The African Union has taken a decisive, albeit belated step, to put its house in order by attempting to fund 100% of its operations and at least 75% of its programmes. The body whose current budget is $ 500 million has previously seen over 70% its operations financed by donor funding. The body hopes to raise its revenue by levying a clutch of taxes on its citizens, with airline tickets, text messages and hotel stays among the early targets.
Political overtones aside, this is a bold move. However, whether it will succeed will depend on the commitment of the member states and how the body balances between stimulating productivity on one hand and apparently punishing the productive sector on the other. Most African governments (except South Africa, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Nigeria) have not been honoring their pledges towards the body. Players in the tourism industry are already jittery as they feel the industry is unduly targeted, especially as resource industries are off the hook.
The body’s bold move should trickle down to the regional economic communities which suffer the same weakness. The Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s $88 million budget, for example, is 61% funded by international partners, as is close to two thirds of the East African Community’s budget. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has a departure from this dependency as 95% of its budget is funded by members (one-third by Nigeria alone), and just 5% from donors.
While strategic partnerships are healthy, Africa’s voice in the global arena shall be felt once the continent is able to manage and bankroll its own affairs.