Africa cannot integrate while relying on donors, says Ruto

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President William Ruto has urged African nations to strive to be self-reliant for the continent to realise its dream of integration.

More than 60 per cent of the continent’s budget is financed by overseas partners.

Addressing the opening session of the 5th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the African Union in Nairobi, Ruto said this makes it difficult to integrate.

“The demands of our challenging time require an AU that can pursue multiple, urgent and critical interventions using internally mobilised resources,” he said.

Ruto said the pan-African movement has always been about sovereignty, and chronic dependence on well-meaning partners is starkly inconsistent with the aspiration.

The most compelling signal that African integration is unstoppable, and that it will open doors for unprecedented socioeconomic transformation, is the progress made in implementing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, he said.

“We must all be proud of this magnificent project, a historic achievement by and for ourselves, whose positive effects will reverberate throughout the world for a long time to come,” Ruto said.

Under AFCFTA, 54 countries have agreed to create a single market with a population of 1.4 billion and Gross Domestic Product of $3.4 trillion.

The free trade area is projected to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and boost incomes by 7 per cent, or $450 billion, by 2035.

“As I have had occasion to remark before elsewhere, this is the magnitude of what typical pan-African collective action can achieve, and we are only getting started,” Ruto said.

He said the AU has made progress by collaborating in different domains, including peace and security, regional integration, investment, trade and development and climate change.

Ruto said Agenda 2063 is the continent’s blueprint to deliver the pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

“Therefore, it is more critical now than ever before that we marshal our collective consciousness, willpower, solidarity and unity to fulfil our fundamental generational mandate of introducing Africa as a new global power,” he said.

It should be presented as ready and able to provide leadership towards a new industrial age that shall simultaneously usher in an era of inclusive development, shared prosperity and effective climate action, he said.

Ruto said the continent must make progress in exploring, developing and implementing solutions like the Kigali Decision (AU Decision 605 of 2016).

In July 2016, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted the decision, directing all African Union Member States to implement a 0.2 per cent levy on eligible imports to finance the African Union.

Ruto said it is time to free up the African Union from structural and organisational constraints, including duplication and other inefficiencies, thereby facilitating it to be effective on a greater scale.

He called on countries to pay special attention to the Africa Climate Summit, which will take place in Nairobi from September 4-6.

Ruto said the summit will be a critical opportunity for the continent to accelerate global energy transition and deliver African solutions to COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.