Institutional reforms at the African Union (AU) will enhance its efficiency in meeting Africa’s needs and aspirations, President Uhuru Kenyatta has said.
The president said this on Saturday, noting the reforms process will enhance the capacity of African nations to face challenges and diversify their economies for increased resilience.
President Kenyatta spoke at the 11th Extraordinary Session of The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The main focus of the summit is the AU reform process, which is aimed at making the body more efficient in the delivery of its mandate.
President Kenyatta noted Kenya's support for the Executive Council's recommendation for an eight-member commission comprising the chairperson, deputy chairperson and six commissioners.
He also said Kenya supports the establishment of a non-elected post of director-general, who will coordinate the work of non-elected members of the African Union Commission (AUC).
President Kenyatta further advised the AUC to ensure that as it goes on with the reforms, it guards against duplication of roles to improve overall coherence and efficiency in line with best practices.
“In order to have member states and regions on board, we welcome the intention to respect gender parity and inter and intra-regional rotation, and commend the leadership for the proposal to have a 35 percent threshold of youth in the selection process."
The president underscored the importance of the full implementation of the new structures to drive the continental body to attain the "Africa we want" ambition as outlined in its Agenda 2063.
Mr Kenyatta also noted that Kenya warmly welcomed the integration of the sustainable blue economy component in the new structure of the AU.
The move, he said, is in the right direction since the sector has immense untapped potential to contribute to Africa’s transformation and growth.
Kenya is spearheading a new global focus on the blue economy and is set to host an inaugural Sustainable Blue Economy Conference later this month.
“It is in this regard, that I once again invite you to the High Level Sustainable Blue Economy Conference to be held in Nairobi from November 26 to 28, a forum that will afford us an excellent opportunity to engage further on this important topic,” said the president.
President Kenyatta congratulated his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, the outgoing AU chairperson, “for his steadfast and able stewardship" of the reforms process.
He also congratulated Ethiopia for the historic election of the first female president in the country, H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde.
Mr Kenyatta had lunch with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and later visited President Zewde.
He congratulated her on the election and pledged the country's support.
While inviting President Zewde to visit Kenya soon, he promised to lead a trade delegation to Ethiopia next year to explore avenues for deepening trade ties.
The Ethiopian President thanked President Kenyatta for Kenya's outstanding leadership role in the region, especially in economic, social integration, peace and security matters.
She said she acquired valuable leadership lessons during her past interactions with President Kenyatta and pledged to work more closely with him that she did while serving the United Nations in Nairobi.
She sent greetings to First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, whom she described as a close friend and a big inspiration to women leaders in Africa.
President Kenyatta and Mr Ahmed spoke about the need to enhance trade ties between Kenya and Ethiopia, and agreed to explore joint ventures especially in the establishment and operation of special economic zones.
They also discussed regional security and the need to make border areas safe for business.
The president applauded the PM for his strong support for women leaders, as seen through the election of Ms Zewde, and the recent Cabinet reshuffle that saw more women earn ministerial appointments.
Mr Ahmed told President Kenyatta that Ethiopia is committed to achieving a united and prosperous continent.
He said that under his leadership, Ethiopia will lead the push for African unity and progress.