27 May 2013
It was back to business for African heads of state as they began their two-day African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday morning.
The weekend has been characterised by celebrations in various parts of the continent to mark the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union (AU).
But the 21st Ordinary Session of the Summit of the African Union, which is closed to the media, is deliberating on more serious issues facing the continent and the ability of the so-called Vision 2063 strategy to enable the continent overcome its challenges over the next 50 years.
The high-level meeting is set to adopt several reports dealing with peace and security on the continent and the political and financial position of the AU.
South African President Jacob Zuma was scheduled to brief his fellow heads of state on the outcomes of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit held in Durban earlier this year, with a special focus on the BRICS Leaders’ Africa Dialogue Forum,
The leaders were also due to look at a report on funding options for the AU prepared by Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria and chairperson of the High-Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Funding the African Union.
While Africa has become home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world, the continental body has struggled to secure funding, with most of its member states struggling financially and dependent on external donors to supplement their budgets.
Previously, the panel recommended a number of proposals for more sustainable funding, including a $2 tax on hotel rooms on the continent and a $5 levy on flights to and from African countries.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Planning and Coordinating Agency admits that delays in payment of contributions by member states, coupled with the difficulty in accessing partner funds, are increasingly impacting negatively on the pace of implementation of the union’s activities, projects and programmes.
“These are major challenges that deserve urgent attention and all the technical analyses conducted so far have confirmed that options identified as alternatives to the current system of financing will not only have a significant revenue impact for the Union, but will also be equitable and efficient,” the agency said recently.
The AU Peace and Security Council was scheduled to table a report on its activities and the state of peace and security in Africa. The council has had a busy year trying to put out fires in conflict-ridden states such as Sudan and South Sudan.
The leaders were also set to discuss the political instability and conflict in Mali, the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Madagascar, which is in a political deadlock since a 2009 coup. Madagascar has been in crisis since Andry Rajoelina seized power from former President Marc Ravalomanana.
The UN says the instability in Madagascar has resulted in an economic downturn in the country, and international donors have been reluctant to continue with development aid amid uncertainty about how the money would be spent.