President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on Monday delivered a USD1 million cheque to the African Union (AU) Foundation, as a “humble gesture” to help push the regional block toward financial independence.
Mr. Mugabe made the donation during the opening of the 29th AU summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
He was fulfilling a pledge made during his tenure as rotating AU chairman, at the 25th AU summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Handing over the cheque, Mr. Mugabe said the “modest” donation “demonstrates what is possible when we apply our mind to the most urgent task before us, … of funding our union and in particular Agenda 2063.”
Launched in January 2015, the AU Foundation is tasked with finding new ways of generating domestic resources to fund African development programs and support Agenda 2063, an ambitious blueprint for future development of the continent.
The bulk of AU’s budgets are financed by foreign donors like the European Union, United States, China, World Bank and the United Kingdom.
AU’s budget grew from $278.2m in 2013 to $393.4m in 2015, with external financing also rising from 56% to 61.7% in those years.
Mr. Mugabe said funding independence is vital to Africa’s future.
“Unless and until we can fund our own programs, the African Union will not be our own,” he said, referring to a decision made in 2016 at the 27th AU summit to eventually be able to finance 100 percent of its operational budget, 75 per cent of its programmes budget, and 25 per cent of its peacekeeping budget.
The decision requires that member countries contribute 0.2 per cent of their import levy to AU coffers.
Mr. Mugabe said: “It is never going to be easy to wean ourselves from the ‘donor-dependency syndrome,’ but we need to forge ahead for our sake and that of our future generations.
“This modest contribution… is a symbolic step in that direction.
“Let us build our continent brick by brick, stone by stone.”
According to Moussa Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, the 0.2-per cent import levy requirement, originally scheduled to come into effect in January 2017, has yet to be fully complied by all member countries.
The AU hopes to be able to meet all its operational funding needs by the year 2022.