Monday, October 31, 2005
The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) came into existence in 2001. It is purportedly a new partnership between African countries and the West in an attempt to bring Africa out of its steady decline. Will it work, or will it be another African-led disappointment? Our 2 guest bloggers this week, Roz D, and Paradon M, offer their perspectives below. Dr. D.
When we take a look at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), established in July 2001 by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and accepted by the G8 Summit of 2002 at Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada, we already see the failings of another to-be failed endeavor. An endeavor spearheaded by only five head of states at the time and supported by Western money and institutions, both private and government acting. Like much of Africa’s constitutions throughout the continent, the goals and wording are visionary in nature, with flowery language and phrases of idealism such as “good governance as a basic requirement for peace, security, and sustainable political and socio-economic development (www.nepad.org),” but are highly improbable to achieve in reality, at least for the time being. What is addressed below is not that African countries do not appreciate outside help from various countries and organizations…it is that many African leaders are blind to their actual countries needs, blinded by the Western education, blinded by an idealism that is hardly based in reality. Of course, African leaders try to legitimize their political, economic, and social reforms under the heading of OAU, NEPAD, or even the UN. What are needed instead are truly African organizations, based in realistic goals, with greater autonomy from Western influence, via money or Western policy-making dictating this or that over the other. What are needed are organizations that are not a sham.
Too often there are program initiatives that are brainstormed, produced, and implemented by legitimate organizations, in this case the NEPAD. What organizations such as NEPAD fail to recognize is that “fixes,” if you can even call them that, expect too much in too little time. We are not talking about the three to five year terms of projects that often get started. What is needed are truly long-term projects lasting at least ten years, preferably fifteen years as a median term for change. That is not to say that because now there is more time that more “goals” can be established; it goes against the whole idea. For example, on www.nepad.org website, there is a heading titled What are the immediate desired outcomes of NEPAD? with “conflict prevention and the establishment of enduring peace on the continent” and the adoption and implementing “principles of democracy and good political economic and corporate governance, and the protection of human rights.” One thing to say about those goals: ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!! Those are immediate goals? What is your long-term goal: world peace? The remarks are not meant to be cynical. It is just that when one’s “immediate desired outcomes” are those goals that are still continually fought everyday in even developed countries, one has to wonder if NEPAD is living in a fantasy world. One has to keep in mind that many African countries are lead by corruption and the cult of personality, some would say a legacy from the colonial age. Instead, NEPAD, if it is truly going to be effective, must tone down its immediate goals and focus and work locally with respective African nations in establishing the basics such as food, shelter, and education. Although this is a simple statement with many caveats, essentially once you have a country with an educated populace that has enough food and shelter, a governance structure and along with it, rule of law, will begin to emerge.
To establish a credible and legitimate governance within a country, what is needed are not necessarily Western forms of thinking and governance. Instead, what is need are respective African country versions of governance. Too often, Western nations hope to influence how a country develops and “grows up.” They do so by using money as the carrot. That is, basically saying that if you want our money to develop your country, you are going to have to develop according to our terms and conditions. Already, the NEPAD is mired in Western bureaucratic mess. Even the leaders of the respective countries in the NEPAD think like Westerners. What many African leaders and most Western leaders fail to recognize is that problems within a country are not necessarily just internal but also inter-state conflict. For example, that is a “civil war” in the Congo has already involved individuals from eight countries. Even more, the NEPAD must distance itself from organizations like the G8. Yes, those countries mean well but they do not understand how to help. It is like asking a car mechanic to fix a plumbing issue in a house: yes, the car mechanic wants to help and does so but does not quite understand the intricacies and needs of the plumbing system as a fully certified plumber would. To allow for greater autonomy, the NEPAD must take a stand. NEPAD must demand to those nations willing to offer help that, “We welcome your money but we’ll fix our own way. What works in Senegal does not necessarily work in Sierra Leone.”
Lastly, there is a lack in the perception of historical success among many African nations. There is the thinking that nations can be restored to their “former glory.” To be honest: there NEVER was a former glory for many African nations. Instead, most African nations are experiencing success, or at least attempts for it, on their own and for the first time. As such, there are no leaders, including those from NEPAD, that can truly say that what they are doing has been tried and tested and works. Whoever says that is lying. How does one person, how does one organization know the key to success? They do not. It takes a group of people, the citizens of a country to make success happens. Yes, an individual can prompt a reform…but it is the citizens that want to carry it out.
In the end, NEPAD, for all its talk is a sham. It needs to realize that its goals need to be more realistic and/or increase the number of years. It needs to realize that Western influence and policies do not work for every single country. Finally, it needs to realize that what they are attempting to do has never been done before and to take baby steps.
NEPAD: Africa’s Pursuit of Successful Destiny
By: Rosalyn D.
Now only four years old, NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) has become an integral part of Africa’s progress made towards economic growth. The start of a millennium signaled Africa to take charge of their destiny, and pursue a new ambitious goal towards economic development. The continent saw a need to design an alternative strategy to the PRSPs (Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers) in order to confront its challenges of rising poverty levels, continual underdevelopment, and marginalization of its markets within the global economy. Hence, in July of 2001, NEPAD was adopted by the African Union.
NEPAD specified major areas of particular development assistance, including urgent debt relief; significant resources for infrastructure development; sustained financial outlays so that Africa can meet the United Nations millennium development goals of halving poverty rates by 2015; and, the end of trade distortions and agricultural subsidies by rich nations so that Africa can trade its way out of poverty through better access to lucrative Western markets.
Largely influenced by Thabo Mbeki and his idea of ‘African Renaissance,’ the institutionalization of key NEPAD principles are based on the idea that African dependence on aid and foreign intervention is a major barrier to African success. The main NEPAD principles and components are: African ownership and responsibility for
the continent’s development; the promotion and advancement of democracy, human
rights, good governance and accountable leadership; self-reliant development to
reduce dependency on aid; building capacity in African institutions; promoting intra-
Africa trade and investment; accelerating regional economic integration; advancing
women; strengthening Africa’s voice in international forums; and forging
partnerships with African civil society, the private sector, other African countries and
the international community. The efficiency of the program is characterized by executing these principles.
Endorsed by the G8, the NEPAD policies and priorities have become the internationally approved framework for Africa’s development. The APRM, African Peer Review Mechanism, has been largely successful. This peer review system has helped to establish camaraderie among the fifty-three nations, creating a forum in which each country is accountable for one another.
NEPAD has helped spread democracy and improve financial conditions. For example, in Mozambique, the world has observed peaceful changes of leadership for the first time. Also, since the implementation of the program, the average economic growth rate of Africa has increased from 2.9 in 2002 to 5.1 in 2004.
Copying is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. The NEPAD ‘Fight Against Aids’ campaign is a plan that addresses the impact of HIV and AIDS in Africa through integrated health sectors and new training techniques. This African program has been so successful in achieving positive results that other countries around the world have implemented the NEPAD Health Strategy.
Also, improvements and innovations have been made within the field of education. NEPAD has helped endorsed African partnerships through distance education learning, and exchange programs among African nations. These programs are geared for students interested in pursuing teaching, and focus on training and development.
The examples mentioned are a few of the many NEPAD successes. Clearly, the success of this program has helped to uplift Africa’s civil society. NEPAD has curt-tailed development within Africa, and has built the platform for all of Africa’s socio-economic success.
NEPAD is actualizing the AU vision of an Africa integrated, prosperous and peaceful, an Africa driven by its own citizens, a dynamic force in the global arena.
Ultimately, only time will tell how successful NEPAD will be in achieving economic development of Africa. However, the monumental progress made in just the first four years is quite notable. The initiative undertaken by the NEPAD plan is the first time Africa has banned together and taken charge of their plight. Taking charge means being held accountable for the issues that have continually plagued Africa, These include resolution of conflicts, poverty reduction, fighting corruption, eliminating the burden of disease and strengthening the capacities of African states. Arguably, the most important aspect of NEPAD is its initiative to facilitate the idea of African ownership of development issues. Unlike other development programs that have come and gone, NEPAD was created by Africans for Africans, ensuring the sustainability of success in the future.
Coleman, Sarah. “ The NEPAD Formula” [Online] World Press Review. http://www.worldpress.org/Africa/578.cfm. 27 October 2005.
NEPAD – The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (October 2001), 57 pp. e-disk
“NEPAD” [online] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/nepad. 27 October 2005.
“Nepad, the AU and the EU: the challenges of a relationship” European Union: Delegation of the European Union Commission of South Africa. [Online] http://www.eusa.org.za/PDFdownload/Speeches/Lake_Nepad_AU_EU_2003.pdf. 27 October 2005.
Taylor, Ian (2004) “Why NEPAD and African Politics Don’t Mix”, Foreign Policy in Focus e-disk