The African Union Champion Heads of State:
Pushing the Continental Agenda at the Highest Levels
In order for Africa to occupy its rightful position as a key player in the global arena, African Union (AU) Heads of States Champions are chosen by their peers to lead the process in focal thematic areas that will drive growth and development and lead to the achievement of Africa’s Agenda.
The AU Champion Leaders:
i) Strengthen collaboration and team spirit at a continental level as it increases interaction between Heads of State and Government
ii) Promote ownership and involvement of African Union programmes and activities at the highest level;
iii) Facilitate peer learning and review
The AU Champions garner political support and advocate for AU activities at the highest level possible, promoting political buy-in as well as full ownership by Member States, thereby facilitating the implementation of key programmes of the Union.
During AU Summits, the Champions submit progress reports on their respective areas of focus to update on their achievements, and share their challenges for further consideration and recommendations by the Assembly.
Through this innovative way of enhancing the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063, tangible results have been realised because of the commitment of the Champions to their respective areas of focus. The successful launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2019 is a prime example of what can be achieved through the Heads of State Champion Initiative. The AfCFTA received the attention for Member States due to the lobbying at the highest level by H.E. Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger, and Leader of the Continental Free Trade Area Issues. The President undertook various advocacy missions to AU Member States to collect the required number of ratifications for the entry into force of the AfCFTA.
With regards to the Institutional Reforms of the African Union, championed by H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, a lot of progress has been noted. Including the rationalisation of the leadership portfolios, the increased focus on sustainable financing and improved financial management, the prioritisation of AU programmes and division of labour between the AU and RECs as well as increasing targets for women and youth representation and participation in the institutions of the AU; all of which aim to ensure the African Union is transformed to better serve the citizens of Africa and deliver Agenda 2063
The areas of focus by the Presidents Champions include: women and gender development, peace and security, economic and political integration, migration, ending child marriage in Africa, agriculture (food security and nutrition), maritime security, safety and development in Africa, institutional reform of the African Union, elimination of female genital mutilation, domestic health financing, revitalization and operationalization of the African Union Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) policy and ending corruption in Africa.
Only Heads of State and Government in office can be selected as Champions. Being a champion or leader provides a unique platform for steering the continent towards achieving a common goal. It creates visibility for Africa’s development priorities at regional and continental level and promotes the continent in the international scene..
Current African Union Champions
AU Financial Institutions
Gender and Development Issues in Africa
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana (appointed Champion for AU Financial Institutions by the Assembly in February 2020 (Assembly/AU/Dec.769(XXXIII))
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya (Coordinator of the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) for 2022–24)(previous CAHOSCC Coordinators were the Presidents of South Africa, Gabon, Egypt, Tanzania and Ethiopia)
Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa (appointed by the Assembly in February 2021 (Assembly/AU/Dec.797(XXXIV)); role extended by the Assembly in February 2022 (Assembly/AU/Dec.816(XXXV)).
Disaster Risk Management in Africa
Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique (appointed by the Assembly in February 2022 (Assembly/AU/Dec.819(XXXV))
Fight against Terrorism and Violent Extremism
Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria(previously Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the former President of Algeria*)
Implementation of Agenda 2063
Alassane Dramane Ouattara, President of Côte d’Ivoire
Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)
Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia(previously Hailemariam Desalegn, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia)
Institutional Reform of the African Union
Domestic Health Financing
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda (Institutional Reform Champion role extended in February 2022 to February 2023 (Assembly/AU/Dec.816(XXXV)).
Leader and Chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Libya
Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of Congo Republic
King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco
King Letsie III, King of Lesotho (role extended for another term 2022–24 by the Assembly in February 2022 (Assembly/AU/Dec.819(XXXV))
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda
Positive Masculinity Programme
Félix Tshisekedi, President of DR Congo (appointed by the Assembly in February 2022 (Assembly/AU/Dec.837(XXXV))
Revitalisation and Operationalisation of the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)
Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of Egypt
Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM)
Maritime Security, Safety and Development in Africa
Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, President of Togo
United Nations Security Council Reform
Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone(previously Ernest Bail Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone)
Former President Champions
African Continental Free Trade Area
Issoufou Mahamadou, the former President of Niger
African Union–United Nations Cooperation
Jacob Zuma, the former President of South Africa
Danny Faure, the former President of Seychelles
Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation
Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, the former President of Burkina Faso
Ending Child Marriage in Africa
Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the former President of Zambia