Obasanjo praised the levy, describing the plan as “measurable, equitable and sustainable”.
Former Nigerian President and Tana Forum Board Chairperson, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, officially launched the 7th Tana Forum today, which will take place on 21-22 April 2018. This year’s theme, ‘Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union’, corresponds with the ongoing AU reform process to ensure the organization’s long-term financial independence and sustainability. The keynote speaker for the 7th Tana Forum is President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and also the current African Union (AU) Chairperson. He put together an advisory team whose recommendations on AU reforms were formally adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2017.
Noting that the AU faces a rapidly changing security environment, Obasanjo emphasized that security is only one aspect of the current reform process. “We cannot talk about security without talking about financing,” he stated.
The current financial structure of the AU, where partners cover 60% of the budget, questions how African member states are expected to have ownership over their security while at the same time remaining reliant on external donors.
One of the major components of the reform plan is the 0.2% levy, which will be imposed on eligible imports from outside Africa. Obasanjo praised the levy, describing the plan as “measurable, equitable and sustainable”. He also remained positive when questioned on the political will required from member states to guarantee the reform’s implementation. “It is not the first time such an initiative is happening in Africa. For instance, ECOWAS did it before, and it has been fairly successful in West Africa”.
The Tana Forum’s financial independence – 70% of funds are provided by the Ethiopian government and the African private sector – was also noted as another example that encourages African ownership in setting the agenda and driving the narrative. The Forum’s participants, its board members, its technical committee, its partners, and its organizing secretariat at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, all represent a diverse grouping of African stakeholders in the area of peace and security.
In response to a question about the Forum’s effectiveness in bringing about changes in African leadership, the former president clarified that the Forum does not require or expect the implementation of its recommendations. Instead, its added value is in creating a space for the exchange of ideas and policies from around the continent. Furthermore, the Forum’s impact might not always be clear or credited, he stated, but “it’s good enough for us that African leaders make use of it”.
On the recently signed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement, and the notable lack of Nigeria’s signature, Obasanjo was optimistic that the government would soon sign the agreement after holding national consultations with the necessary actors, including the parliament.
The press conference was later followed by a briefing with ambassadors and partners based in Addis Ababa. IPSS Director, Dr. Kidane Kiros, noted that one of the biggest setbacks with the AU reform agenda is compliance by member states when it comes to the implementation of various policies.
Obasanjo also noted that for effective implementation of AU reforms, trust has to be built between Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the AU Commission and individual African countries.
About the Tana Forum
The Tana Forum is an annual platform that brings together African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions. It is a response to the call by African Heads of State and Government for the elaboration of “African-centred solutions“ in the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict in the August 2009 Tripoli Declaration on the Elimination of Conflicts in Africa and the Promotion of Sustainable Peace.
*Source Tana Forum.