Friday, July 09, 2004

African Union: who pays?

The third African Union (AU) Summit was held July 6-8 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The following is the first of eight summit summaries.

Paying the bills.

According to BBC Focus on Africa's Hassan Arouni, the final decision about how to fund the AU's various objectives has been postponed till later this year when the AU's Executive Council will meet to decide which of the organization's objectives to implement first ... or even if its objectives will have to be scaled down.

The AU has set out an ambitious agenda ...
They have set out a strategy calling for an average annual expenditure of $571 million over the next three years to fund everything from a new African Court of Justice to basic education and health programmes for hundreds of millions of Africa's poor.

[...] The AU has only $12 million coming in to its current annual budget of about $43 million. A number of poor countries -- and Africa has a lot of them -- this year asked the AU to let them slide on their contributions, but were turned down flat. (source)
Here are the costs of specific goals ...
The Darfur operation alone will cost 26 million dollars.

[...] Key AU institutions that will require substantial funding include a standby force to intervene in humanitarian and natural disasters, and a pan-African parliament that will sit in South Africa. The price tag for the intervention force is put at 200 million dollars, while the parliament will cost 30 million dollars. Three million dollars have been budgeted for an African court of justice.

In addition, 600 million dollars would be ploughed over three years into the much-heralded New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD): an anti-poverty blueprint that seeks to attract more investment to the continent through improved governance.

But, Obasanjo argues that part of the problem facing the continent is the "unfulfilled commitments" of rich nations to provide the resources they have already committed themselves to.

"The list of unfulfilled commitments by our development partners is growing long," he said at a progress report on NEPAD, on Wednesday. (source)
Besides foreign donors, a number of other funding sources were considered ...
[...] member states contributing 0.5% of their national budget to the AU.

[...] Other suggestions to raise the money included a special tax on air transportation in Africa, value added tax on certain products, approaching the organised private sector in Africa and even "galvanising" prominent African athletes in the African diaspora to contribute funds.

Asked about sanctions on countries that do not pay, [AU spokesperson Desmond] Orjiako said these included not employing nationals of culprit countries in the AU administration. These countries would also not be allowed to take the floor in decision-making processes of the AU.

Orjiako said a "rescheduling plan" had been worked out for those countries that default on AU payments so that they could pay the monies owed in instalments. (source)
I haven't found confirmation of this ... but in a story published the day before the Summit began, Dr. Christopher Landsberg, director of the Centre for Policy Studies in Johannesburg, said that five countries -- South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt and Libya -- had agreed to pay for nearly half of the budget.


Oh yes ... the UN recently took over the AU's Burundi peacekeeping operation because the AU could no longer afford it. As for the observer mission in Darfur, it's being largely funded by donors. We get some of the numbers in the report delivered to the Peace and Security Council by AU Commission Chairperson Alpha Konare ...
The budget of the AU Observer Mission in Darfur amounts to about 26 million dollars. Some AU partners have pledged to pay part of the budget in monetary terms, while others have pledged to contribute in kind. The EU has pledged 12 million Euros, while Germany has pledged 250,000 Euros; the UK has already provided 3,6 million dollars and the USA is in the process of operationalizing the Headquarters and the sites for the various sectors. It is my sincere hope that AU Member States will also contribute to the funding of the AU Observer Mission in Darfur. (source)