President Ruto uses Africa Union Nairobi meeting to push for reforms

William Ruto

President William Ruto with his colleague Azali Assoumani of Comoros on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Nairobi on July 16, 2023.

Photo credit: PCS

President William Ruto has called for reforms at the African Union to make it more effective, avoid duplication of roles and turn it into an investment hub.

Speaking during the African Union’s fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (MYCM) that started in Nairobi on Sunday, bringing together various regional economic groups and mechanisms to accelerate continental integration, Dr Ruto asked the continent to consider reforms at the AU as ‘priority’.

The meeting is led by Dr Ruto with the participation of Comorian President Ghazali Osmani, who currently chairs the AU Summit. “It is time to free up the African Union from structural and organisational constraints including duplication and other inefficiencies, thereby facilitating it to be effective on a greater scale. As a starting point, defining the roles and functions of different organs and instruments more clearly is now unavoidable,” said Dr Ruto during the opening session at Gigiri, Nairobi.

President Ruto said the AU has organs with overlapping functions. While he didn't clarify, in an earlier speech, he had suggested AU Commission Chairperson and the AU Assembly Chair should be merged and the holder of the position be the sole spokesperson of the AU.

 “The coordination, administrative and implementation mandate of the Commission, the legislative and oversight function of a strong Pan African Parliament, and the political leadership, ownership, and broad policy direction of the Council, all need to be reflected more clearly through rational structural delineation,” said Dr Ruto.

“We must therefore capitalise on the institutional reform momentum at the AU to pursue the complete development of effective capacity to deliver Pan-African transformation.”

Present were Presidents Assoumani (Comoros), Felix Tshisekedi (DRC), Ali Bongo (Gabon), Abdel Fattah (Egypt), Macky Sall (Senegal), Ismail Guelleh (Djibouti) and Bola Tinubu (Nigeria), African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki, among others.

Dr Ruto said the AU funding gaps agreed on under the Kigali Decision must be implemented. AU is so far funded 60 per cent by external parties.

“To do this, self-reliance is essential, and a fit-for purpose institutional architecture is indispensable... The demands of our challenging time require an AU that can pursue multiple urgent and critical interventions using internally mobilised resources,” he said.

During the 27th AU Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2016, all AU Member States were directed to implement a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union.

Dr Ruto pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Area will be the world’s largest free-trade area, bringing together 54 countries.

The President said the success of COP27 in Egypt was a signal that Africa is taking off. “It showed that Africa can speak in one voice and contribute to global development and climate action.”

The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that Africa is the source of solutions to worldwide challenges, stating that the continent is fully supported by the UN.