Ruto pushes for independent AU at meeting with African leaders

President William Ruto (left) the at UN complex in Gigiri, Nairobi. [PCS]

President William Ruto drummed up support to have the African Union self-reliant and move it from the current state where over 60 per cent of its programmes are financed by overseas partners.

Speaking as host president to African leaders at UN complex in Gigiri, Ruto said its time to have an AU that can pursue multiple urgent and critical interventions using internally mobilised resources.

Chronic dependence on well-meaning partners, he added, is starkly inconsistent with this aspiration.

The president said it was 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 with a starting point being to define the roles and functions of different organs and instruments more clearly.

Ruto who has been carving out an image of 'the voice of the African continent' in international fora said the African Free Trade Area for instance inaugurates the world’s largest free-trade area with 54 countries having agreed to create a single market with a population of 1.4 billion and GDP of USD 3.4 trillion. He said the free trade area is projected to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and boost incomes by 7%, or $450 billion by 2035.

African leaders at the meeting include presidents Azali Assoumani (Comoros), Ali Bongo (Gabon), Abdel Fattah el- Sisi (Egypt), Macky Sall (Senegal), Ismail Guelleh (Djibouti), Felix Tshisekedi(Congo DRC) and Bola Tinubu (Nigeria) yesterday.

The leaders arrived in Kenya Saturday to attend the fifth Africa Union Coordination Summit.

Ruto said Africans need to be proud of this magnificent project whose positive effects will reverberate throughout the world for a long time to come.

“Agenda 2063 is the blueprint to deliver the Pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous, peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena, it is more critical now than ever before, that we marshal our collective consciousness, will power, solidarity and unity to fulfil our fundamental generational mandate of introducing Africa as a new global power,” said Ruto.

The president said that the continent should be ready and able to provide leadership towards a new industrial age that shall simultaneously usher in an era of inclusive development, shared prosperity and effective climate action while capitalizing on the institutional reform momentum at the African Union to pursue the complete development of effective capacity to deliver a Pan-African transformation.

He commended President El-Sisi for successfully chairing the Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, which effectively steered AUDA NEPAD in its momentous breakthrough in achieving the agenda 2063 aspiration of consolidating regional and continental integration and also for successfully hosting the African COP, the last conference of state parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November last year.

Dr Ruto said that COP27 was a turning point of tremendous magnitude because it brought home to the peoples of Africa the imperative to reconfigure their model of engagement with global and multilateral frameworks in general and the urgency of projecting a new place, role, and voice to define Africa’s contribution to global development and climate action.

He told the summit that it was at this COP that Africa finally revealed to the world a new determination to project a clear, forceful, and unified voice, and claim its opportunity to contribute to resolving humanity’s most serious existential threat to climate change.

Dr Ruto lauded President Bongo for the progress he has made in stewarding collaboration among regional economic communities under the Inter-REC Cooperation Initiative in his capacity as the Chair of Economic Community of Central Africa(ECCAS) as a result, the ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States have made significant strides in strengthening maritime security cooperation.

“I also appreciate the work being done, President of the Republic of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh who chairs the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development for his able leadership of IGAD’s contribution to the process towards agreement on cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia,” said Dr Ruto.

He said he was cognizant of the animated activity and excellent work that has brought much progress in ongoing projects and initiatives being undertaken across many spheres, by the Economic Community of West African States under the able leadership of President Tinubu and the Common Market of the East and Southern Africa led by Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema.

Ruto also praised the efforts being made by Southern Africa Development Community chaired by DRC Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, the Community of the Sahel-Saharan States under the stewardship of Chad President Mahamat Deby and the Arabic Union of the Maghreb, led by President of the Presidency Council of the State of Libya Mohammad Mehnfi, and the East African Community under Burundi president Evariste Ndayishimiye.

The African Union Chairman Comoros President Azzali Assoumani said a sincere dialogue with the protagonists in various African countries facing conflict was important since peace and security are the driving factor for development.

“The acceleration of the African Continental market is key in having a prosperous Africa that needs to close ranks more than ever with African solutions for African problems, Africa Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy was held in Comoros in June, Africa Island States have a huge untapped potential,” said Assoumani.

Africa Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said that the free movement of people and goods within the continent was very important for the development of the African continent.

The summit has brought together at least ten heads of state and 51 ministers from AU member states.