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AU moves to ensure reliable, alternative funding

Worried by the precarious funding of the African Union (AU), African leaders rose from their (23 June – 1 July) 17th Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, demanding predictable, reliable and sustainable resources to enable the Pan African Organization to fulfill its mandate.

Analysts believe that the dire financial situation of the Union was caused by delays in  honoring assessed contributions by Member States and the complexities of accessing partner funds, therefore underscoring the need to identify additional sources of financing the activities of the Union.

According to the decisions reached at the Summit, African leaders has requested the AU Commission to actively pursue the effective implementation of the various decisions of the Assembly regarding alternative sources of financing the AU.

They took note of the progress made towards the setting up of a High Level Panel of Eminent Personalities with a view to engaging with Member States and coming up with definitive proposals to the long-standing financing issue as per the January 2011 Executive Council Decision.

Midway into 2011, only Algeria, Angola, Eritrea, Lesotho, Mauritius,Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Rwanda have fully paid their contributions, including the current year assessment; 26 are in arrears; 16 have no arrears but have yet to pay for the current year while two have cleared their arrears and paid part of current year assessment.

Equatorial Guinea, the only member state to have pledged a voluntary contribution to the commission’s programme, has yet to honour its pledge of US$ 370,000.

The total contributions from member states so far amount to US$ 43.8 million, which is 35.7% of the total assessed contribution.

To compound the commission’s problems, only three out of the 28 expected contributions from AU partners have been paid, amounting to US$ 20.6 million out of the US$124 million that was pledged.

The low payment rate has been attributed to the delay in signing the ‘Pooled Partners Agreement’, which was only signed in June instead of the first quarter of the year.

The low payment of the assessed contributions has worried the AU’s sub-committee on contribution, which has recommended that member states be made to pay their assessed contributions at the beginning of the year to alleviate the financial constraints being faced by the commission.

The committee also urged the commission to continue to remind member states that have yet to pay that they risk falling under sanctions.

So far, only two member states, Central African Republic and Guinea Bissau, are under sanctions because they have not cleared their arrears.

The exemption from sanctions granted DR Congo will be extended for as long as it honours its payment commitments, the committee said.

Requesting the Commission to expedite action on the Panel and take all necessary measures to facilitate its work, the Assembly appealed to all Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to provide all the necessary support to the Panel to ensure a successful outcome of the consultations.

It requested the Panel to undertake the consultations in a timely manner and report to the next Ordinary Session of the Assembly trough the Executive Council, in January 2012.

On Specialised Technical Committees (STC), the Assembly decided that each STC should meet at the level of ministers and experts once every two years, except the STC on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration, the STC on Gender and Women Empowerment and the STC on Defense and Security which shall meet once a year in ordinary session and an extra Ordinary Session if need be.

The Commission in collaboration with the Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC) through its Sub-Committee on Administrative, Budgetary and Financial Matters, shall determine the financial implications of meetings of each STC; decided that the  Coordinating Mechanism of the STCs shall be made up of the Bureaux of the various STCs in order to ensure that the STCs take a global view of the policies, programmes and activities of the Union and authorised that it meets once every year and that the Chairpersons of the various STCs attend the sessions of the Executive Council.

They further decided that the Commission would be responsible for convening and servicing all the meetings of the STCs in order to ensure synergy with other Organs and institutions and ultimately with the Executive Council, requesting the Commission to operationalize the STCs from January 2013 and thereafter abolish the Sectoral Ministerial Conferences

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