On September 21, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted a conversation with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, where he presented his vision for how a reformed AU can best contribute to prosperity across the continent. In his opening remarks, President Kagame covered his recommendations for creating and supporting a more effective and unified African Union. His recommendations fall into four broad categories: (1) focusing on key priorities with a continental scope; (2) realigning AU institutions to deliver on its priorities; (3) managing the AU effectively at both the political and operational levels, and (4) sustainably self-financing the AU. Now that these suggested reforms are out there, the AU faces the challenge of implementation.
President Kagame began his remarks emphasizing that a strong, effective African Union is not only good for Africa, but for the world. He called upon African countries to more forcefully push for self-sustaining financing in order to address the donor-country relationship:
Also in his remarks, President Kagame emphasized a growing trend in global politics: Africa speaking with one voice. In global forums, such as climate change negotiations, the African countries are stronger when they speak together. Intra-African trade boosts the economies of each country’s neighbor. And security challenges become much less overwhelming when Africa works together:
During the audience question-and-answer portion of the event, President Kagame was repeatedly asked about one of the biggest challenges facing the continent: the rapidly growing youth population. Audience members wanted to know: How do we engage the youth? President Kagame agreed that young people need to be more engaged and that leaders should prioritize this challenge, but also noted that the youth need to respond as well: