Former Nigerian President and Tana Forum Board Chairperson, Olusegun Obasanjo, officially announced that the 7th Tana Forum will take place on April 21-22, 2018, at Bahir Dar. In a press conference held on Thursday March 29, 2018, Obasanjo officially disclosed the theme “Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union.”
During the press conference, he also highlighted the forum which corresponds with the ongoing African Union (AU) reform process to ensure its long-term financial independence and sustainability. The keynote speaker for the 7th edition of the forum is President of Rwanda and the current African Union (AU) Chairperson, Paul Kagame, who has also put together an advisory team whose recommendations on AU reforms were formally adopted by the AU Assembly in January 2017.
Noting that the AU faces a rapidly changing security environment, Obasanjo emphasized that security is only one aspect of the current reform process. “We cannot talk about security without talking about financing,” he stated.
The current financial structure of the AU, where partners across the globe cover 60 percent of the budget; questions how African member states are expected to have ownership over their security, while at the same time remaining reliant on external donors.
One of the major components of the reform plan by the AU is the 0.2 percent levy, which will be imposed on eligible imports from outside Africa.
Regarding the financial independence of the Tana Forum, he stated that 70 percent of the funds are provided by the Ethiopian government and the African private sector, and the rest comes from other partners.
In response to the question about the forum’s effectiveness in bringing about changes in African leadership, he stated that the forum does not require or expect the implementation of its recommendations. Furthermore, the forum’s impact might not always be clear or credited, but “it’s good enough for us that African leaders make good use of it,” he underlined.
On the recently signed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement, and the notable lack of Nigeria’s signature, Obasanjo was optimistic that the government would soon sign the agreement after holding national consultations with the necessary actors, including the parliament.