By Kebba Jeffang

The Gambian President Adama Barrow urged for inclusiveness as the African Union commences the reform process on its governance.

Barrow was addressing the 29th African Union Summit being held at the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He said the AU Reform process is compelled by the need to change the norm in which the Continental organization is being governed.  

“Through our Agenda 2063, we have summed up a vision for our Continent, a vision that is based on a peaceful, unified and prosperous Africa.  As a consequence, we should work together to achieve our noble goals for ourselves, and generations to come,” he said.

Barrow said the current challenges faced by the AU require a realistic and inclusive political leadership. He said there is a need to address the factors preventing them to effectively operate as a union through the reform process.

“The Consultative Meetings that were held in Kigali and Addis Ababa strengthened our confidence in the reform process.   We are hopeful that the consultations between the Members of the Pan-African Advisory Team, Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), African Union Commission (AUC) and our Ministers will continue to address the technical, legal and financial imperatives of the reform process,” he said.

He noted that it is prudent that while they work on the existing financial sources, they also embrace new financing mechanism.

According to him, the agreed 0.2% levy on eligible imports is a proposition for an independent and self-reliant Africa and we need to make it a reality.

“We commend the great work being done by the Group of Ten Finance Ministers and they are urged to expedite the process of developing the governance structures for the funds to be generated.

Our commitment towards the financing mechanism will be further enhanced if we are given clear assurances that the funds to be generated will be properly managed and utilized,” Barrow stated.

He commended Dr. Donald Kaberuka, AU High Representative for Peace Fund for all the governance mechanisms that have been developed for the Fund. He said it is vital that the implementation of the governance mechanisms is inclusive.

“In view of our decision on the format of our June/July Summits and the collaboration between our Union and the Regional Economic Communities, it is necessary that the latter are brought in the reform process. The proposed Consultative Forum that has been proposed needs to be convened as soon as possible,” he urged.

Barrow said they have recognized the link between the levels of political participation and the successful implementation of the decisions they take.   He said the decision for Member States to be represented at levels not below the ranks of a Prime Minister or Vice President in their High Level Meetings is acknowledged.

“However, it should be appreciated that our Foreign Ministers or Senior Members of our governments have the authority to fully represent us when designated to do so.  As such, we urge the Reform Team to be aware of this fact.

President Barrow pointed out that it is crucial that the administrative and governance structures of the continental organization are reviewed. He thanked the AU Commission for its planned institutional audit exercise. “Ultimately, it will reduce the administrative challenges of our organization. We must have the ability to bring our vision to reality. However, for this to be ultimately realized, the AU Commission on Institutional Audit Team and the AU Reform Team should work together,” he said.

He said they support the need to improve the perception towards their meetings which according to him need to be seen as platforms where issues that have impacts on the lives of citizens are discussed and decisions with far-reaching implications are made.

“Our citizens, especially our youths are important facilitators to this change. Their thinking could yield enriching ideas for the reform process. The discourse being undertaken on the reform process should not be confined solely to the AU. There needs to be a proactive engagement with our youths to seek their input,” he said.

Barrow finally thanked the Presidents of Guinea and Chad and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for their support of the reform process.

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