African Continental Free Trade Area Launch: Opportunities and Challenges

Last update: 7 July 2019

In this blog, I am sharing 7 takeaways from the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area, held in Niger on the 7th July 2019, but also some possible pitfalls that may obstruct or delay the implementation of the AfCFTA in Africa.

The idea of the an Africa Free trade area was first raised by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the then President of Ghana, during his famous speech at the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the 25th May 1963 in Addis Ababa, as part of his proposed business plan for African integration. In 2013, the African Union launched Agenda 2063 with 14 flagship projects including the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Adopted in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018, the negotiated framework has entered into force on the 30th May 2019 and officially launched during a special Summit of Heads of State of the African Union in Niamey, Niger this 7th July 2019. As of today, 54 out of the 55 African Union Member States have signed the Treaty and 27 of them have ratified it, the latest being Nigeria and Benin at the launch ceremony of the operationalization phase of the Treaty. Eritrea is now the only African country that has not signed the Treaty. The launch of the AfCFTA  is probably the most important concrete step in the African integration project since the setting up of the OAU and its replacement of the AU.

7 Key Takeaways from the AU Summit:

AU Summit

  • Trading under the AfCFTA will commence on the 1st July 2020
  • Ghana has been chosen to host the continental Secretariat of the AfCFTA
  • 7th July will be officially celebrated as the Day of African Integration in commemoration of the historic operationalization launch of the AfCFTA
  • The following 5 operational instruments of the AfCFTA have been negotiated, adopted and launched together with the AfCFTA operationalization phase: A/The Portals of The Rules of Origin, B/The Online Negotiating Portal , C/The Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers, D/The Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) and E/ The African Trade Observatory Dashboard.
  • The 2nd phase of the negotiations should end in December 2020 and the documents will be submitted to the AU Assembly for adoption. Phase 2 issues are investment, competition policy, and intellectual property rights. These will provide important complement to the Phase 1 issues of trade in goods and services.
  • AfCFTA aims to progressively reduce and eliminate customs duties and non-tariff barriers on goods. The goal is for 90% of products to have a zero duty across the continent. 6 countries have been allowed for 85% only for the first 15 years.
  • Afreximbank committed to support the AfCFTA with 25 Billion USD mostly for the establishment of the online payment platform which will result in 5 Billion USD savings in transaction costs annually.

About the African Continental Free Trade Area

AfCFTA pic

The Treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area aims to 1/ Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, therefore, pave the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union, 2/ Expand intra-Africa trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization, facilitation regimes and instruments across the continent, 3/ Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes , 4/Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources in Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area then provides an opportunity to promote policies and resources that could create conditions for harnessing Africa demographic dividend in the context of creating space for jobs, especially for the youth and economic diversification. This requires attention to expediting domestic capital formation and using capital market strategies to drive the creation and expansion of small and medium enterprises involving youth ownership.

If genuinely implemented, the AfCFTA will provide a framework to ease the cost of doing business within Africa. It will aggregate the very fragmented African market but will the continent quickly address non-tariff barriers, such as infrastructure backlogs, border corruption, heavy bureaucracy, poor communication means etc? Above all do we have enough to trade among ourselves with this ambitious trade agreement while our economies are mostly alike and largely dominated by the exportation of raw material? To take full advantage of the AfCFTA African leaders should deliberately and aggressively invest in industrialization without waiting. An initial focus should be on agriculture and agro-industry development.

If fully ratified, the AfCFTA will open the largest free trade zone in the world with a combined GDP of around $3 Trillion and more than 1.2 billion consumers. AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, which is less than 17% (70% in Europe, 50% in Asia). The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated that intra-Africa trade would likely increase to 52.3 % by 2020 due to the AfCFTA.

Pitfalls that may threaten the implementation of the AfCFTA

The implementation of the AfCFTA is not going to be as easy as it looks in a continent currently fragmented in several economic/trade zones with a poor business infrastructure and with the existing numerous trade agreements with outside partners. The following issues are some of the gray areas that may delay the implementation of the AfCFTA beyond the July 2020 target date:

  • The treaty on free movement of people adopted even before the AfCFTA treaty is not attracting ratification from member states. As of end of June 2019 only 3 countries have ratified it. How can we trade without being able to move freely within the continent?
  • Will poorer countries with insufficient natural resources and landlocked benefit from the AfCFTA the same as mineral-rich countries that are in an advanced stage of industrialization? For example about 50% of Africa’s cumulative GDP is contributed by Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa only. Without a compensation mechanism for poorer and disadvantaged countries, will the argument of benefits from free trade be convincing for all? There is a need for comprehensive policy-preferential treatment for the most at-risk economies. As we move, Member sates should then build an efficient and participatory institutional architecture to avoid leaving some economies behind.
  • How will the 90% tariff line rule fairly apply if – as it is the case in some countries – a single product (oil, coffee, cocoa for example) represents more than 70% of all the country’s exportation?
  • What will happen to the existing specific and competitive  bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between African countries and current outside partners such as the European Union?

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African Union Summit in Niger: Historic Rendezvous!

Last update: 1st July 2019

The African Union Heads of State will hold an extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on the 7th July 2019 in Niamey, Niger. The Summit will be dedicated to the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA as well as its operational instruments.

The extraordinary Summit will be held in the margins of the inaugural session of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities (8th July) that replaces the previous mid-year AU Summit, as decided within the framework of the ongoing African Union reform.

The Executive Council of the AU (Ministers of Foreign Affairs) will have its ordinary session on the 4th & 5th July on the same occasion deliberate on important documents and reports of AU organs including most likely the 2020 budget of the Union the legal documents of the new African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the theme of the year 2020 among other things.

In this personal blog I am sharing an overview of the key items on the Agenda of these important gatherings, the outcome of which would be a big step toward the  implementation of the Agenda 2063, the Africa we want.

The Launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area: What Expectations?

The Treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area aims to 1/ Create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, therefore, pave the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union, 2/ Expand intra-Africa trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization, facilitation regimes and instruments across the continent, 3/ Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes , 4/Enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources in Africa.

The African Continental Free Trade Area then provides an opportunity to promote policies  and resources that could create conditions for harnessing Africa demographic dividend in the context of creating space for jobs, especially for the youth and economic diversification. This requires attention to expediting domestic capital formation and using capital market strategies to drive the creation and expansion of small and medium enterprises involving youth ownership.

If genuinely implemented, the AfCFTA will provide a framework to ease the cost of doing business within Africa. It will aggregate the very fragmented African market  but,… will the continent quickly address non-tariff barriers, such as infrastructure backlogs, border corruption, poor communication means etc? Above all I am also wondering if we have enough to trade among ourselves with this ambitious trade agreement while our economies are mostly alike and largely dominated by the exportation of raw material. To take full advantage of the AfCFTA African leaders should deliberately and aggressively invest in industrialization without waiting. An initial focus should be on agriculture and agro-industry development.

The Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) entered into force on 30th May 2019 for the 24 countries that ratified it. 52 of the 55 AU Member states signed the AfCFTA. Only Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria have not signed the Treaty. If fully ratified, the AfCFTA will open the largest free trade zone in the world with a collective GDP of over $3 trillion and more than 1.2 billion consumers. AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade, which accounts roughly for 17% only of all the continent’s exports. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated that intra-Africa trade would likely increase to 52.3 % by 2020 due to the AfCFTA.

The Extraordinary Summit

Hotel Niamey

Beside the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA, the AU Summit’s delegations to be hosted in the newly built Radisson Blu Hotel of Niamey are expected to launch the following operational instruments of the treaty.

  • Rules of Origin Portal
  • Tariff Concession Portals
  • Portal on Monitoring and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers
  • Digital Payments and Clearing System
  • African Trade Observatory Dashboard

The Niamey Summit will surely be one of the most attended  AU Summit by Heads of State and other personalities in recent time.  Special guests will likely include the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevêdo, the Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Dr.  Mukhisa Kituyi, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) Professor  Benedict Okey Oramah, the Executive Director of International Trade Center Dr. Arancha Gonzalez, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica among others.

The Summit will also consider and approve a set of other decisions coming from the Executive Council as part of the reform of the African Union.

On the Agenda of the Executive Council

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs will most likely discuss and eventually make decisions on the following:

  • The legal instruments of the new African Union Development Agency – NEPAD including the statutes and the rules of procedures of its governing structures
  • The new statutes of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)
  • AU budget for 2020: the current draft budget is around 647 Million USD, more than 60% of which will be paid by external partners
  • The Theme of the year 2020. The current proposal is:“Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”
  • The Implementation of Agenda 2063
  • The African Court on Human and People’s Rights
  • The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
  • The Challenges and Ratification/Accession and Implementation of the OAU/AU Treaties and decisions

In addition the Council will consider the agenda, working documents and expected outcomes of the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities.

Discussions and decisions on the new departmental structure of the AU Commission in the framework of the African Union reform will likely be differed  to the February 2020 Summit.

Several side events are also on the Summit agenda.

The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities: The way forward toward Effectiveness and Efficiency?

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From now on, according to a decision of the Assembly of the Union, there will be only one ordinary AU Summit per year instead of the two Summits previously held. The Mid-year Summit has now become a Coordination Meeting with the Regional Economic Communities (RECS). The Permanent Representatives Committee (Ambassadors) and the Executive Council of the Union will normally convene as before, prior to the Coordination Meeting. In Niamey, the rules of procedure of the coordination meeting will be considered and eventually adopted. The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting will normally be the highest committee for the African Union and RECs to align their work and coordinate the implementation of the continental integration agenda. The rules of procedures to be discussed in Niamey will define the composition of the gathering, criteria for participation, the running of its business, powers and decision making mechanisms. These policies would have to be adopted ultimately by the Assembly of the Union.

Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are regional groupings of African States each lead by a Head of State or Government on a rotational basis.  Currently the African Union recognizes 8 RECs from the 5 geographical regions of the continent. They are seen as the building blocks of the African Union in its economic integration process. The 8 RECs are: AMUCEN-SADCOMESAEACECCASECOWASIGAD and SADC.

The RECs work more and more closely with the African Union and are expected to serve their member States with the implementation of the regional integration agenda. The RECs were formed on either historical, political or economic basis. Their members are generally of more than one regional economic community and they operate at different levels of capacity and efficiency. You can read more about the RECs here.

The launch of the mid-year coordination meeting between the AU and the RECs carries the hope to deal with the cumbersome issue of overlap, duplication and sometime competition between the African Union and the RECs, to finally insure complementarity, subsidiarity and to use the comparative advantages  of each of the regional bodies vis a vis the African Union. It will also create an important platform to track the implementation of the African Union decisions at country level; more than 80% of which remain in the shelves untouched according to various reports.

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L’Union Africaine Suspend le Soudan: Quelles en sont les Conséquences ?

English version here 

En réponse à la répression sanglante le Lundi 3 Juin 2019, du sit-in des manifestants civils soudanais,  qui exigent des  militaires au pouvoir depuis la chute d’Omar Bashir , un gouvernement civil et démocratique, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité (CPS) de l’Union Africaine a sorti ses muscles.

La 854eme Session du Conseil  a décidé, «conformément aux instruments pertinents de l’Union Africaine, en particulier l’Acte Constitutif de l’Union, le Protocole relatif à la création du Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité et la Charte Africaine de la Démocratie, des Elections et de la Gouvernance, de suspendre, avec effet immédiat, la participation de la République du Soudan à toutes les activités de l’UA, jusqu’à la mise en place effective d’une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, seule voie à même de permettre au Soudan de sortir de la crise actuelle». C’est une décision sans appel, claire et non équivoque qui suscite quand même quelques questions juridiques, politiques et de clarification. Je vais en aborder quelques-unes dans ce blog.

AfricanUnionHeadquarters

Je rappelle que les affirmations de ce blog sont purement personnelles et n’engagent pas mes employeurs actuel ou passés.

 Quelles sont les implications directes de la suspension d’un Etat membre des Activités de l’Union Africaine ?

Les textes évoqués par le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans ses différentes sessions  sur la situation au Soudan n’ont pas donnés tous les détails  sur les conséquences d’une suspension d’un état membre.

Sur le plan politique Il faut reconnaitre que la suspension du  Soudan affaiblit la légitimité internationale, déjà fragile du Conseil militaire de transition au pouvoir. L’Union Africaine a un poids politique incontestable dont la décision influencerait certainement des partenaires  internationaux du Soudan.  Aucun régime politique ne voudrait être dans une situation de suspension d’une organisation de 55 états membres, la plus importante institution pan Africaine sur le continent. En outre, les violations odieuses des droits de l’homme qui ont conduit à cette suspension, notamment le viol présumé de femmes et de filles, ont rendu la situation encore plus sombre. Les Nations Unies ont également condamné le recours excessif à la force par les forces de sécurité à l’encontre de civils et ont appelé à une enquête indépendante.

Dans la pratique la suspension d’un état aux activités de l’Union implique que les représentants dudit état  ne seront plus invités  aux activités des organes de l’Union jusqu’à la levée de la suspension. Ils perdent naturellement  leurs droits de vote. L’état en question ne pourra pas non plus abriter de réunions des organes de l’Union. Tous les organes et programmes sont concernés.  Ses représentants élus dans les comités et groupes de travail n’y auront plus accès comme membres.  Il n’est cependant pas clair si les représentants de l’état suspendu peuvent être  autorisés  à siéger dans les séances non-fermées  comme observateurs et sans droit de vote. A mon avis si la séance admet des observateurs (non-états membres de l’UA), un représentant d’un état suspendu devrait pouvoir y assister sans avoir droit à la parole et au vote. Il faut quand-même préciser que la suspension d’un état des activités de l’Union n’arrête pas  l’appartenance de cet état  à l’Union Africaine. En conséquence l’état suspendu doit continuer d’honorer ses obligations vis-à-vis de l’Union telles que les cotisations au budget de l’Union. D’ailleurs c’est dans cet esprit que l’Union Africaine continuera d’accompagner le processus de normalisation en collaboration avec la Communauté économique régionale géographiquement concernée. Dans le cas d’espèce, c’est l’IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) dont fait partie le Djibouti, l’Erythrée, l’Ethiopie, le Kenya, la Somalie, le Soudan, le Sud Soudan et  l’Ouganda.

Quels en sont les effets sur les citoyens de l’état suspendu ?  La Déclaration de Lomé de Juillet 2000 sur les changements inconstitutionnels de gouvernement suggère qu’il  faut veiller à ce que les citoyens ordinaires du pays concerné ne souffrent pas de manière disproportionnée du fait de l’application de sanctions aux tenants du pouvoir. Néanmoins dans la pratique l’impact de la suspension sur les citoyens est inévitable surtout si la suspension dure dans le temps.  Par exemple la Centrafrique avait été suspendue pendant trois ans, mais j’imagine que ce qui importe le plus ici pour les citoyens soudanais c’est le soutien politique et moral que représente la décision du Conseil par rapport à leur droit légitime à l’avènement d’un état démocratique.  Le Conseil a notamment réaffirmé « la solidarité continue de l’Union Africaine avec le peuple soudanais dans ses aspirations à un cadre constitutionnel et à des institutions pouvant permettre à leur pays de connaitre des avancées dans ses efforts sur la voie de la transformation démocratique »

Pourquoi la suspension du Soudan n’as pas été automatique aussitôt après le coup d’Etat comme dans d’autres cas dans le passé ?

Le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité semble utiliser ce mécanisme au cas par cas  pour plusieurs raisons. La plus importante est que  le mécanisme de la Déclaration de Lomé et les autres instruments cités par le Conseil  avaient été rédigés dans un contexte de coups d’état classiques ou on ne connaissait pas tellement de soulèvements  populaires et les révolutions de la rue qui ont lieu de nos jours. Il est aussi vrai que l’espace démocratique s’est largement étendu en Afrique…  Il y a donc un problème de caractérisation des faits face à la  situation du Soudan aujourd’hui, mais aussi à celle de l’Egypte par le passé, de l’Algérie, du Zimbabwe etc. Il importe que l’Union Africaine se penche sur la définition du cadre d’intervention en cas de soulèvement populaire. Dans le cas du Soudan par exemple, le Conseil a  visiblement tenté de donner une chance aux militaires pour parvenir rapidement à un accord avec les civils, mais les évènements sanglants de cette semaine et l’absence de progrès dans les discussions ont fait changer la donne.

ETHIOPIA-ADDIS ABABA-18TH AU SUMMIT

Au-delà de la suspension du Soudan… le jeu des alliances avec ou sans l’Afrique.

D’aucuns se demandent si la suspension du Soudan des activités de l’Union Africaine est suffisante pour  faire courber les militaires au pouvoir.  Il faut déjà reconnaitre que le langage et la position du Conseil dans le cas soudanais est l’un des plus fermes de l’histoire. En plus, le Conseil menace qu’au cas où les militaires ne transféreront pas sans plus tarder, le pouvoir à une Autorité de transition sous conduite civile, le Conseil imposera automatiquement des mesures punitives aux personnes et entités faisant obstacle à la mise en place de l’Autorité de transition sous conduite civile. A l’ère où tout se mondialise y compris la justice et la redevabilité surtout en matière de droits de l’homme  personne ne veut prendre le risque  de faire face à ces éventualités.

Cependant, la tâche ne semble pas être si simple  dans une situation ou d’autres alliés du Soudan dans le continent et en dehors du continent  ne semblent pas aller dans la même direction que l’Union Africaine.  Il n’est donc pas étonnant de voir que dans son Communiqué, le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité dans un langage fort a souligné, « la primauté des initiatives entreprises par les pays africains dans la recherche d’une solution durable à la crise au Soudan et a réitéré  son appel à tous les partenaires pour qu’ils soutiennent les efforts de l’UA et de l’IGAD et s’abstiennent de toute action susceptible de compromettre les initiatives entreprises par l’Afrique ».

Même si le Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies n’a pas pu s’entendre sur un texte commun et la conduite à tenir, une grande partie de la communauté internationale semble être alignée sur la position de l’Union Africaine. L’Union Africaine a en effet du potentiel et un poids politique assez important à ne pas négliger pour résolution du problème soudanais et bien d’autres sur le continent.

J’ai espoir que la raison prévaudra entre les parties prenantes soudanaises.  L’Afrique que nous voulons en dépens.

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African Union Suspended Sudan: What are the Consequences?

La version en Francais ici

In response to the bloody removal on Monday 3rd June, of the sit-in of Sudanese civilian protesters who are demanding a democratic government to the military in power since the fall of Omar Bashir, the African Union Peace and Security Council has pulled out its muscles yesterday 6 June 2019.

The 854th Session of the Council decided, “in line with the relevant AU instruments, in particular the AU Constitutive Act, the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, to suspend, with immediate effect, the participation of the Republic of Sudan in all AU activities until the effective establishment of a civilian-led Transitional Authority, as the only way to allow the Sudan to exit from its current crisis”. This decision is clear and unambiguous but it raises some legal,  political and practical questions. I will address some of them in this blog.

AfricanUnionHeadquarters

Please note that affirmations of this blog are purely personal and do not engage my current or past employers.

What are the direct implications of the suspension of a Member State from the activities of the African Union?

The instruments referred to by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) in its various sessions on the situation in Sudan have not given full details of the consequences of a suspension of a member state.

Political significance: It should be recognized that the suspension of Sudan weakens the already fragile international legitimacy of the ruling Transition Military Council. The African Union has an undeniable political weight and its decision will certainly influence international partners of Sudan. No political regime would enjoy to be in a situation of suspension from an organization of 55 member states, the most important Pan African institution on the continent. In addition, the heinous violation of human rights that led to this suspension, including alleged widespread rape of women and girls, made the picture even darker. The United Nations has also strongly condemned the violence and the use of excessive force by the security forces on civilians, and called for an independent investigation.

In practice the suspension of a state from the affairs of the Union implies that representatives of that State will no longer be invited to the activities of the organs of the Union until the lifting of the suspension. They naturally lose their voting rights. Nor can the State in question host meetings of the organs of the Union. All AU bodies and programs are concerned. Elected representatives of the suspended state in the various AU committees and working groups will no longer have access to them as members. It is unclear, however, whether suspended state officials may be allowed to sit in an open session as observers and without the right to vote. In my opinion, if the meeting admits observers (non-member states of the AU), a representative of the suspended state should be able to attend the meeting without the right to speak and to vote. However, it is necessary to specify that the suspension of a state of the activities of the Union does not stop the membership of the said state to the African Union. As a result, the suspended state must continue to honor its obligations to the Union, such as contributions to the Union budget. Moreover, it is in that spirit that the African Union will continue to support the normalization process in collaboration with the Regional Economic Community geographically concerned. In this case, it is IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) which includes Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.

What are the effects on citizens ?

The Lomé Declaration of July 2000 suggests that care must be taken to ensure that ordinary citizens of the affected country do not suffer disproportionately from the imposition of sanctions on those in power. Nevertheless in practice the impact of the suspension on the citizens is inevitable especially if the suspension lasts long. For example, the Central African Republic had been suspended for three years, but I can imagine that what is most important here for Sudanese citizens today is the political and moral support that the PSC decision represents for their legitimate right for a democratic state. In particular, the Council reaffirmed “the solidarity of the African Union with the Sudanese in their aspirations to constitutional order that will enable them to make progress in its efforts towards the democratic transformation of the country”.

ETHIOPIA-ADDIS ABABA-18TH AU SUMMIT

Why was Sudan’s suspension not automatic immediately after the coup as in other cases in the past?

The Peace and Security Council seems to use this mechanism on a case-by-case basis for several reasons. The most important is that, the mechanism of the Lomé Declaration and the other instruments cited by the Council had been drafted in the context of classic coups. Popular uprisings and street revolutions where not envisaged at that time. It is also true that nowadays the democratic space has spread widely in Africa so strong and persistent popular movements could not be ignored anymore … There is therefore a problem of characterization of the situation in Sudan today, but also that of Egypt a few years back, in Algeria, Zimbabwe etc. It is important for the African Union to look at defining the framework for action in the event of popular uprisings. In the case of Sudan, for example, the Council apparently tried to give the military a chance to reach an agreement with the civilians quickly, but the bloody events of this week and the lack of progress in the discussions had changed the situation.

Beyond the suspension of Sudan from AU activities and the game of alliances

Some question whether the suspension of Sudan from the activities of the African Union is sufficient to bend the ruling Transition Military Council. We should recognize that, already the language and position of the PSC is one of the firmest in history. In addition, the PSC threatens that, should the Transition Military Council fail to hand-over power to a civilian-led Transitional Authority, the PSC shall, without any further delay, automatically impose punitive measures on individuals and entities obstructing the establishment of the civilian-led Transitional Authority. There is also a move towards investigating the massive human rights violations. In a world where everything is globalizing, including justice and accountability, especially in the area of ​​human rights, no one wants to take the risk of facing these eventualities.

However, this does not seem to be so simple in a situation where other Sudanese allies within and outside the continent do not seem to be moving in the same direction as the African Union. It is therefore not surprising that in its Communiqué, the Peace and Security Council stressed “the primacy of African-led initiatives in the search for a lasting solution to the crisis in Sudan; and reiterated its call to all partners to support AU and IGAD efforts and refrain from any action that could undermine African-led initiatives”.

Even though the United Nations Security Council has not been able to agree on a common text and what to do, a large part of the international community seems to be aligned with the position of the African Union. The African Union has the potential and a significant political weight, to help solve the Sudanese problem and many others in the continent.

I hope that reason will prevail between the Sudanese stakeholders. We need that for the Africa we want.

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My 10 Quick Takeaways from the Tana Forum on Peace & Security in Africa – 8th Edition

Tana High Level Forum on Peace & Security in Africa is an unique opportunity for sharing, learning & networking. An informal space where discussions are open, frank and candid. Views and opinions in Tana Forum are generally considered as personal and do not necessarily represent institutional positions.

The theme of the 8th edition held on 3 & 4 May 2019 was “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Nurturing the Emerging Peace Trend”.

I am sharing here my quick personal takeaways from the Forum.

For official reports and working documents please visit: https://tanaforum.org

Takeaways

1/ Multilateralism should be our guiding principle in dealing with peace and security/conflict issues in the continent.

2/ Concerted efforts by the African Union and the Regional Economics Communities (RECs) are key to capitalize on the current momentum in the Horn of Africa, consolidate/reinforce partnership among Member States to align priorities and actions, and to withstand external influences that can negatively hold the region back from its search for peace & security.

3/ Africa should better own and make use of the United Nations system and programs.

4/ There is a need to revise relations between leadership and citizens in Africa.

5/ Need for a better political and economic governance based on our agreed shared values.

6/ Protecting civic space, enhancing citizens participation including a genuine press freedom are paramount today.

7/ Need to speedy the process of free movement of people, goods and services.

8/ Need to put in place concrete measures for youth empowerment to capture and harness the demographic dividend.

9/ We should promote people to people relations in the region toward an effective regional integration.

10/ Tana Forum should continue with an enhanced diversity and gender balance.

The State of World Population 2019 – New UNFPA Report

Dear friends

I would like to share with you the annual flagship publication of UNFPA, the State of World Population 2019 report, which has just been launched globally today 10th April 2019.

This year’s report is entitled, “Unfinished Business: the pursuit of rights and choices for all.”  It looks into the barriers that women and girls have faced over the past 50 years since UNFPA was established, and how governments, civil society and organizations such as UNFPA came together over the years to help overcome those obstacles. Furthermore, the report explores the barriers ahead and shows what we can do together now to help overcome them.

Diving in, the 2019 report brings to the fore two crucial questions: “Are women better off today since the establishment of UNFPA?” and “Have we finished the business of the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development?”

We trust that this report would help us refocus the discussion on population and its link to sustainable development.

You can download the report here.

SWP 2019_Multiple Language Poster_HighResWe also have hard copies in English and French available in our office in Addis Ababa UNECA, Congo Building. Please call +251988190192 to reserve one.

Kindly share it with your network.

 

Do you know which Heads of State/Government champion your issues at the African Union?

Over the years the Assembly of the African Union has been appointing Heads of State/Government to champion/lead on key issues and initiatives on the continental agenda. The aim is to give greater awareness and to mobilize continental and global support for the implementation of those initiatives/issues. Thematic assignments have played a role in enabling the Union to tackle wide array of issues on its agenda. 

Who are those Champions?

  1. Continent’s Political Integration: Republic of Uganda: President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
  2. Combating Early Marriage of Young Girls: Republic of Zambia : President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
  3. Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA): Republic of Niger: President  Mahamadou Issoufou
  4. Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investment in Youth: Republic of Chad: President  Idriss Deby Itno
  5. Domestic Health Financing: Republic of Rwanda: President  Paul Kagame
  6. Institutional Reform of the African Union: Republic of Rwanda: President Paul Kagame
  7. Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP): Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Prime Minister  Abiy Ahmed
  8. Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa: Republic of Togo: President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe
  9. Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Africa: People’s Republic of Algeria: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
  10. Migration: Kingdom of Morocco: King Mohamed VI
  11. Implementation of the African Union Agenda 2063: Republic of Cote D’Ivoire: President  Alassane Dramane Ouattara
  12. Gender and Development Issues in Africa: Republic of Ghana: President Nana Akufo Addo
  13. Committee of Ten (C10) on the United Nations Security Council reform: Republic of Sierra Leone: President  Julius Maada Bio
  14. Education, Science and Innovation: Republic of Senegal: President Mr. Macky Sall
  15. AUDA/NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC): Republic of Senegal: President Macky Sall
  16. Malaria: Kingdom of Eswatini: King Mswati III
  17. Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation: Federal Republic of Nigeria: President  Muhammadu Buhari
  18. Climate Change (CAHOSCC): Republic of Gabon: President Ali Bongo Ondimba
  19. Revitalization and operationalization of the African Union Policy on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD): Arab Republic of Egypt: President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
  20. Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation: Burkina Faso: President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré
  21. Refugees, Returnees and Internal Displaced Persons (IDP): Republic of Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
  22. High-Level Committee on Libya: Republic of Congo: President Denis Sassou Nguesso
  23. African Union- United Nations Cooperation: Republic of South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa
  24. Development of Blue Economy : Republic of Seychelles: H.E. President Danny Faure.

So far there are no standard modalities for the selection of those champions, the duration of the assignments are not clear and it is not sure if the assignment is transferable in case of change of leadership at the helm of the country. The African Union needs to clarify these. 

This list may not be exhaustive. Please drop me a line on assogbavi@me.com or Desire.Assogbavi@assodesire.com should you have additional information or suggestions on this.

Merci !