African Union Summit – July 2017: What to Expect?

Friends;

As usual, I would like to share with you the following preliminary notes and analysis on the upcoming 29th Ordinary Summit of the AU policy organs being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as follows:

  • Permanent Representative Committee (Ambassadors): 27 – 28 June 2017
  • Executive Council (Ministers of Foreign Affairs): 30 June – 1st July 2017
  • Assembly of the Union (Heads of State and Government): 3-4 July 2017

In addition, several statutory meetings of various AU organs and parallel events are scheduled. The official agenda of the Summit is not yet publicly available. This Summit will be the first to be organized by the new leadership of the AU Commission.

With or without observers?

It is unclear if the corridors of the Summit will be open for observers during the sessions. The Assembly has already decided in January 2017 under Kagame’s Report that “external parties shall only be invited to AU Summits on an exceptional basis and for a specific purpose determined by the interests of the African Union”. The question here is to know if African citizens’ formations/CSOs are also considered as “external parties” knowing that the AU claims to be a people driven organization.

Permanent/Resident Representatives of Non-African States and International Organizations will likely be invited for the official opening and closing ceremonies of the Assembly and the Executive Council. The Media is normally invited.

Key strategic issues likely to be on the Agenda of the Summit: (Youth, AU reform, Peace and Security, AU Funding, Election of two remaining Commissioners, Agenda 2063 10-year implementation plan and Continental Trade Area …)

1/ Youth (Theme of the year): “Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth”

A presentation and a presidential debate of more than 2 hours to be led by President Idriss Deby (Chad) is planned on the 3rd July. The youth are unlikely to be invited to this debate on the “Roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in the Youth” developed by the AU Commission … It was agreed that such a roadmap should be domesticated and implemented by each member state. A couple of countries have in fact, already done a national launch.  The Roadmap has the following pillars: 1- Employment and Entrepreneurship, 2- Education and Skill Development, 3- Health and Wellbeing, 4- Governance and Youth Empowerment.

A presidential solemn declaration on the youth may be adopted following the debate.

Burkina Faso has proposed for consideration an African Decade for Technical, Professional, Entrepreneurial and Employment Training in Africa (2017-2027)

2/ Institutional Reform of the African Union

President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) is expected to present a report on the implementation of his proposed reform plan for the AU, adopted by the Assembly in January this year. A decision will be taken on what has been done and what remains to be done.

Building on his success back home, President Kagame is intensifying the pressure to put the continental body on tract for effectiveness and efficiency to meet the on-going challenges that our continent is facing and to implement the ambitious Agenda 2063.

3/ Peace and Security

The Chairperson of the AU Commission is expected to provide a report on the state of peace and security in Africa with recommendations for the Assembly. Highlights will likely include South Sudan, CAR, Somalia, DRC, Mali etc… as well as emerging security threats such as cybercrime and trending threats such as maritime security and piracy, terrorist, fundamentalism and religious extremism etc.

Since he took over the chairmanship of the Commission in March this year, Chadian diplomat Moussa Faki Mahamat has clearly shown through his movements that peace and security is among his top priorities.  In fact, “silencing the guns in Africa” has been his top message while campaigning to win his position.  In just a few months, Moussa has already visited Africa’s major hotspots. A report on the implementation of the master roadmap of practical steps to silencing the guns in Africa by 2020 will then be considered by the Summit.

Silencing the guns by 2020?

Last year the African Union prepared a Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020. It is a well elaborated document with the correct analysis of the situation … but then what is next? Let’s face it: Are we really moving towards silencing the guns in the next 3 years ? if so, what are we doing collectively and individually in our various capacity to get there? Can we silence the guns without ensuring democratic governance, decent and true elections, responsible and fair management of our natural resources? Can we break the vicious circle of conflicts without insuring justice and accountability for the heinous crimes being committed on our people by our people? …Alternation on power is one of the problems that we need to resolve collectively without further delay . There is an imperative in all societies to renew political leadership from time to time through credible elections.  Since we are still struggling to ensure credible elections in Africa, alternation in power must be tabled and courageously discussed and adopted.

Beside the already burning conflict zones, I am worried about the silence and/or inaction of the continent on several potential and on-going risky situations such as  Zambia, DRC, Cameroon, Zimbabwe etc.) where unacceptable pressures are being made on independent media, civil society and political opposition. Without abiding to our shared values contained in the various policies standards and treaties that we have adopted, I am afraid “silencing the guns” will remain a beautiful slogan!

We know the guns are mostly carried by desperate and vulnerable youth who, most of the time, have nothing else to lose. They are in Somalia, South Sudan, Darfur, CAR, DRC, Nigeria, Mali etc… They are in many other countries, they are trained and graduated  but without job… some of them are choosing  to leave the continent at any cost… In 2017 alone, more than 1,500 young Africans have perished in the Mediterranean Sea and many other died of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe.

Efforts made by the chairperson of the Commission on this issue must be matched by member states’ political will to guarantee democracy and rule of law and if most of the political regimes in our continent continue failing on democracy and rule of law, the road to peace and security, prerequisite for our development agenda will be long, very long…

A contribution to the ways forward: We need to imagine courageous tools and make bold steps to change the paradigms… the Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020 has very useful ideas… but how do we ”force” the power holders to make these happen? We all know the main root causes of our conflicts… So the 1st step for silencing the guns  is an environment of democracy, respect of the human rights and the rules of law and a decent and inclusive management of national wealth aiming at reducing inequality…  But again how do we monitor this and ensure it is happening?   I am imagining, an  independent High Level Task Force on democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance to be appointed by the Assembly of the Union  in order to systematically track the implementation by member states, of democracy, rule of law and human rights and equality/inclusivity standards contained in our various instruments, especially their relation with fragility and conflicts in different countries in the continent. The Task Force shall be able to make public without any condition, its Report of the state of democracy rule of law and human rights in Africa… so it will become clear to all of us which regimes are undermining our common aspirations.  The said Task Force shall obviously work with and build on the existing mechanisms (APRM, AGA, APSA, Panel of the Wise…) What I wish to see here is a Task Force that is directly accountable to African people without the obstruction of the leadership… This may bring a heavier pressure them… Please share your views and comments on this…

We must stop praising the evil doing among ourselves,  but rather start exposing and sanctioning them in line with our shared values. A lot must be done at country  then regional levels… (see recent example from ECOWAS in The Gambia), then the AU Commission and other organs shall support… We all have a role to play in this… our people must stand up, like recently in Burkina Faso, and say a big NO to bad and irresponsible leadership, make sure that their votes are counted and their money are properly used, not stollen. The elite class has a big responsibility in sensitizing and mobilizing other  for the good cause…

4/ Budget and Funding of the Union

According to the current projections, in 2018, the African Union will need about 800 Million USD for its operations ($154M), programmes ($296M) and peace support ($350M). The approved 2017 budget amounts 782 Million USD.

 It is unlikely that AU Member states meet this year, their commitment made in 2015/2016 to cover 100% of AU operational budget, 75% of programme budget and 25% of peace support operation budget.

So far AU Member States have been paying less than 30% of the overall budget of the Union. More than 70% is paid by external partners.

Uncertainty on the source of funding of the Union: Donald Kaberuka, the High Representative for the AU Peace Fund is expected to provide an updated report on the implementation of the new funding strategy adopted by the Union in July 2016 in Kigali, by which 0.2 % levy on eligible imports should be collected from each member state to fund the AU. According to on-going technical discussions in closed doors, a number of AU member states are dragging their feet on coming up with domestic legislation to implement the Kigali Decision, evoking different excuses including those relating to the WTO rules… I have 2 questions on this: 1- Where were our member states’ technical experts on international trade at the time this  decision was discussed?… 2 – Is it not the mechanism ECOWAS has been using for years? What is different here? Please share your views/comments below…

It is however encouraging to know that some member states (Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana etc) have been moving in the right direction by taking legislative national measures to implement the 0.2% commitment.

5/ Election of 2 Commissioners

In January, the Assembly elected the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson and appointed 6 Commissioners elected by the Executive Council out of 8 portfolios. The remaining following 2 Commissioners will be elected during the upcoming Summit.

  • Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology
  • Commissioner for Economic Affairs.

According to the gender and geographical representation policies of the AU, the 2 commissioners should be 1 male from the Eastern Region 1 female from the Central Region.

At the closure of the deadline, the AUC received the following application from the Deans of the regions:

Candidates for the post of Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology:

  1. Sarah Mbi Enow ANYANG AGBOR from Cameroon, Female, Central Africa Region
  2. Dr. John Patrick KABAYO from Uganda, Male, East Africa Region

Candidates for the post of Commissioner for Economic Affairs

  1. Hon. Yacin Elmi BOUH from Djibouti, Male East Africa region
  2. Newaye Christos GEBRE-AB from Ethiopia, Male, East Africa Region
  3. Victor HARISON from Madagascar, Male, East Africa Region
  4. Marthe Chantal Ndjepang MBAJON from Cameroon, Female, Central Africa Region

For the election of Commissioners, the statutes of the AU Commission imposes a pre-selection process at the regional level. Each region shall nominate 2 candidates for each portfolio. The nomination process shall be based on modalities to be determined by the region.

6/ Agenda 2063 : First 10-year implementation plan

A progress report on the implementation of the Agenda 2063 will be presented to the Summit. An African Economic Platform has been held for the first time this year with the aim to discuss cross-cutting issues that affect Africa’s economies and ways of which opportunities and options from these could be harnessed to ensure continental transformation. The other progress made is the domestication of the agenda into national planning frameworks done by several member states, the process on the Continental Free Trade Area and the African Commodities Strategy as well several discussions held with traditional and new partners. We should not however forget the fact that the realization of the Agenda 2063 is conditioned by a peaceful environment within the continent.

On the implementation of decisions: Less than 15% of African Union decisions are actually implemented and the upcoming summit will make more decisions… It is important to insist on the urgent need to change the rules of the game and to do things differently in terms of realizing the promises made through   agreed policy frameworks and standards. If our leaders cannot implement their own decisions, why are they continuing meeting to take more decisions? Up to 5,000 delegates or more attend the AU summit 2 times every year to take an average of 40 decisions per summit. In between summits, hundreds of other policy meetings are held in different capitals. The average cost of a full member states meeting is between 300,000 – 1Milion USD… Some Specialized Technical Committees meetings cost up to 1.5 Million USD. At the end, if only less than 15% the  decisions made are implemented… how can we make it to 2063?

This article will be updated regularly until the Summit startsLast update: 9 June.

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Get more targeted updates & analysis on  African Politics from my twitter account : https://twitter.com/Assodesire and feel free to send me your comments, suggestions & questions by email to:  assogbavi@me.com or directly on this blog below.

 

7 thoughts on “African Union Summit – July 2017: What to Expect?

  1. Thank you Desire for this rich analysis. It helps us to know what to expect from the summit and possible areas for future engagement.

  2. Very good analyses indeed with facts. In addition, my hope is to have a vibrant key notes on the AU Theme of the Year addressed by a powerful leader in addition to a High Level Press Conference on Demographic Dividend. Information should reach the public on what are the concrete measurements beyond 2017.

  3. Thank you Desire for this effort made to enlighten many of us on what is most likely to happen and what to expect. Please keep us informed. Job well done!

  4. Dear Désiré, thanks a lot for this paper which address the main challenges of the African Union. I’m deeply concerned about the question of how relevant are the AU Summits with regard to African crisis or problems? Considering the cost of each AU Summit and the lack of financial resources, is it relevant to have two AU Summits per year? I believe, African Union efficiency is all about taking clear and concrete actions addressing African current challenges, following them up strictly, checking and evaluating what’s working and what’s not and move on consistently and in a sustainable way. Also, we surely have many challenges in different areas…but let’s prioritize and focus on what matters the most. The funding of the Union is a critical point which needs a better attention….Thanks once again for leading this important discussion about our Union. Regards.

    Rostand Banzeu

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