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Africa's Quest For Development & NEPAD (Posted 27th January, 2003) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Africa at Inception

The political history of Africa cannot be solely blamed for her present economic woes. In a continent that is perceived to be blessed in both human and mineral resources, it is a wonder how development has eluded her. Global indicators paint a picture of disease, poverty, famine, drought, conflicts, wars, instability – politically and economically -, bad leadership, etc. Africa's contribution to global GDP is less than 2% and her contribution to world trade has decline from 4% to less than 2% and Africa attracts less than 1% of global capital flows. The question now arises: what is the way out of this quagmire? I say development: psychologically, mentally, socially, politically and economically. We need a kind of renaissance that will be internally derived and sustained. A homegrown initiative that will be sincerely pursued and tailored to the peculiarity that is Africa.

Africa - the second largest continent after Asia with an area of 11,600,000 sq mile, population of over 600 million people - has come a long way. Africa has seen many development plans - both derived and borrowed – but they all had something in common, failure! This is traceable to the unstable polity that
characterises the continent and structural and institutional discontinuity in State policies and regional pursuits. The quest for development led to the formation of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) in 1963 by the visionary leadership of Nigeria, and 31 other States. Over a decade after, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was born to cater for the economic appetite of the West African sub-region. Other sub-regional organisations also emerged in the jigsaw with the establishment of Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the South and the Communaute Economique de L'Afrique del'ouest (CEAO) in the francophone States.

Leadership Malaise

The noble objectives for the establishment of these regional and sub-regional organisations I believe are still far-fetched. Why? Leadership! Africa suffers from a drought of quality leadership and we have ourselves to blame. But with Africa producing one of the greatest statesman in the last century, Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, we should still entertain the possibility that committed leadership as displayed by Mandela can be sourced in the continent. Describing his beloved continent, Mandela says, "for centuries an ancient continent has bled from many gaping wounds. No doubt Africa's renaissance is at hand – and our challenge is to steer the continent through the tide of history". The need for pragmatic and proactive leaders is now, lets stop heaping blame on the colonialist, it is time we wake from our self-evasive slumber and face the realities that confront us in the 21st century.

Past Developmental Pursuits

In a bid to stem the downward economic trend in Africa and compete effectively in the global market, African leaders have evolved another baby called the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). What is the distinctive value of this initiative compared to its predecessors like the Revised Framework of Principles for the Implementation of the New International Economic Order in Africa (1975-77); The Monrovia Strategy (1979); Lagos Plan for Action (1980); Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP); The African Alternative Framework to the Structural Adjustment Programme for Socio-Economic Recovery and Transformation (AAF-SAP) of 1989; African Charter for Popular Participation (1990); The Conference on Security, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA); Global Coalition to Attract Financial and Economic Assistance to Africa; The Everything for All By the Year 2000 Initiative; The 20/20 Initiative; Copenhagen Social Summit Framework; The Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative; The Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers; African Economic Community/African Union; and The Lome Agreement among others?

What NEPAD is all about?

NEPAD is a product of the merged objectives of the Omega Plan for Africa by President Wade of Senegal and the Millennium Partnership for Africa's Recovery Programme (MAP) coordinated by Thambo Mbeki of South Africa. The merger was necessitated by the need to evade sub-regional duplications of developmental themes in the continent. A close look at the MAP and OMEGA plans shows little distinction, thus their fusion created the New African Initiative (NAI) at the OAU Summit of July 12, 2001 held in Lusaka, Zambia. The meeting also produced the Head of State Implementation Committee with President Obasanjo (Nigeria) as Chairman, and Presidents Abdelaziz Bouteflika (Algeria) and Wade (Senegal) as Vice Chairmen. The first meeting was held at Abuja, Nigeria on October 23, 2001; it was this inaugural meeting that produced the revised name, New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Thus, the core focus of the October 23, 2001 document forming NEPAD was that Africa's development plan must evolve from past lessons and not imposed, with a fresh resolve to form a symbiotic alliance with the core countries of the North, particularly the G8s.

According to the Nigerian Head of State, President Olusegun Obasanjo, he explained that NEPAD is not an institution or an organisation but a self-help programme that not only requires the participation of every African citizen but that is also predicated on a three-layered partnership agenda: partnership within
ourselves, partnership between ourselves, and partnership between Africa and its development partners. While speaking at a conference on NEPAD held in Dakar Senegal on 16th April, 2002, Obasanjo further argued that NEPAD "does not leave out HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis; it does not leave out eradication of poverty in its totality, nor does it leave out education…Through NEPAD, we want to take our own destiny in our hands…by ensuring that we have good governance, by ensuring that we do away with conflict through conflict management and conflict prevention, by ensuring that we have no human rights violation, by ensuring that we have transparency, by ensuring that we do away with corruption in our society". NEPAD has set out 3 key goals. These are:

  • To promote accelerated growth and sustainable development,
  • To eradicate widespread and severe poverty, and
  • To halt the marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process.

To achieve these 3 lofty goals, the NEPAD document highlights the following ways:

  1. Strengthening the mechanism for conflict prevention, management and resolution at the sub-regional and continental levels, and to ensure that these mechanisms are used to restore and maintain peace;
  2. Promoting and protecting democracy and human rights in their respective countries and regions, and by developing clear standards of accountability, transparency and participatory governance at the national and sub-national levels;
  3. Restoring and maintaining macroeconomic stability, especially by developing appropriate standards and targets for fiscal and monetary policies, and introducing appropriate institutional
    framework for achieving these standards;
  4. Instituting legal and regulatory frameworks for financial markets and auditing of private companies and the public sector; Revitalising and extend the provision of educational, technical training and health services, with high priority given to tackling HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases;
  5. Promoting the role of women in social and economic development by reinforcing their capacity in the domains of education and training; by the development of revenue-generating activities
    through facilitating access to credit; and by assuring their participation in the political and economic life of African countries;
  6. Building the capacity of States in Africa to set and enforce the legal framework, as well as maintaining law and order;
  7. Promoting the development of infrastructure, agriculture and its diversification into agro-industries and manufacturing to serve both domestic and export markets.

It is proposed that NEPAD will be given an institutional structure and resources with a secretariat located in Pretoria, South Africa. Based on the NEPAD document, the African "Strategy for Achieving Sustainable Development in the 21st Century" will have these structures:

A. Conditions for Sustainable Development:
A1. Peace, Security, Democracy and Political Governance
A2. Economic and Corporate Governance
A3. Sub-regional and Regional Approaches to Development

B. Sectoral Priorities
B1. Infrastructure
B2. Human Resource Development
B3. Agriculture
B4. Environment
B5. Culture
B6. Science and Technology Platforms.

C. Mobilizing Resources
C1. Capital Flows
C2. Market Access

To ensure success, these structures have been appointed country coordinators for various initiatives. For example, Nigeria is to handle Economic and Corporate Governance and Capital Flows, South Africa is assigned Political Governance, Peace and Security which is to say conflict prevention management and resolution, Senegal is to handle Infrastructure, Energy and Environment, Algeria is assigned Human Resource Development while Egypt is given Market Access, Export Diversification and Agriculture. These groups are also expected to work with existing institutions such as United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union (AU) and the African Development Bank (ADB) in relevant areas.

How Feasible is NEPAD?

The issue that is agitating the minds of African scholars and analyst is the feasibility of the NEPAD initiative. Quite like its predecessors NEPAD is faced with multifarious problems amongst which are:

Issues in Funding

Getting money to finance NEPAD proposed projects is a major nut that needs to be cracked. The options available are two-fold: internal finance generation or external induced assistance. The Group of Eight industrialized nations (G8) at the end of their conference held in Kananaskis, Canada early this year promised to extend 6 billion US dollars to assist the NEPAD pool of fund. But many had decried the financial assistance as not being pro-Africa considering the enormous needs of the continent since the same G8 gave Russia $20 billion for safe nuclear disarmament. Another area of concern is the conditionalities attached to the fund. The G8 has decided to spread the $6 billion in debt relief, import subsidiaries, and some other intangible aids rather than raw cash.

At a recent Two-Day National Conference on Nigerian Perspectives to the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), jointly organised by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, participants were pessimistic about the sincerity of the so-called development partners especially as it regards cancellation of debts and restriction in international trade in the form of non-tariff barriers (NTBs). Again, how does Africa maintain her independence if most of the funds needed for NEPAD is externally generated and sustained?

Studies have shown that Africa needs a sum ranging from 54 billion to 60 billion dollars sourced through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) annually to develop. Where will Africa get over $60 billion annually? To answer this question African leaders must realize the need to look more inward than carrying the begging bowl to our developed partners, considering the dismal result the debt write-off campaign have achieved.

Issues in Mobilisation

A very critical issue the NEPAD initiators have failed woefully to address is in mobilisation and enlightenment of non-governmental/State participants. The NEPAD document placed much emphasis on the African people as the key ingredient to the success of the program. However, it is shameful to note that even some scholars are not aware of the NEPAD initiative and if they are aware there is scarcity of relevant materials to work upon. You can then imagine the information made available to the average African, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the Organised Private Sector (OPS).

It should be noted that sustainable development is focused on the people. The faster African Governments realize the need to accelerate human capital development and serious publicity campaign as it relates to NEPAD the better for the continent. Other programmes before NEPAD failed because they were elitist in design and formulation and failed to carry the people along, recent developments show that NEPAD is also threading the same path.

Issues in Co-operation

A novel inclusion in the Democracy and Political Governance Initiative is the inclusion of an Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which functions through the Heads of State Forum. Article 84 of the NEPAD document states:

"The Heads of State Forum on the New Partnership for Africa's Development will serve as a mechanism through which the leadership of the New Partnership for Africa's Development will periodically monitor and assess the progress made by African countries in meeting their commitment towards achieving good governance and social reforms."

At the fifth meeting of the 17 member Implementation Committee of the Heads of State and Governments (ICHS) of NEPAD in Abuja recently five countries refused to append their signatures to the intent document of the APRM. This action cannot be divorced from the different opinions held by the duo of President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal on July 7, 2002 concerning the modalities for monitoring good governance and respect for human rights in Africa. While President Obasanjo and some other African leaders, agreed on the need for a peer review mechanism, aimed at monitoring the performance of each other to ensure good governance, the Senegalese leader argued that such mechanism cannot but lead to interference in the domestic affair of the countries being motivated. These minor disagreements could easily truncate the political will that NEPAD needs to succeed.

The way Forward

At the recent ICHS meeting, President Obasanjo noted according to the Guardian newspaper report (Wednesday, November 13, 2002:25) that NEPAD recognize peace and security as condition precedent for poverty eradication and promotion of rapid economic development. But, he said, "regrettably, however, and for now, Africa continues to be plagued by the malaise of insecurity, instability, war and conflict, despite all our efforts".

Unfortunately, the era of conflicts and wars have not departed from Africa with Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Angola, Central Africa Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and Madagascar at different stages of confrontation. Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi are not spared too. Africa cannot be seen to progress until we have resolved to settle our disputes and differences amongst ourselves because the same developed countries profit by selling arms and ammunitions to warring factions in many of these African States and later extend aids attached with constraining conditionalities.

Again the sincerity of the North is in contention in the area of funding. How do you match debt unforgiveness with pledges of support with conditions attached? How do explain uneven trade relationship in terms of market protectionism imposed by developed States in a period of liberalization propelled by globalisation? The truth is that the wide gap that exists between the rich North and poor South cannot be bridged by NEPAD unless we devise inward looking strategies.

Africa should for a change focus on internal economic integration, especially in removing barriers in human movement and transportation. Also, Africa should focus more on encouraging the vibrant African business community by providing incentives, which will make them to increase their volume of investments; this will in turn bolster the confidence of the would-be foreign investor in the continent. It is thus a good idea that the new African Union will serve as the motor for which the NEPAD initiative will be sold to the African people and indeed to the world.

There is the need for the NEPAD initiators to accept positive criticisms and also carry the African people along, because the success of NEPAD is basically hinged on the people themselves. Health care delivery, free and sound education, clean water, and good roads should be the over-riding themes of NEPAD. Africa should invest more in human capital development and stem the 'brain drain' syndrome through qualitative governance. The European Union should be a good example in this regard. When the Euro was about to be introduced in Europe, the opinion of Europeans were sought and was considered paramount even to the extent that the design and shape of the present Euros in circulation came from them.

More fundamentally, is the challenge of good governance, transparency and accountability by African leaders. Without ensuring peace and tranquility in individual African States, the virtues of NEPAD will be lost in the short to medium term. Poverty as a major impediment to Africa's development is assisted and
entrenched by conflict, political instability and bad leadership.

The NEPAD website: is a good source of further information on the subject.


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