African Union Commission Puts Forward Draft Budget To Pan-African Parliament
10 May 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa – Vice President of the African Union (AU) Commission H.E Mr. Erastus Mwencha presented the Draft 2017 Budget to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), calling for continental self-funding to lessen the dependence on external sources of funding.
The budget embraces the alternative source of financing (ASF) initiative, where 100% of the operating budget, 75% of the programme budget and 25% of the peace and security budget will be financed from the continent.
The 2017 budget provides AU organs, including the PAP, with the opportunity to align its programmes with its 10-year implementation plans for Agenda 2063.
H.E Mwencha provided the context in which the budget was drafted, focussing on the socio-economic challenges and opportunities the continent faced in the last 12 months.
A drastic fall in commodity prices has hurt African economies more than other global markets. Oil prices witnessed unprecedented low levels due to reduced US imports, possibly indicating the end of oil boom prices. This rapid decline in commodity prices have caused budget deficits across the continent, he said.
A second challenge was the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Causing widespread devastation, the outbreak saw the infection of 30 000 people and the death of 12 000. The virus was contained thanks to the efforts of resident countries, the African Union and the international community, but it came at a heavy cost to the continent, halting economic progress.
The outbreak further pointed to the critical need to strengthen Africa’s weak health services and therefore the 2017 budget includes proposed funding for the African Centre for Disease Control. “You as lawmakers have an opportunity to provide leadership in this regard, and push for national investments in health facilities in your respective countries,” said Mwencha.
Continental conflict, although it has reduced, has not been extinguished, and the cost of unrest in Somalia and the Eastern DRC continues to plague the continent. The situation in Mali and the Central African Republic has stabilised, but terrorist forces in Nigeria and Libya still threatens continental stability, he said.
Internal and cross-border terrorism linked to Al Qaeda and Isis calls for a major review in security as Africans commit towards the pledge to silence guns by 2020, said Mwencha. The AU Peace Missions have been in discussion with the United Nations for predictable and adequate financing, bearing in mind that 75% of its missions is in Africa. Already, China has committed US$100 million to peace and security.
The migration crisis has also escalated over the past 12 months calling for a comprehensive approach that does not merely address the symptoms. Mwencha said these solutions lie in the transformation and industrialisation of economies to provide jobs and tackle poverty as the root cause of migration.
Fear of an emerging market slowdown threatens the continent’s economy with multinational funds pulling investments from capital markets, more so than in other frontier markets.
At an average 3.8% the economic growth rate is far below the minimum required growth rate of 7%, said Mwencha.
He also highlighted home-grown problems such as the impact of corruption, evident in the alleged US$150 billion that left Africa’s shore, as the leaked Panama Papers revealed.
Mwencha said on the other hand, that there are many positive elements to highlight during the past 12 months. The continent’s promise lies in the large population of young people. By 2050, 25% of the global workforce will be from Africa. This human capital gave rise to the budget’s theme of harnessing the democratic dividend through investment in the youth.
The continent has also made giant leaps in the advancement of gender equity, said Mwencha as he lauded the PAP for having a 60% representation of women within the Bureau, more than the AUC, with only 50%.
Although the African Agenda 2063, with its 10-year implementation plan is now firmly in place, Mwencha called for the domestication of the Agenda within parliamentarians’ respective national development plans to ensure substantial impact.
He also said that it is the first time for the global agenda in the form of the Sustainable Development Goals, to be so closely aligned with the African agenda. The Common African Position played a key role in the development of the SDGs, unlike previous global development agendas where African programmes were seconded or ignored, or where others developed programmes they deemed fit for Africa’s growh.
This alignment of development agendas presented a platform for a fully integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent, one that Mwencha hoped the members of this plenary would see in their lifetime.
“We must focus our collective energy and strength to unite our people, continue to use the private sector more effectively, increase diversification and speed up regional integration if we have to take advantage of the tailwinds the continent has enjoyed in the last decade,” Mwencha concluded.
The executive council will assess the draft budget, for adoption in July 2016.