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H.E ERASTUS JARNALESE
DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION
Date and Place of Birth: 15 November 1947, Kisii, Kenya
Qualifications: M.A Economics from York University in Canada; B.A Honors in Economics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya
The second and last term of his mandate as the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission has been placed under the theme: “It’s Africa’s time.” In this context, he views his role as strengthening the institutional systems and building the networks within and outside the continent that will support the continental integration agenda.
Mr. Mwencha was first elected as Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission by the Heads of State and Government of the 54 Member States of the African Union in January 2008. His performance was such that he was re-elected to the same position in July 2012 with an overwhelming mandate of 98%. Prior to his election to the current position, he served as Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for ten years, where he has an impressive track record.
During his first tenure as Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, Mr. Mwencha has placed particular emphasis on supporting continental development agenda and programs as well as strengthening internal institutional systems. His strategic focus has been to upgrade those internal mechanisms that allow the organization to perform its role on the continent and in the world optimally. In this regard, he has paid special attention to reinforcing the result-based approach and adopting best practices in the areas of financial management, internal audit, strategic planning, resource mobilization, human resource management, administrative services, change management and internal communication.
With the objective of promoting sustainable continental development, he has been one of the key architects for boosting intra-African trade by negotiating a roadmap for the creation of a continental free trade area by 2017. In parallel, he has spearheaded expansion and deepening of strategic partnerships of the AU to enhance development effectiveness.
During the 25 years he worked at COMESA, Mr. Mwencha contributed to the transformation of the regional body into a viable economic integration entity, with the largest free trade area (FTA) in Africa comprising 13 full members, and six members trading on duty free tariffs. His achievements are numerous and he is particularly remembered, amongst others, as having contributed to the expansion of intra-COMESA trade, developed programs for private sector cooperation and trade with the rest of world, developed regional hard and soft infrastructure programs in transport, communication and energy. He also developed the continental negotiating position for the Doha Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization, Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), African Growth And Opportunity Act (AGOA) and actively supported the programs to integrate women in development.
On the institutional front, he was the driving force behind the establishment of specialized institutions of COMESA, such as the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and actively participated in the establishment of the Court of Justice, the Clearing House, the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank), the PTA Reinsurance Company (ZEPRE), the Regional Investment Agency (RIA), and the Leather and Leather Products Institute (LLPI).
Trained as an economist, Mr. Mwencha started his career as a civil servant for the Government of Kenya, which he joined in 1974. He served as Head of the Department of Industry and was Director of a number of public enterprises between 1979 and 1983 when he left to join the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African States (PTA). In 1979, Mr. Mwencha was appointed Secretary to the Industrial Science Advisory Council and was also a Member of the Research Council of the National Council for Science and Technology.
Mr. Mwencha is a believer in teamwork and his vision is to contribute to Africa’s peace, prosperity and security by fostering regional co-operation and integration while empowering others to cultivate the capacity required to achieve economic, social and cultural development.
In 2008, Mr. Mwencha was decorated by
the President of the Republic of Kenya with the “Elder of the Order of the
Golden Heart” (EGH), the highest State commendation, in recognition of his
contribution to national and regional development. He had previously been
awarded the “Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear” (MBS) of Kenya and has
also been recognized with the highest honours by the Republics of Djibouti and
Marital status: Mr. and Mrs. Mwencha have three adult sons.