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WHY NEPAD?

NEPAD Dialogue - Focus on Africa
Issue 100 - 22 July 2005

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Why NEPAD?
The much anticipated G8 Summit in Gleneagles has come and gone, and the outcomes from the Summit give us an opportunity to reflect and look into the future with some degree of optimism. Commentators had dubbed this year’s Summit as a “determinant” of African progress. We therefore need to remind and ask ourselves “Why NEPAD?" And in answering that question reaffirm our collective commitment to move the continent forward.

Some 340 million people, or half the population In Africa, live on less than US $1 per day. The mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 140 per 1000, and life expectancy at birth is only 54 years. Only 58 per cent of the population have access to safe water. The rate of illiteracy for people over 15 is 41 per cent. There are only 18 mainline telephones per 1000 people in Africa, compared with 146 for the world as a whole and 567 for high-income countries.

The poverty and backwardness of Africa stand in stark contrast to the prosperity of the developed world. The continued marginalisation of Africa from the globalisation process and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability.

NEPAD -- the New Partnership for Africa’s Development -- calls for the reversal of this abnormal situation.

NEPAD, a programme of the African Union, is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and shared conviction, that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries on a path of sustainable growth and development and, at the same time, to participate actively in the world economy and body politic.

The programme is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world.

We (NEPAD) are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of underdevelopment that afflicts Africa. The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty and underdevelopment exists in abundance are within our reach.

What is required to mobilise these resources and to use them properly is bold and imaginative leadership that is genuinely committed to a sustained human development effort and the eradication of poverty as well as a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.

There are already signs of progress and hope; democratic regimes that are committed to the protection of human rights; people-centred development and market-oriented economies are on the increase.

Process of empowerment and self-reliance
NEPAD is about consolidating and accelerating these gains. It is a call for a new relationship of partnership between Africa and the international community, especially the highly industrialised countries, to overcome the development chasm that has widened over centuries of unequal relations.

The challenge for the peoples and governments of Africa is to understand that development is a process of empowerment and self-reliance. Accordingly, Africans must not be wards of benevolent guardians; rather they must be the architects of their own sustained upliftment.

The world has entered the new millennium in the midst of an economic revolution that could provide both the context and the means for Africa’s rejuvenation.

While globalisation has increased the cost of Africa’s ability to compete, the advantages of an effectively managed integration present the best prospects for future economic prosperity and poverty reduction.

On the other hand, greater integration has also led to the further marginalisation of those countries that are unable to compete effectively.

In the absence of fair and just global rules, globalisation has increased the ability of the strong to advance their interests to the detriment of the weak, especially in the areas of trade, finance and technology. It has limited the space for developing countries to control their own development, as the system makes no provision for compensating the weak.

The case for the role of national authorities and private institutions in guiding the globalisation agenda along a sustainable path and, therefore, one in which its benefits are more equally spread, remains strong.

Experience shows that, despite the unparalleled opportunities that globalisation has offered to some previously poor countries, there is nothing inherent in the process that automatically reduces poverty and inequality.

What is needed is a commitment on the part of governments, the private sector and other institutions of civil society, to genuine integration of all nations into the global economy and body politic.

A new set of circumstances
NEPAD recognises that there have been attempts in the past to set out continent-wide development programmes. For a variety of reasons, both internal and external, including questionable leadership and ownership by Africans themselves, these have been less than successful. However, there is today a new set of circumstances, which lend themselves to integrated practical implementation.

Across the continent, democracy is spreading, backed by the African Union, which has shown a new resolve to deal with conflicts and censure deviation from the norm. These efforts are reinforced by voices in civil society, including associations of women, youth and the independent media.

In addition, African governments are much more resolute about regional and continental goals of economic cooperation and integration. This serves both to consolidate the gains of the economic turnaround and to reinforce the advantages of mutual interdependence.

The changed conditions in Africa have already been recognised by governments across the world. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, adopted in September 2000, confirms the global community’s readiness to support Africa’s efforts to address the continent’s underdevelopment and marginalisation.

The NEPAD programme centres on African ownership and management. Through this programme, African leaders are setting an agenda for the renewal of the continent, based on national and regional priorities and development plans that must be prepared through participatory processes involving the people.

The NEPAD programme is a framework of interaction with the rest of the world, including the industrialised countries and multilateral organisations. It is based on the agenda set by African peoples through their own initiatives and of their own volition, to shape their own destiny.

African leaders’ joint responsibility
To achieve these objectives, African leaders took joint responsibility for the following:

* Strengthening mechanisms 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;

* Promoting and protecting democracy and human rights in their respective countries and regions, by developing clear standards of accountability, transparency and participatory governance at the national and sub-national levels;

* Restoring and maintaining macroeconomic stability, especially by developing appropriate standards and targets for fiscal and monetary policies, and introducing appropriate institutional frameworks to achieve these standards;

* Instituting transparent legal and regulatory frameworks for financial markets and the auditing of private companies and the public sector;

* Revitalising and extending the provision of education, technical training and health services, with high priority given to addressing the problem of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases;

* Promoting the role of women in social and economic development by reinforcing their capacity in the domains of education and training; by developing revenue-generating activities through facilitating access to credit; and by assuring their participation in the political and economic life of African countries;

* Building the capacity of the states in Africa to set and enforce the legal framework, and to maintain law and order;

* Promoting the development of infrastructure, agriculture and its diversification into agro-industries and manufacturing to serve both domestic and export markets.

Bridging the gaps in priority areas
NEPAD’s objective is to give impetus to Africa’s development by bridging existing gaps in priority sectors in order to enable the continent to catch up with developed parts of the world.

This long-term vision will require massive, heavy investment. The challenge ahead for Africa is to be able to raise the required funding under the best conditions possible and NEPAD has called on Africa’s development partners to assist in this endeavour.

The global technological revolution needs an expanding base of resources, a widening sphere of markets, new frontiers of scientific endeavour, the collective capacity of human wisdom, and a well-managed ecological system. Much of Africa’s mineral and other material resources are critical inputs into production processes in developed countries.

In addition to its indispensable resource base, Africa offers a vast and growing market for producers worldwide. A developing Africa, with increased numbers of employed and skilled workers and a burgeoning middle class, would constitute an expanding market for the worlds manufactured products, intermediate goods and services.

At the same time, Africa provides a great opportunity for investment and NEPAD creates the opportunities for joint international efforts in the development of infrastructure, ICT and agriculture.

Africa also provides prospects for creative partnerships between the public and private sectors in beneficiation, agro-industries, tourism and human resource development.

It therefore remains critical that we become aware that NEPAD will only be successful if it is owned by the African peoples united in their diversity.

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