The arrival of any new leadership, in most cases, means innovations and a different way of going about daily business. With challenges like immigration, extremism, insecurity, and the funding of most activities by the African Union (AU) posing huge difficulties for member countries over the years, the 30th Ordinary Session of the AU that took place at the organisation’s Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, elected on 28th January 2018 a new bureau to pilot the activities of the Union for the year 2018. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda who has championed the need to reform the AU took over from Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea who has been chairing the Union for the past year 2017. Expectations are now high that the coming of another team at the head of the institution should herald some novelty, especially given the rather dependent posture that the AU has unfortunately portrayed since its creation. Mostly the European Union and, of late, China have been seen to take a pivotal position when it comes to providing financing for major projects generated by Africa leaders. Constantly moving cap in hand to seek for ways to get African initiatives off the ground has continually earned the continent names and it is no news that he who pays the piper dictates the tune. Consequently, some observers have often doubted the level of freedom that Africans could have over their own affairs if the means to achieve continental results must be provided with the help of donors. Evidently, no one doubts the primordial role of having good and able friends across the globe, but any inordinate dependence would always breed suspicion.
Yet, it must be admitted that perturbing colonial scars have often left a bitter after taste when the rich human and natural potentials of the African Continent are not always adequately used to benefit the peoples of Africa. Consequently, the current dynamic to implement a new AU programme aimed at adequate, predictable and sustainable funding that departs from having about 72 per cent of AU financing coming from external partners could be formidable if it works out well. With plans that a 0.2% levy on eligible imports should be expedited to enable the African Union to finance itself in the long term and also some critics think that the committee of Ten African Finance Ministers nominated to spearhead the process “must assume responsibility for oversight of the AU budget and Reserve Fund and develop a set of ‘golden rules’, establishing clear financial management and accountability principles and the establishment of the use of a Reserve Fund for continental priorities.”
May be the recent determination by President Kagame to upset certain clichés about Africa by holding on to his views and national pride in spite of foreign pressure could wade in to give the new AU endeavour the necessary boost to make a difference.