AU Chairmanship: Kudos Kagame; big tasks await Fattah

By Sam A. Sewanyana, Jnr.
On 12 March 2019 at 07:15

Recently, President Paul Kagame completed his one year tenure as the Chairperson of the African Union and handed over the chairmanship to the Egyptian President Fattah El-Sisi during the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in the Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Kagame has achieved a lot during his reign at the African Union Chairmanship; he performed excellently; his critique will still claim he did not with their usual made-up accusations but with facts on the ground the man delivered to his level best as a Panafricanist who believes in an Able, peaceful, stable and prosperous African continent as opposed to the past narrative by the colonialists, some western countries and a few other Africans.

President Kagame doubled as the Africa Union Reform Commission tasked with reforming the AU commission; the tasks included restructuring its commissions to new portfolios that will address key concerns of the continent, and merging other commissions merged; the reforms commission outlined new portfolios such as Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment; Economic Development, Trade and Industry and Mining; Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure and Energy; Political Affairs, Peace and Security and Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development. The reforms commission delivered to its mandate, the reforms will put into effect in 2021; The essence of these reforms is to build a self-reliant, stable, secure and prosperous continent whereby member states will be able to fully finance the African Union Commission’s budget, ensuring accountability within the commissions towards achieving the continent’s vision 2063.

President Kagame represented Africa’s interests in various occasions across the world over; meeting with United States of America’s Donald Trump held talks on US-Africa trade, peace, and security, counterterrorism as well as the ongoing AU reforms; President Trump pledged US commitment on working with Africa to build a strong, aid-free and prosperous continent as opposed to the previous understanding. President Kagame represented Africa’s interests in various forums across the globe including G20 Summit, the China-Africa Cooperation, and Germany- Africa forum among others; the AU chair advocated for Africa’s readiness to doing business with the world, luring investors to the continent as well as showcasing Africa’s potential.

President Kagame changed the image of Africa in the world over; the continent perceived as a war-torn, ruled by authoritarian regimes, brandished by endless violent protests and civil wars; it was high time people across the world change that rhetoric, the AU Chair brandished Africa’s new image of a secure, stable, business and modern innovations driven continent that is open to business with the rest of the world with respect of mutual interest between the parties; Kagame presented another Africa as a potential continent in the face of the superpower countries and lured world investors to venture in Africa.

President Kagame together with President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger spearheaded the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the agreement aims at forming a big single market for the whole continent which will see Africans move freely across the continent, trade between themselves and compete on the international arena with high-quality products and advanced skilled personnel; this will ramp up the African made products, agricultural produces, mineral resources’ value on the international market; Moreover AfCFTA will bring together various experts from all corners paving way for the modern industrialization, innovations in Information, Communication and Technologies, infrastructure development that will see the content prosper, stabilize and achieve its Agenda 2063.

The first task awaiting President Fattah is to lead the AfCFTA to its realization, a few countries remaining should sign the protocol and push the protocol ratification which will see the trade agreement coming into force; it will involve advocating for the trade agreement’s ownership, it should not only be left to the presidents but also to all Africans, they need to own it, understand the essence of having it and its benefits from the ordinary African to the elite class.

President Fattah as the new AU chair should advance the fight against terrorism on the continent; Somali has emerged as a serious threat to the continent security by the presence of Al Shabab on her soil as well as Nigeria’s BokoHaram; Fattah should advocate for the African Union force currently in peacekeeping missions in different states; Fattah should lead the funds mobilization for the force empowerment and capacity building; the continental force should be fully equipped with modern skills and techniques and to be to fight terror groups in the new security landscape. Fattah should as well put in place ways to counter the emerging insurgencies within AU member states, FDLR, ADF, Mai Mai of the Great Lakes region, the Sinai insurgency in Egypt, the Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic (CCMSR) in Chad, the terror groups in Libya, Insurgency organised by terrorists activities in the Maghreb and Sahel regions of North Africa.

Africa faces yet another issue of the insecurity in the Sahel region; during President Kagame reign at the AU chairmanship, Rwanda pledged one million dollars (USD1, 000,000) to the operationalization of the G5, a Sahel Joint Force composed of five member states, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad aimed at uprooting the terror groups in the region; the region has been hit by terrorists linked to extremist groups Al Qaeda and Islamic State. The new AU chair has got to prioritize this issue, put more efforts in empowering the G5 force to be to neutralize the threats posed by the terror groups within the Sahel region.

There is urgent need to advance collaboration between regional blocks such East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with respect to mutual interest between member countries; Africa could achieve its agenda partially through successful regional blocks; member states need to join efforts towards pushing the same agenda by ensuring peace and stability, eased doing business, free movement of people and properties among member states; this will definitely expedite the accomplishment of Africa’s development goals.

However this is not a one country or man’s game; it’s not about who is at the helm of the AU Commission chairmanship, no way; Africa will collapse if members don’t agree on the new continent directions; Achieving Africa’s new Agenda is a process that requires every member state ownership and efforts; Africans should come together to join their efforts and face challenges at stake as one, parties have to play their respective roles in achieving the development goals; this will undoubtedly lead to the realization of the new Agenda

It is beyond any reasonable doubt that with the realization of the AfCFTA trade agreement, free movement of people and properties protocol; bringing a diverse people together will enhance knowledge sharing, bridge the skills gap between member states to lead to new innovations and exploitations of the African resources as opposed to the previous understanding of selling them cheaply to outsiders just to export them back to us at high costs; Africa will categorically excel in doing business with the rest of the world hence building a self-sufficient and aid-free continent.

Security has become a severe impediment to Africa’s development; the new African Union Chairperson together with the commissions should ensure peace and stability prevail in all member states so as to position Africa as an able strong and competent party on the international arena.

President Fattah should follow the in the footsteps of his predecessor by pushing Africa’s agenda 20163, face-lifting Africa’s distorted image on the international area; lure word investors to the continent and maintaining peace and stability which will ease doing business with Africa leading to the realization of the Agenda 2063.

The writer is a Political Analyst based in the Great Lakes Region.