Addis Ababa – Less than half of the African Union’s member states paid their dues last year, despite the continental body’s repeatedly-stated ambitions to become entirely self-funding.This was revealed in a speech made by Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a closed weekend retreat of heads of state and obtained this week by News24, where leaders discussed reforms of the African Union.One of these reforms will be on the body’s budget, with a new self-funding model already accepted at last year’s July summit in Kigali. The new funding model kicked in in January, and states have a year in which to change the necessary domestic laws and regulations to collect money for their contributions.“We have agreed that we have to pay for ourselves,” he said. “It is a question of independence and dignity and the ability to set our own agenda.”He said the AU’s programmes are 97% funded by external donors, “and as of December 2016, less than half of member states had paid their assessment in full”.Significant funding gap Kagame said the AU’s resolution on financing in Kigali was also the catalyst for drawing up the institutional reform plan. “That is not an accident. Once you’re the one paying, you automatically become more concerned about getting good value for money,” he said. He said it wasn’t only up to the bigger states to pay, but everyone had to contribute their fair share.According to the finance proposals, each member state should impose a 0.2% levy on imports from outside the continent in order to pay their AU dues. It will then finance 100% of the operational budget, 75% of the programme budget and 25% of the peace support operations programme. According to the document, about 30 out of the 55 member states “default either partially or completely on average annually”.This created “a significant funding gap between planned budget and actual budget”.Former AU Commission deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha said it would be clear by December only whether the AU had enough money to fund its programmes this year.