Several African leaders on Sunday approved proposals to make the African Union more efficient and financially independent, including through the implementation of an import levy by member states.
Heads of state and ministers had gathered at the body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa for what was seen as a last-ditch attempt to push through reforms that have been mulled for nearly 2 years.
The AU in 2016 charged its chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame with getting reforms passed, but observers have said time is running out because Egypt, which is set to assume the chairmanship, is thought to oppose aspects of the agenda.
We have done our part to continue the journey, and I expect the coming… chairperson of the African Union to continue with the same momentum and the same progress.
In proposals unveiled last year, Kagame envisioned a more narrowly focused AU headed by a powerful commission whose bills were covered by its 55 member states rather than foreign donors.
Although not all his reforms were passed, Kagame welcomed the progress made at the two-day summit.
Their effect would be “felt for decades” to come, he said.
“We have done our part to continue the journey, and I expect the coming… chairperson of the African Union to continue with the same momentum and the same progress,” he added.
The majority of the bloc’s 55 member states rejected Kagame’s plan to give the head of the AU commission, the body’s executive branch, the power to appoint their own deputy and commissioners.
This was seen as a move to make the administration more accountable to their leader.
However members backed moves to streamline the body while bringing in revenue from member states and sanctioning those who don’t pay their dues.
The AU currently depends on foreign donors, who in 2019 will pay for 54 percent of a total budget of $681.5 million (596 million euros).
But the US has opposed the duty, arguing it violates World Trade Organisation rules.
The AU also agreed to reduce the number of commissions to six from eight, with peace and security merged with political affairs and trade and industry merged with economic affairs, AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat told journalists.