Kagame picks Zimbabwean Strive Masiyiwa among nine experts to work with on AU reforms

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President Paul Kagame has named a team of nine eminent Africans to work with on the task of reforming the African Union.

TOP LEFT: Dr Acha Leke, a senior partner with global consultancy firm, McKinsey & Co; Cristina Duarte, the former Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde; Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank; Dr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Mariam Mahamat Nour, the Minister of Economy, Planning, and International Cooperation, Chad; Nigeria's Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed; Strive Masiyiwa, a London-based Zimbabwean businessman; Tito Mboweni, former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank; and Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation.

TOP LEFT: Dr Acha Leke, a senior partner with global consultancy firm, McKinsey & Co; Cristina Duarte, the former Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde; Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank; Dr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Mariam Mahamat Nour, the Minister of Economy, Planning, and International Cooperation, Chad; Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed; Strive Masiyiwa, a London-based Zimbabwean businessman; Tito Mboweni, former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank; and Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation.

Kagame was tasked to preside over the process to reform the continental organisation during the 27th African Union Summit that was held in Kigali in July.

The goal is to transform the AU into a more effective and self-reliant institution.

Kagame’s AU reforms team comprises five men and four women with diverse expertise in both private and public sectors.

According to a statement from the Office of the President, the nine include Dr Donald Kaberuka, the former president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Finance minister of Rwanda, who is currently the High Representative for the African Union Peace Fund, among other duties; former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr Carlos Lopes, from Guinea-Bissau; and Strive Masiyiwa, a London-based Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, who founded and leads diversified international telecommunications group Econet Wireless.

President Kagame also named Cristina Duarte, the former Minister of Finance of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), who sits on the boards of governors for both the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund; and Dr Acha Leke, a Senior Partner with global consultancy firm McKinsey & Co, on his AU team.

The President also picked Tito Mboweni, the former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, the first black man to hold the post in post-Apartheid South Africa, with Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Amina J. Mohammed also joining the team. Mohammed worked as Special Adviser of the UN Secretary General on Post- 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Other members of the AU reforms team are Mariam Mahamat Nour, the Minister of Economy, Planning, and International Cooperation, Republic of Chad; and Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation, a World Bank affiliated entity.

Almost all the members worked in economic and policy development fields.

The team has already started consultations with member states on the envisaged reforms and is scheduled to convene in Kigali next week, according to the statement.

“President Paul Kagame has initiated a wide-ranging process of consultations with Member States in advance of his report to the 28th AU Summit in January 2017,” reads part of the statement.

Speaking at the Kigali AU Summit in July, the current Chairperson of the bloc, President Idriss Déby of Chad, said the choice of Kagame to spearhead the assignment was premised on his record.

“I am convinced that President Kagame has well understood the heavy task of proposing to us an extensive reform of the Union; his work will have his mark of know-how,” Déby said.

The key task for the team is to ensure the AU weans itself off foreign aid, thereby making the organisation more efficient and economically independent.

At the Kigali summit, a new funding model was adopted that seeks to make AU operations exclusively funded by contributions from member states.

Under the new model, member states are expected to contribute 0.2 per cent of proceeds from levy on eligible imports to fund operations of the organisation.

Considered AU’s most ambitious undertaking in recent years, the organisation hopes to raise approximately $1.2 billion, annually, beginning next year through this new funding model-newtimes

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