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Africa Union says AMISOM faces financial constraints
Wednesday, August 08, 2012

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Africa Union troops which have launched a major onslaught on al Qaida allied group, Al- Shabaab in Somalia are facing a serious financial crisis that may jeopardize its operations to wipe out the militia in the Horn of Africa nation.

AU Deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha said the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)'s venture into Horn of Africa is expensive affair and appealed for more international aid to enable the troops complete their mandate of pacifying the country.

Mwencha who was speaking during African Leadership Conference in Kenya's port city of Mombasa late on Monday said the pan African body spends about 45 million U.S. dollars per month.

"In the last three years we have spent 300 million dollars to send troops, armored trucks and tanks, backed by helicopters, into Somalia to mutilate terrorism groups operating in the war tone country of Somalia," he said.

According to AMISOM, Kenya has contributed troops comprising of air force, Navy and Army troops and have concentrated to the pacification efforts in central and lower Juba part of Somalia also known as sector two.

The other troop contributing nations include Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone for the over 17,000 strong force.

Mwencha said the current level of funding was shot enough although the pan African body continues to get support from UN Security Council and European Union and other friendly countries.

Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) formally joined the enlarged AMISOM on June at a ceremony held at the Kenyan Department of Defense headquarters in the capital Nairobi.

During the ceremony, a total of 4,664 Kenyan personnel were integrated into AMISOM, bringing the AU peacekeeping force's strength to slightly over 17,000 troops out of a total authorized strength of 17,731.

The re-hatting comes in the wake of the latest terrorist attack blamed on Somalia based Al-Shabaab that killed 17 people and injured more than 65 others on Sunday in northern Kenya.

Kenya's integration into the continental force was officially solemnized through the change from Kenyan flag to the AU flag.

Mwencha noted that the major goal of the AU troops was to flash out al Qaida-affiliated extremists based in Somalia which pose a significant threat not just to Somalia but to other countries in the region, including Kenya.

"We have made significant progress since our incursion in Somalia by cutting Al-Shabaab relief supplies and recaptured key stronghold towns and will not surrender," Mwencha vowed.

Kismayo, the strategic hub for Al-Shabaab operations, has been a target for the Kenyan troops, who make up the AU contingent in the south of the country, since they entered Somalia last October.

The third annual Africa governance conference is being held in Kenyan city of Mombasa where African leaders are discussing leadership and governance in Africa.

Meanwhile, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo pointed out poor governance as among the impediment facing development in African continent for many decades now.

Obasanjo told delegates in the conference that many African states cannot achieve their UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015 due to poor governance.

"The recently launched 2012 annual report on African progress panel indicates that almost a half of Africans still live on less than 1.25 dollars per day," Obasanjo told the participants.

He said that plans tot reduce child mortality and material death as well as increase access to education were off track.

The ex-Nigerian leader said that the continent has continued to witness a rapid population growth that required proper planning to sustain the increasing numbers.

"The demographic bulge as it exists is a time bomb if adequate and right investments are not made in education, skill acquisition and job creation. Young people's vibrant and energetic abilities must be capacitated and channeled into positive activities," Obasanjo told participants at the forum.

In a speech read on his behalf by Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, President Mwai Kibaki told African leaders to invest in youths to become globally competitive in terms of human capital.

He said by February, the country's Youth Enterprise Development Fund had disbursed 70 million dollars to small and medium enterprises run by the youth in Kenya. The fund had also trained over 200,000 youths in entrepreneurship.

In a statement read on his behalf by Public Service Minister Dalmas Otieno, Kibaki said African youths must be equipped with the necessary skills to move the continent to the next level.

Kibaki called on African governments to invest in their youth to enable them create skilled labor force that will give the continent competitive advantage.

He said it was high time Africa stopped signing the stereotypes and start implementing actual pragmatic steps that will make a difference in the development of the continent in whichever way we ascribe to.

"Despite remarkable trends in economic growth, one of the main challenges that African countries now face is that of inadequate job creation for our school leavers," Kibaki said.

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