Addis Ababa - The African Union faces major funding constraints and should turn to "non-traditional" backers and not rely on states' membership fees alone, AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Tuesday.
"The major constraint is resources," she told AFP, adding that in addition to the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commissions for Africa, the private sector has an important role to play.
"We need to mobilise business people on the continent and beyond and financial institutions to invest in the continent, to do business in the continent," she said.
The AU, traditionally funded by annual fees from member states, lost one of its major bankrollers last year with the death of Libya's Moamer Kadhafi. The annual budget for 2013 is $278m.
Although declining to speak about specific flashpoints on the continent, Dlamini-Zuma said development was a central AU priority.
"For development to happen there needs to be peace, but if you delay development, you threaten peace and stability," she said.
"We need to work very closely with the UN on all matters, but particularly on matters of peace because the United Nations Security Council has the primary responsibility for peace," she added.
Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to head the continental bloc's executive commission, beat incumbent Jean Ping of Gabon in July to the top post.
An ex-wife of South African President Jacob Zuma and powerful politician in her own right as a former home affairs minister, Dlamini-Zuma will serve four years in the job, and is eligible to run for re-election in 2016.