African leaders meeting, where they are all together, is a very good thing. We should not present ourselves on the world stage as tiny little countries, and therefore, once in a while we need to use symbolism. An achievement, yes it is of regular meetings of African leaders showing that we are united. This is a very important thing for Africa. We have to show ourselves as existing, we have to remind the rest of the world that we are there.
What our leaders discuss in those meetings, however, has to be debated. My misgivings are on how the African Union likes to model itself on other unions, like the European Union. If you quantify the expenditure that is incurred for our leaders to meet in relation to our standards of living, it puts a moral questioning to our leaders. We need to do better on what the African Union is set up to do – greater integration among ourselves.
It costs more and it takes longer for one to travel within Africa than one to travel to Europe. It is expensive for me to move from Uganda to West Africa. It is extremely expensive for me to trade with Africa and it is easier to trade with the EU. Look at how wide open Uganda’s borders are – we are flooded with EU products, we are flooded with products from the United States of America, but our products are constantly facing all sorts of funny little things of you-can’t-bring-it-here. It has nothing to do with quality.
To some degree our leaders have achieved greater solidarity. Even though that unity and solidarity might be questioned by some, the unity and solidarity that they showed when His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta was facing the whole International Criminal Court business, they refused to shun him – that is solidarity. And at the end of the day, the charges were dropped. By sticking with him, that is solidarity, it is unity, for better or for worse, it is solidarity.
This post contains views that I expressed on the evening of 2nd February 2015, on Spectrum on Radio One FM90, during which I had the honour to debate two distinguished African leaders – Ambassador Kintu Nyago who is the Deputy Head of the Uganda Mission at the UN and Mr. Godber Tumushabe who is the Associate Director at the Great Lakes Institute for strategic studies on the topic: “What benefits Africa got from the holding of the 2012 African Union Summit. The debate was moderated by Mr. Edmond Kizito.