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The 28th African Union Heads of State Summit holding from January 22 to 31, 2017 will be my 4th in a row. This year’s summit with the theme ‘Harnessing the demographic dividends through investment in youth’ is significant for a number of reasons and i’ll highlight them below:

  1. A new chairperson will emerge: The tenure of the AU’s first female chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumais finally coming to an end. Inconclusive elections in Kigali in July 2016, saw the process postponed until January 2017 and extended her tenure by additional 6 months. Madam Zuma definitely has a long lists of achievements, and possibly regrets but the AU’s response to the Ebola crisis will be one of her finest moments in office. 5 candidates are currently jostling to be the chairperson of the AU, they are: Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi—Botswana’s foreign minister; Moussa Faki Mahamat—Chad’s foreign minister; Agapito Mba Mokuy– Equatorial Guinea’s foreign minister; Amina Mohamed– Kenya’s foreign minister; Abdoulaye Bathily—Former UN special envoy to Central African Republic and Senegalese environment minister. Although the elections are only open to Heads of State, this year’s electoral process, for the first time, included a public debate between the 5 candidates. I hope this becomes a regular practise
  2. More elections: If you don’t know how the AU functions, just note that the AU has 8 commissioners, one deputy chairperson and a chairperson. All these are elective positions and elections into these positions will be done during this year’s summit. Of particular interest to me is the position of Commissioner for Peace and Security as a Nigerian, Fatima … has been put forward for this position by ECOWAS, Like i said in a tweet, I am rooting for her!
  3. Can AU finance itself? At this year’s summit, talks about AU’s finance is also on the table. It is on record that development assistance from multi-lateral partners account for more than 80% of the AU’s budget. The commission is concerned about this and it took a major step last July in Kigali to fund the AU through a 0.2% levy on eligible imports into member states starting from January 2017. If implemented, the AU will see a jump in revenue as about 30 Member States default in its annual dues either partially or completely on average, annually
  4. Reforming the AU: Beyond the financing of the AU, is also the bigger picture about reforms. As AU commits to Agenda 2063, an ambitious plan to ensure the socio-economic transformation of Africa over 50 years, it is important that the behemoth is fit for purpose and retooled to drive this agenda. The discussions around reforms will be taken forward at the summit
  5. Morocco’s application to re-join the AU: As part of its agenda, the AU will decide on wether to re-admit Morocco into the union 33 years after it pulled out. the Kingdom of Morocco pulled out of the union in 1984 in protest of the recognition granted the Sahrawi Arab democratic republic by the union. Morocco seems to have realised that their is wisdom in fraternising with the union.

         There you have it! of course, there are a hundred more meetings that has or will happen as part of the summit              this January, but these are the ones that will dominate the discussions and take centre stage.

         Follow the hashtag #28thAUSummit for live-tweets from the summit

              By

     Rotimi Olawale.

 

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