Amid ongoing efforts to make the African Union a financially independent organization as well as calls for greater continental cooperation, Rwanda has been elected as the next leader of the Union for 2018.
The decision was announced following the conclusion of the 29th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The announcement initially came in the form of a tweet by Rwanda's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Louise Mushikiwabo.
“African Union Summit now in closing; among many decisions, Rwanda elected to lead the Union in 2018. We are honored and express appreciation,” she said.
Rwanda will assume leadership on January 30, 2018, replacing Guinea. It will be the first time that Rwanda will lead the Union since it was founded in 2001, as a replacement to the Organization of African Unity.
A major theme for the session that just concluded was collaboration and unity among African countries, with the current chairperson urging the continent to have a unified voice in the world.
Rwanda was one of the countries spearheading a financing reform proposal for the African Union at the session, looking to transform the pan-African organization into a financially independent organization, reducing dependency on external partners and financial interests.
In a presentation on Monday to the Union, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stressed the need for the organization to become more independent but also anticipated that doing so could potentially cause some “discomfort” for external interests.
Kagame is also pushing for greater investment and reform in education across Africa.
Speaking at a conference on Wednesday titled “Mobilizing African Intellectuals towards Quality Tertiary Education,” he pushed African leaders to take concrete actions toward improving education investment, as well as opening up its gender inclusivity.
“Our responsibility is to create the right conditions for delivering the 21st-century education that African youth deserve. More efforts are needed to give technical education its right value so that it contributes to Africa's transformation,” the president said.
The African Union is a continent-wide organization including all 55 African countries. It was founded in 2001 to replace the Organization of African Unity and looks to foster political and economic unity among African nations.