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Ruto says AU member states will benefit more from stronger union

 President William Ruto meet his Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema during the 22nd Comesa Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Lusaka, Zambia on June 08, 2023. [PCS]

President William Ruto has called for reforms at the African Union (AU) to unite the continent.

Ruto said he had discussed this with legislators of the Pan African Parliament and emphasised the need to adapt the AU to present realities.

"To ensure that the African Union performs at the level of its aspirations, it will be necessary to make sure that it empowers itself with sufficient capacity. Otherwise, African Solutions, Agenda 2063, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and the Young, Clean Green Continent of the Future will never be a reality," he said.

Ruto was speaking in Lusaka, Zambia during the change of guard of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) leadership from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as chairperson.

The President thanked Mr el-Sisi and welcomed the incoming chairman, President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia.

Ruto argued that the AU must examine its structures to ensure the roles of various entities like bureaus, summits, committees, regional caucuses, secretariats, and commissions are rationalised. This, he added, will result in a fit-for-purpose continental governance body capable of global engagement.

"Member states must consider donating power to AU in trade, regional and global security matters as well as other areas that Africa can benefit from engaging together rather than individually," he said.

Ruto also proposed combining the roles of the AU Summit chair and the AU Commission chair to increase leverage in negotiations.

Green continent

On environmental issues, Ruto outlined Kenya's aim to reposition Africa as a young, clean, green continent, capitalizing on opportunities presented by the transition to green industrialisation to transform challenges posed by the climate crisis into opportunities to lead the next industrial revolution.

Ruto said the theme for the 22nd Comesa Summit resonates powerfully with Kenya, especially in aspirations for radical transformation, adding that the promotion of green investment to power a zero-carbon global industrial orders is a priority.

"Through robust policy, we have taken positive measures to construct an investment climate that attracts high quality global capital to our economy, and to promote a business environment that encourages value addition and secondary manufacturing."

Ruto identified green investment as an unexplored opportunity for environmentally responsible socioeconomic development.

"Our progress in achieving sustainable development goals will increasingly depend on enhanced investment in infrastructure and assets that are necessary for rapid economic growth, but environmentally friendly and resilient to climate impacts," he said.

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