resources, we found we had more than enough to get started,” he explained. “The second was to cultivate a positive attitude in the face of adversity. If the mentality is to look for stumbling blocks, you will surely find lots of them, and the end result is that goals are never accomplished. So instead of finding reasons to do nothing, look for what should compel us to act.”
He stressed the importance of changing the mindset from dependence to ownership. “That is an asset that cannot be imported. We all have it within us in all our countries,” Kagame observed. “It is no different with the job we have for Africa.”