The question on who should pay for peace and security operations in Africa has kept policymakers, and the international peace and security community, in Africa busy for some time – it still does.
In January 2016, the African Union (AU) appointed a high-level panel headed by Donald Kaberuka (PhD) to develop a mechanism of sustainable, predictable and flexible funding for peace and security in Africa, and in particular for peace support operations. The Kaberuka Panel is dealing with familiar challenges.
The AU has faced considerable funding challenges since its establishment in 2000. Historically, most of its funding has come from the larger economic powerhouses: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria and South Africa. Yet, all these states have experienced challenges that have affected their finances; and, as a result, their financial contributions to the AU budget have steadily declined.
As a consequence, the AU had to increasingly depend on sources of funding from outside the continent, including the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and the World Bank. At the same time, the AU and other regional organisations, have also been increasingly recognised by these external donors as key to ensuring peace and security in Africa.
The problem of funding, especially in the area of peace and security, is not one that will go away soon. While the number of conflicts has decreased over the past few years, over half of the world’s conflicts are in Africa. In the short to medium term, the AU will undoubtedly continue to spend the bulk of its limited financial resources on peace and security issues.
The AU Commission’s projected budget for the next few years illustrates the increasing cost of peace and security on the continent. By 2017, this will add up to over 844 million dollars. Annually, these costs constitute at least 60pc of the overall cost of running the African Union Commission.
Increasingly, external actors have footed the peace and security bill. For example, the European Union has set up the African Peace Fund (APF), under the Joint EU-Africa Strategy. Its aim is to support the peace and security activities of the African Union and other regional mechanisms, such as the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS).
Since the establishment of the APF in 2007, the EU has spent at least 1.3 billion euros in support of peace and security in Africa. China has also made a 100-million-dollar contribution to the AU’s peace and security operations. This is in addition to the one-billion-dollar contribution it made to the UN for peace operations in Africa in September 2015.
The United States contributes to peace and security in Africa through different initiatives. It estimates that it will spend 110 million dollars annually for three to five years through its African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP). This is in addition to the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) programme, which has cost the US approximately 241 million dollars since 2009. The United States also supports UN and AU peace operations in Africa bilaterally – including, for example, the regional force combatting the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries.
This dependence on external support for peace and security in Africa has troubled both the AU and its external funders. There is increasing pressure on partners, such as the European Union, to limit funding and direct resources to pressing challenges at home. African policymakers are equally concerned about the ownership and control of peace and security operations in Africa. Financing peace support operations in Africa is also a key element in the dialogue between the United Nations and the AU. In a follow up to the UN High Level Implementation Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) report, which recommended finding sustainable funding for peace support operations in Africa, a joint UN-AU review on financing mechanisms is currently underway.
The Kaberuka report builds on earlier proposals outlined by the Obasanjo Panel on Alternative Sources of Financing. This included a proposal on extra taxes on tourism and flight tickets in Africa. The Kaberuka Panel recommended imposing a 0.2pc level of tax on imports into Africa, which it envisaged would raise 1.2 billion dollars annually for the AU. Special Envoy Kaberuka’s proposal was generally welcomed by AU member states during the AU Summit in July 2016.
However, there is a need for caution. The politics of implementing this proposal will be a completely different matter, and the modalities to implement the levy remain vague. One way for the AU to get a real buy-in from its member states in this new funding proposal is to ensure that benefits return to all member states. For example, the AU could consider supporting reforms among member states that will make ports competitive and more profitable, in order to attract international imports. It could also make itself visible in the economic development of AU member states.
This sort of exchange between the African Union and its member states will reduce the tendency of the latter to see their commitment to the African Union budget as a burden. Instead, by providing expert services in those very areas where it seeks to raise funding for its activities, the AU would not simply be seen as a taker, but also as a giver.
If the African Union aims to have its member states pay for its peace and security operations, it should start by being clear about what it gives in return. In particular, this should focus on those areas where it seeks to raise levies. Besides a concrete return, solidarity among AU member states should also be key. Not all AU member states are directly impacted by conflicts, but funds should be based on the principle of Pan-African cohesion, rather than direct impact.
Only by building on states’ solidarity, and on advantageous deals for contributing members, can the African Union start to develop solid and long-lasting funding mechanisms.