ADDIS ABABA – President Uhuru Kenyatta today said institutional reforms at the African Union will enhance its efficiency to serve Africa’s needs and aspirations.
The President said the AU Institutional Reform process is going to enhance the capacity of African nations to meet challenges and diversify their economies for increased resilience.
The President said Kenya also warmly welcomed the integration of the Sustainable Blue Economy component in the new structure of the AU.
President Kenyatta spoke at the 11th Extraordinary Session of The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The main focus of the Summit is the reform process of the AU, which is aimed at making the continental body more efficient and in tune to deliver on its mandate.
“Kenya supports the recommendation by the Executive Council to put in place a structure of an eight (8) member commission comprising of the Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and six Commissioners,” said President Kenyatta.
He also said Kenya supports the establishment of a non-elected post of Director General who will be responsible for the coordination of the work of non-elected members of the African Union Commission.
On the Sustainable Blue Economy component, President Kenyatta said it was a move in the right direction since the sector has immense untapped potential to contribute to Africa’s transformation and growth.
Kenya is spearheading a new global focus on the blue economy and is set to host an inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference later this month.
“It is in this regard, that I once again invite Your Excellencies to the forthcoming High Level Sustainable Blue Economy Conference to be held in Nairobi, from 26th to 28th November, 2018, a forum that will afford us an excellent opportunity to engage further on this important topic,” said the President.
President Kenyatta further advised the AU Commission to ensure that even as it goes on with the new reforms, it should guard against duplication and overlap of responsibilities to improve overall coherence and efficiency in line with best practices.
“In order to take member states and regions on board, we welcome the intention to respect gender parity, and inter and intra-regional rotation, and commend the leadership for the proposal to have a 35% threshold of youth in the selection process,” President Kenyatta said.
The President underscored the importance of the full implementation of the new structures in order to drive the continental body to attain the “Africa we want” ambition as outlined in its Agenda 2063.
President Kenyatta congratulated his Rwandan counterpart, President Paul Kagame, who is the outgoing AU Chairperson, “for his steadfast and able stewardship of the AU reform process.”
He also congratulated Ethiopia “for the historic political step in electing the first female President in the country, H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde.”
While in Ethiopia, the President had lunch with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and later paid a courtesy call on President Zewde.
President Kenyatta congratulated President Zewde on her election and pledged Kenya’s continued support.
While inviting President Zewde to visit Kenya soon, President Kenyatta promised to lead a trade delegation to Ethiopia next year to explore avenues to deepen the growing trade ties between the two countries.
On her part, the Ethiopian President thanked President Kenyatta for Kenya’s outstanding leadership role in the region especially in economic, social integration, peace and security matters.
President Zewde said she had acquired valuable leadership lessons during her past interactions with President Kenyatta and pledged to work even more closely with the Kenyan leader like she did while serving the UN in Nairobi.
The new President sent her greetings to First Lady Margaret Kenyatta whom she described as a close friend and a big inspiration to women leaders in Africa.
President Kenyatta and PM Abiy spoke about the need to enhance trade ties between Kenya and Ethiopia, and agreed to explore joint ventures especially in the establishment and operation of Special Economic Zones.
The two leaders also spoke about regional security and the need to make border areas safe for business.
The President applauded the Ethiopian Prime Minister for his strong support for women leaders as seen through the election of the first Ethiopian woman President and the recent Cabinet reshuffle that saw more women earn ministerial appointments.
PM Abiy told President Kenyatta that Ethiopia was committed to achieving a united and prosperous continent. He said, under his leadership, Ethiopia would remain at the forefront in pushing for African unity and progress.