Deputy Chairperson Mwencha Holds Press Conference on AUC Strategic Plan, Institutional transformation and Boosting Intra-African Trade
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 27, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Mr. Erastus Mwencha, gave a press conference on Wednesday, 25th January 2012 at the AU headquarters, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The press conference was held with the aim of addressing the achievements and challenges of the Commission in terms of its approved 2012 budget, the 2008 – 2012 Strategic Plan as well as to underline the theme of the 18th AU Summit, “Boosting Intra-African Trade”. It was moderated by the Director of Information and Communication, Mrs. Habiba Mejri-Chiekh.
Noting that 2012 marks the ten year anniversary of the African Union since the transformation from the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Deputy Chairperson Mwencha underscored the significance of this Summit as Africa continues to face and proactively adapt to the swift changes taking place in the global arena.
Listing the four pillars of the Commission's Strategic Plan (2008 - 2012), Peace and Security; Development, Cooperation and Partnership; Shared Values; and Institution and Capacity Building; Mr. Mwencha made note of the achievements and challenges made in each of the pillars.
In regards to Peace and Security, Mr. Mwencha highlighted increased efforts by the AUC in ensuring stability within the continent through the implementation of critical peace and security architectures, Early Warning Systems as well as through increased presence on the ground with the African Standby Force despite the need for more funding.
Concerning Development, Cooperation and Partnership, the Deputy Chairperson underlined the implementation of key developmental programs in sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure as well as social welfare and education. He further acknowledged improved working relations with the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) and with the AU partners group, which has significantly impacted the effective use of resources.
With regards to shared values, Mr. Mwencha noted great progress in electoral processes and outlined the concerted efforts to increase the responsiveness of the Commission to the continent's challenges such as Governance, Climate Change and Drought through the implementation of Warning Systems and by properly promoting equitable representation for Africa in order to give the continent an audible voice in the global forums.
In relation to the last pillar, Institution and Capacity Building, the Deputy Chairperson stated that the approved 2012 budget of the Commission amounted to a total of USD274 Million with USD152 million set aside for development programs and USD122 Million for operations. Stressing the need to secure additional resources, he highlighted the establishment of a high level committee, lead by former President Obasanjo of Nigeria, focusing on the effective mobilization of the budget in key target areas. He also indicated the importance of human resource capacity building as an area of focus and emphasised the strength of key strategic international partnerships such as with the European Union, China, United Ntions, U.S.A., South America, Turkey, Japan, amongst others. The Deputy Chairperson further noted that according to statistical data, the removal of bottlenecks, bureaucracy, and border barriers could generate an increase in Africa's annual trade revenue by about USD34 billion.
Mr. Mwencha stated that one of the expected outcomes of this Summit is the creation of a road map and a structure promoting intra-African trade and assuring the laying of a foundation for a Continental Free Trade area to be established by 2017 through the Action Plan of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
Addressing some of the questions raised by the press on the election of the Commission, concerns over terrorism and the lessons learned from the Arab Spring, the Deputy Chairperson reaffirmed the AUC's proactive commitment towards security and development in the continent as well as its readiness to tackle unforeseen concerns.