Infographic: Financing the African Union
With a view to providing a sustainable source of finance for the AU, African Heads of State appointed Dr. Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank, as the High Representative for the AU Peace Fund in 2015 and tasked him with formulating a clear roadmap for financing AU’s activities.
03 July 2017
Securing the financial independence of the African Union (AU) has always been an elusive matter for leaders of the continent. Despite the fact that the transition from the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to the AU in 2002 led to the creation of a more robust continental institution with a broadened mandate, African leaders are yet to sufficiently provide the AU with a sustainable finance to fund its activities.
The lack of predictable and reliable finances forces the AU to depend on foreign grants for the majority of its budget. In 2016, international partners covered 59% of the AU budget, the following year their contribution grew to 63%. This dependence poses challenges for the role of African countries in decision-making. For example, African peace operations led by the AU need UN authorization (in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN charter).
With a view to providing a sustainable source of finance for the AU, African Heads of State appointed Dr. Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank, as the High Representative for the AU Peace Fund in 2015 and tasked him with formulating a clear roadmap for financing AU’s activities. The 27th AU Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016, approved Dr. Kaberuka’s recommendations, which provided a mechanism for member states to fully fund the functioning of the AU Commission and cover 25% of African peace operations. The plan expects to raise $65 million a year from each of the continent’s five sub-regions ($325 million total) through a levy of 0.2% on selected imports into Africa. This provision will increase to $80 million per region by 2020.
The implementation of the plan is expected to upgrade the AU’s status as a credible organization and elevate its relationship with the UN and other international organizations. The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), which includes the Peace and Security Council (PSC) will also benefit from the arrangement, which will provide it with the necessary finances to effectively intervene in conflicts before they escalate.
A lack of predictable and sustainable financing has been a major constraint for the AU in effectively maintaining regional peace and security. The European Union’s decision to cut funding of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 20% in 2016 resulted in a near crisis as the AU was unable to step in and rectify. In the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali, meanwhile, the UN took over missions earlier than was desirable because the AU and troop contributing countries did not have the necessary resources to continue. These challenges could now be more preventable, including at the mission startup phase.
The commitment to providing the required financial means to the AU ultimately lies with African leaders. States will need to align their national goals to continental and regional plans and implement decisions made towards creating an effective and efficient institution that matches the demands of the African citizenry.