Ruto attends AU retreat in Naivasha as Kenyans protest over Finance Bill

William Ruto

President William Ruto at ACK Church of the Christ the King Pro-Cathedral in Nyahururu, Laikipia County on June 23, 2024.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • President Ruto over the AU champion of Institutional Reforms role from Paul Kagame.
  • Head of State pledges to empower the African Union Commission with the capacity.

President William Ruto spent the better part of Tuesday morning in Naivasha as Kenyans across the country protested against the tax proposals in the Finance Bill 2024.

The President presided over the opening of a retreat on the institutional reforms of the African Union at Enashipai Resort in Naivasha.

President Ruto, who was early this year appointed the African Union Champion for Institutional Reform, assured representatives of African Union member states of his dedication to radical reforms that will enhance AU’s efficiency.

"I am determined to make radical reforms that will make the African Union, its organs and specialised agencies more effective. Particularly, there are functional overlaps that urgently need resolution to enhance AU's operational efficiency," said President Ruto.

The Head of State took over the AU champion of Institutional Reforms from President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The role involves reforming the structure, functioning and focus of the African Union Commission, AU organs and specialised agencies to make them more effective and efficient in managing the affairs of member states.

"We have a historic opportunity to reform the African Union and make it fit for purpose in light of our collective developmental objectives. We must execute these reforms with resolve and a sense of urgency commensurate with the magnitude of our challenges, potential, and ambition," President Ruto said.

"Africans are highly enterprising, educated, skilled, and youthful and are ready to do their part in developing our continent. We must not let them down, and we must not keep them waiting," he added.

While acknowledging the reforms that have been made by his predecessor, Paul Kagame, President Ruto pledged to make the African Union Commission fit for purpose and to empower it with the capacity to engage the rest of the world on behalf of Africa.

"As a result of the reforms made so far, decision-making at the AU Assembly has been streamlined to achieve significant clarity and economy. Similarly, the structure and mandates of the senior ranks of the Commission have been realigned and cemented with rationalised selection modalities.

Additionally, the AU Commission, organs, and specialised agencies have also been restructured," he said.

He said the new partnership for Africa's Development has been transformed into the African Union Development Agency, ushering in a new era of ambitious pursuit of shared prosperity.

"Likewise, 42 out of 55 institutions have been analysed and reviewed, while the structure of the Commission has been fully reviewed and approved by the Executive Council. A new AU for a new era is beginning to take shape, and the next phase of the reforms, which I am privileged to lead, will complete this exemplary work," he said.

“Economists have predicted another year of slow growth in the world in 2024, meaning that budget constraints will continue to limit our capacity to execute the AU Agenda 2063.There will be no resources to waste, and greater efficiency is imperative. We cannot afford to spread our meagre resources too thin across institutions that perform overlapping functions," the President said.

The Head of State also said it is time for Africa to reform the Pan-African Parliament to enable it to exercise oversight over the AU Commission, to make it more accountable and to finally establish an African Court of Justice.

"Faced with the relentless challenge of climate change and escalating instability and economic shocks, African nations must find strength in Pan-African unity. Despite the many daunting forces working hard to divide us, the AU must be able to keep us united and focused on the fundamental objectives of delivering inclusive prosperity throughout Africa, contributing to global development, security, and stability, and safeguarding the future of our humankind and diversity," the President further said.

President Ruto also vowed to establish a robust and sustainable funding mechanism for both the AU regular and program budgets.

Earlier, AUC chairman Mussou Faki lamented about the conflicts between AUC and the special agencies of AU.

Some African leaders have also been increasingly skeptical about the AU's effectiveness amid economic instability, poverty, unemployment , inequality, political unrest as well as ethnic conflicts.

President Ruto was accompanied by Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi at the function.