ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY ADAMA BARROW, PRESIDENT OF THE GAMBIA AT THE 29TH ORDINARY SESSION OF THE SUMMIT OF THE AFRICAN UNION ADDIS ABABA – 3RD JUNE, 2017
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Mr. Chairperson,

All protocols duly observed.

I take this opportunity to thank His Excellency President Paul Kagame for his inspiring leadership and I congratulate him and the members of his Pan-African Advisory Team for the quality and excellent work they are performing in our reform process. I also thank the Presidents of Guinea and Chad and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for their support of the process.

Mr. Chairperson,

The AU Reform process is compelled by the need to change the norm in which our continental organisation 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.Consequently, we should work together to achieve our noble goals for ourselves, and generations to come.

The current challenges faced by our continental organisation require realistic and inclusive political leadership. Through the reform process, we need to address the factors preventing us from operating effectively as a union.

Mr. Chairperson,

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, the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC), the African Union Commission (AUC) and our Ministers will continue to address the technical, legal and financial imperatives of the reform process.

Mr. Chairperson,

We can hardly overemphasise the importance of our agreed financing mechanism. It is only prudent that while we work on our existing financial sources, that we also embrace new financing mechanism.

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 we urge them to expedite the process of developing the governance structures for the generation of funds. 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 utilised.

In the same vein, we commend Dr. Donald Kaberuka, AU High Representative for the Peace Fund for all the governance mechanisms that have been developed for the Fund. It is vital that the implementation of the governance structures be inclusive.

Mr. Chairperson,

In view of our decision on the format of our June/July summits and the collaboration between our African Union and the regional economic communities, it is necessary that the latter be brought into the reform process. The proposed Consultative Forum  needs to be convened as soon as possible.

We recognise the link between the levels of political participation and the successful implementation of our decisions. We acknowledge the decision for AU Member States to be represented at levels no lower than Prime Minister or Vice President at our High Level Meetings. 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. We therefore urge the Reform Team to be aware of this fact.

Mr. Chairperson,

It is crucial that the administrative and governance structures of our continental organisation are reviewed. We thank the AU Commission for its planned institutional audit exercise. Ultimately, it will reduce the administrative challenges of our organisation. We must have the ability to bring our vision to reality. However, for this to be ultimately realised, the AU Commission Institutional Audit Team and the AU Reform Team should work together.

We also support the need to improve the perception of our meetings. They need to be seen as platforms where issues that have impacts on the lives of our citizens are discussed and where decisions with far-reaching implications are made.

Our citizens, especially our youth, 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 youth to seek their input.

On this note, I would like to thank you all.