Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
* From an address by Prof. Wiseman Nkuhlu, a former Chief Executive of NEPAD, delivered at the University of Pretoria, South Africa
The adoption of the New Partnership of Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by the African Heads of State and Government in 2001 as a policy framework for the socio-economic renewal of the continent heralded a new beginning that would inspire and energise development action throughout the continent.
A new beginning was considered necessary for a number of reasons, including the massive debt overhang, escalating levels of poverty, rampant infectious diseases – malaria, HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis, inability to participate meaningfully in the global economy and a demeaning over-dependence on hand-outs by the developed countries.
The NEPAD founding document provides a framework for a continent-wide holistic socio-economic renewal and its overarching objectives are self-reliance, sub-regional and continental economic integration, economic growth and sustainable development.
The focus in the early years, 2001 – 2004 was on advocacy and development of sectoral indicative plans.
From 2004/2005, NEPAD embarked on the most difficult phase which is institution building and programme implementation. This phase requires sustained action, primarily by national governments, Regional Economic Communities and the African Union and its organs.
The early years 2001 – 2004 The primary focus of this phase was the popularisation of NEPAD’s key principles : African ownership and responsibility, promotion and advancement of democracy, good governance and accountable political leadership, self-reliance, self-sustaining development, partnerships with shared responsibilities and accountability and promotion of regional and continental economic integration.
The NEPAD founders criss-crossed the continent addressing their peers, government officials, business leaders, trade unions and civil society organisations.
Furthermore they engaged the international community including the leaders of the G8 countries, the United Nations and its agencies as well as the countries of the South.
The second focus was the elaboration of goals and indicative action plans for each of the sectoral priorities, peace, security, democracy and political governance, economic and corporate governance, regional and continental infrastructure (ICT, energy, transport, water and sanitation), human resource development, including education and health, agriculture, science and technology and the environment.
In preparing these sectoral plans, the NEPAD structures engaged stakeholders, both in Africa and internationally. Workshops, seminars, conferences and summits were held in many African countries and in the capitals of the developed countries. As a consequence, NEPAD became topical and visible.
The third focus was strengthening African institutions, especially the African Union to achieve quick wins on a number of fronts, including resolution of conflicts, transformation and strengthening of the organs of the African Union, re-invigoration of Regional Economic Communities and transformation of the donor/recipient relationship with the developed countries into a true partnership in which both sides are accountable.
The fourth area that received special attention was the building of relationships with multilateral development finance institutions, especially the African Development Bank, World Bank, European Commission and the development agencies of the United Nations.
First and foremost, NEPAD challenged the imposition of a uniform approach to development with rigid priorities by the development partners and Breton Woods institutions.
Secondly, NEPAD challenged the issue of conditions attached to development support and thirdly the quantum of resource flows. Africa engaged the developed partners on all these issues. The results are highlighted in the next session.
The fifth area of focus was the mobilisation of the private sector. The NEPAD architects made it clear from the outset that the thrust of the socio-economic renewal process must be the creation of conducive conditions for indigenous entrepreneurship and increased business investments from the rest of the world.
Governments play a major role in creating the right conditions and providing the basic infrastructure ; however, it is ordinary people through their own enterprises that create wealth on an efficient sustainable basis.
Acting on these beliefs, the NEPAD architects led the mobilisation of the private sector through numerous forums, both in Africa and internationally. The NEPAD structures also prioritized the promotion of reforms and mobilization of private sector resources.
Achievements during the early years – 2001-2004 Challenging the dominant development paradigm and asserting the right of African countries to determine their own development path and priorities was the most difficult task. It required a powerful persuasive vision anchored on unassailable principles and capacity to articulate them consistently with conviction and passion.
It is pleasing to note that much as it was extremely demanding in the first 18 months, by the middle of 2003 many African scholars, leaders of NGOs and trade unions that were sceptical at the beginning had been turned into fervent supporters of NEPAD.
Regional Economic Communities had become integrated into NEPAD structures through their participation in the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) and the NEPAD Steering Committee.
At the international level, the United Nations adopted NEPAD as a framework for the programmes of its agencies working in Africa.
The G8 countries also adopted NEPAD as a framework for their development support, and responded by developing the G8 Africa Action Plan, which focuses on NEPAD priorities. The OECD countries also embraced NEPAD in a similar fashion.
Through NEPAD, Africa managed to expand the development priorities beyond the narrowly defined poverty reduction strategies.
Agriculture, infrastructure, science and technology, higher education and regional economic integration which were not previously among priorities accepted by the development partners have now taken centre stage. As a consequence, development support for these sectors is on the increase after a notable decline during the 1990s.
Other achievements include convincing development partners that infrastructure development is not the business of governments alone, and that it should be part of the development assistance agenda of the development community.
Consistent articulation of this approach by NEPAD leaders and the NEPAD Secretariat led to the establishment of the Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility at the African Development Bank (ADB) and notable increases in national and multi-country infrastructure project investments by the ADB and other multinational development finance institutions.
Building on these early successes in infrastructure, an Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) has been established at the ADB, as part of the G8 support to NEPAD, following the 2005 G8 Gleneagles Summit.
The NEPAD architects played a leading role in the resolution of conflicts that had been raging for years in Liberia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in particular.
Development and adoption of the sectoral plans by relevant African institutions was another outstanding success.
The successful development and promotion of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) received continental and international acclaim. It set a new standard for mutual accountability and is destined to play a major role in accelerated political, economic and social reforms in the continent.
Development assistance flows are very important to the majority of African countries. In recognition of this reality, NEPAD called for doubling of development assistance in 2001. After almost five years, the leaders of G8 countries finally conceded at the Gleneagles Summit in June 2005. Also, the Gleneagles Summit saw the announcement of debt cancellation for a number of African countries. NEPAD leaders had been calling for debt cancellation since the inception of NEPAD.
NEPAD beyond the establishment phase The first four years were characterised by active participation by the founding Presidents and the Secretariat in promoting the vision and mobilising support both in Africa and abroad as well as dynamic involvement of stakeholders in the development of sectoral policy frameworks and indicative plans. These processes ensured that progress, or lack of progress, was reported in the media on a continuous basis.
In terms of the overall NEPAD strategy, implementation is the responsibility of national governments, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the AU organs. Therefore, the centre of activity should have shifted from the NEPAD Secretariat to the implementers from 2004 onwards. Unfortunately this did not happen as planned because national governments and the RECs have been slow in building the institutional capacity they need in order to lead the implementation. Also, countries had not integrated the NEPAD objectives and priority indicative plans into their national development plans and strategies.
On the other hand, the NEPAD Secretariat is in limbo. Its role in the implementation phase has not been agreed with the AU Commission. There is also lack of clarity about its funding. This is what must be resolved for NEPAD to regain momentum.
With hindsight, it is now evident that no rigorous assessment of the capacity of national governments and the secretariats of the RECs was conducted before assigning them responsibility for leading the implementation of NEPAD programmes. It was simply assumed that in terms of the institution/architecture of the continent, they were the correct agencies.
However, the reality is that there is a lot of rationalisation and capacity building that must be undertaken before the RECs can fully discharge their responsibility for implementation. Indications are that there is no strong political will to lead rapid rationalisation of the RECs. Capacity building has been initiated with the support of the African Capacity Building Foundation, but progress remains slow.
In addition to capacity constraints there are concerns about political leadership at all levels. Leadership was very strong in the early years, especially by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee, but there has been a reduction in the number of meetings since 2004, as well as less championing of top priority cross-border infrastructure projects. As a result, the ownership and commitment by Heads of State has become less evident.
The key to unlock NEPAD implementation is in the hands of the African Heads of State, national governments and the RECs.
The passion and drive that ensured the successful launch in the early years is now needed to accelerate implementation and collaboration on cross-border projects. Currently there is no strong sponsorship of cross-border infrastructure projects by national governments. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are very few.
This is regrettable because regional and continental economic integration is crucial to Africa’s economic success. The majority of African countries have small populations with gross domestic products of less than US$4 billion. Therefore, individually they do not provide attractive markets nor the economies of scale to make major infrastructure investments viable.
The solution is economic integration, both at regional and continental levels. Otherwise Africa will remain less attractive to investors compared to China and India.
Overcoming these constraints is feasible ; however, a prerequisite is strong political leadership in each of the regions. Without strong champions of regional economic integration in each of the regions, South, East, Central, West and the North, the pace will remain slow.
Africa and partner institutions as drivers of NEPAD Implementation Up to this point we have presented a detailed analysis of what we consider to be the most significant challenges that must be addressed by NEPAD structures. We are not by any means implying that NEPAD implementation has come to a halt. In fact, what is happening is very heartening in that NEPAD has become self-sustaining ; African and partner institutions are continuing with implementation despite the weaknesses at the centre.
The rolling out of NEPAD programmes in agriculture, science and technology, capacity building and cross-country infrastructure is making satisfactory progress primarily because African and partner institutions are committing more resources. Business and other stakeholders are maintaining the momentum. Of course, the NEPAD Secretariat remains committed ; however, as already pointed out its effectiveness is undermined by resource constraints and lack of clarity about its future.
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) is a good example of a programme that is making progress because its launch inspired and energised African agricultural research institutions, indigenous farmers’ associations and African governments who believe in the pivotal role of agriculture in development. In addition, many development partners who were looking for a champion for agricultural development have rallied around CAADP.
Currently, the programme is receiving strong support from the Global Environment Facility ; USAID, FAO and a number of other international partners. Key support areas include the following :
NEPAD Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Ghana, supported by Netherlands Government through a Euro 40 million programme ;
Over US $ 35.2 million which has been pledged (Govt. of Nigeria, IFAD, Gates and the Rockefeller Foundations) for the support of an African Fertilizer Development Financing Mechanism ;
35 million pounds which has been mobilised through the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to support research in five countries ( Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Tanzania ) ;
The West Africa Productivity Programme (WAPP) which is receiving US $45 million for Ghana, Senegal, Mali ;
The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) which is in the process of developing a US4.2 million strategic response to HIV/AIDS in the fisheries sector through a piloted programme in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Benin, Togo and Cameroon ;
The Chinese government is financing a NEPAD-Egypt-WFC Aquaculture Technical Assistant Programme through which Egypt is expected to provide technical assistance in fisheries and aquaculture to other African states in a south-to-south cooperation arrangement ;
A Euro3 million programme through which the EU and the African Development Bank are supporting fisheries and aquaculture programmes in COMESA member states (NEPAD in liaison with WorldFish and COMESA) ;
IFAD has mobilised US$ 1.3 million from the Italian Government for a 3-year support programme to maximise the impacts of IFAD’s investment of about US$ 106 million in the cassava sub-sector in Africa ;
Through the Abuja Fertilizer Summit Resolution No. 7 (establishing national financing facilities to support importers and distributors of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs), resources are being mobilised for a credit guarantee fund to be piloted in Uganda through the Uganda National Agro-Dealers’ Association (UNADA). AGRA and Standard Chartered Bank are exploring support to the initiative ;
The World Bank , through an IDA grant, are supporting the Agriculture Expenditure Tracking System programme ;
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) through a technical assistance programme (TCP) are strengthening NEPAD Secretariat capacities in the agricultural sector ; and
The International Fertilizer Development Centre, under a project support grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, is also strengthening NEPAD Secretariat capacities in the sector.
It is important to note that these are just but examples of how the international community has embraced CAADP as the framework for agricultural development in Africa.
Exciting progress in science and technology The NEPAD Science and Technology programme is making exciting progress because partnerships with the African Union Commission and African Ministers for the sector were forged from the start.
The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) has continued to champion the implementation of Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA).
The prioritised flagship programmes for implementation are the following :
Establishing an African network of centres of excellence in water sciences and technology ;
Establishing an African Energy Research and Innovation Network ;
Establishing the African Biosciences Initiative ;
Developing the African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Initiative ;
Exploring the possibility of establishing a continental fund for science and innovation ;
Launching an African network for mathematical sciences ; and
Building consensus on modern biotechnology.
On the establishment of an African network of centres of excellence in water sciences and technology, the following regional networks of centres of excellence have been established :
West Africa based in Dakar, Senegal ;
Eastern and Central Africa, based in Nairobi, Kenya ;
Southern Africa, based in Pretoria, South Africa ; and
North Africa, based in Cairo, Egypt.
Four directors have been appointed for each of the centres and good progress is being made in terms of awarding research and capacity building fellowships to Africans to conduct research on cereals, human health, biodiversity conservation, and application of indigenous knowledge, livestock diseases, and biopharmaceuticals. The Government of Canada has made available CAD$ 30 million that has enabled the launch of this initiative.
On water sciences and technology, the Ministers resolved to establish “an African Network of Centres of Excellence in Water Sciences and Technology Development”. A business plan and budget are ready for approval by AMCOST. Support has been secured from the Government of France for the development of a business plan and identification of centers of excellence to implement specific projects. Through its Institute for Research on Development (IRD), the Government of France has allocated approximately Euro 350,000 over the past two years.
African Energy Research and Innovation Network : A comprehensive business plan of the proposed African Energy Research and Innovation Network has been developed and is ready for approval by AMCOST.
African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Initiative : The Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is supporting an initiative to develop common indicators and produce an African Innovation Outlook, through a grant of approximately US$ 3 million over two years.
An intergovernmental committee on indicators first met in August 2007 in Maputo, Mozambique and made a number of decisions on the production of science, technology and innovation indicators.
This programme is very strategic because unless Africa develops her own scientific and technological capability she will not be a meaningful participant in the knowledge intensive global economy.
Further, more new African Renaissance schools have been established at a number of African universities and there is an increasing interest in collaborative research and studies among African universities. Again, this confirms that African institutions are embracing the NEPAD agenda.
Vital importance of regional integration Regional economic integration is the very essence of NEPAD. NEPAD provides an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.
The vision and accompanying principles and values give meaning and also inspire and energise the African people, but on their own will not bring about meaningful political and economic integration unless accompanied by careful planning and implementation of inter connecting infrastructure that would facilitate trade and investment among African countries. Without investment in inter-connecting infrastructure, political and economic integration of African countries will not be sustainable.
This is the rationale for prioritising infrastructure interconnectivity. Africa needs cross-border, regional and continental infrastructure in order to overcome her major economic weakness which is economic fragmentation.
It is therefore pleasing to note that the work on cross-border infrastructure is receiving increased support from the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other development partners. As already mentioned, an African Infrastructure Consortium has been established for the purpose of co-ordinating action in this area. The Secretariat is hosted by the African Development Bank.
Another example which demonstrates that African institutions are taking responsibility for sustaining implementation of NEPAD programmes is the promotion of the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) by the Public Investment Corporation of South Africa. A number of African pension funds and financial institutions have invested US $625 million in the fund. The money will be used to finance high priority cross-border infrastructure projects.
Capacity building is a new area of focus The NEPAD Secretariat is promoting capacity building as a new area of focus. The motivation behind the initiative is that it has become very clear that capacity building is a major constraint to NEPAD implementation.
Resources have been mobilized from the African Capacity Building Foundation, the Southern Africa Trust, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) the African Development Bank, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and other development partners.
The secretariats of the RECs, and governments of countries that have completed the Peer Review process have been prioritised. This development is timely and strategic because the additional resources that have been committed through NEPAD will not flow unless the capacity constraints are addressed : even if they flow, they will not be efficiently and affectively utilised to deliver services to the citizens unless there is a fundamental institutional and attitudinal transformation at these levels.
Education and health are also high priorities in the NEPAD programme, however, since major partnerships were already established in 2001, the NEPAD leaders decided to add new dimensions.
In education, NEPAD is focusing not only in the attainment of universal primary education by 2015, but also the building of technical, scientific and managerial skills to enable Africa to industrialise and participate meaningfully in the global production supply chains.
It is pleasing to note that through NEPAD intervention and advocacy, support for higher education is on the increase. Many African universities were starved of development support over 25 years as a consequence of policies advocated by the World Bank. NEPAD achieved a breakthrough when leaders of the G8 countries agreed to increase support to higher education at Gleneagles in 2005. The financing of the information technology initiative of the SADC Universities by the UK and the Netherlands is an example of the new approach. This project is led by the Association of Vice Chancellors of the Universities of SADC countries.
NEPAD intervention in health has had a very significant impact. While welcoming increasing support for disease-specific programmes in malaria, tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS, NEPAD highlighted the fact that the agreed targets would not be achieved unless there was significant scaling up of resources and support for the strengthening of integrated health systems.
This advocacy has strengthened the African voice and accelerated the scope of health interventions. NEPAD is continuing with this advocacy role and more and more African countries are calling for the strengthening of integrated health systems.
Of course the NEPAD initiative that has received most publicity is the African Peer Review mechanism (APRM). The APRM’s primary object is improving political, economic and corporate governance as well as sharing of good practice in governance among African countries.
Reviews of five countries ; Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and Algeria have been completed and valuable lessons have come out of this experience. The APRM is now taking steps to accelerate the pace and the NEPAD Secretariat is assisting the reviewed countries to implement their programmes of action.
A good start has been made but there are challenges that require strong leadership. The integrity of the process has to be protected and there must be real benefits to reviewed countries.
The greatest threat is the increasing dependence on funding by development partners and United Nations agencies. Financial support by African countries has declined in the last two years. Strong leadership is therefore required to build the capacities of the reviewed countries in order to ensure the long-term entrenchment of the principles and values of NEPAD in implementing the APRM Programme of Action. Without this leadership, the APRM runs the risk of being reduced to a mere technical exercise, leading to an erosion of African ownership that has been consolidated in the first phase of NEPAD.
Through the implementation of the APRM Programme of Action, African countries need to forge partnerships with a view to using each other’s strength in addressing common challenges, as well as sharing experiences and expertise. This approach would also go a long way in supplementing ongoing efforts in regional integration, which should go beyond cross-border infrastructure development issues (critical as they are).
The other very exciting initiative that has been inspired by NEPAD is the establishment of the Ibrahim Index of African Governments by one of the most successful African business leaders, Mo Ibrahim. The primary objective of the initiative is to encourage and reward excellent political leadership across Africa.
Through this project, a prize of $5 million has been made available to an African leader who completes his term at office with a clean governance record. The $5 million will be available to the retired Head of State or Government to enable him/her to continue to live with dignity as well as pursue projects of his/her choice. This is a clear affirmation of NEPAD and the APRM by a leading African business leader.
The way forward : urgent action is required We believe that urgent action is required to remove the uncertainty about NEPAD leadership and institutional arrangements.
At the political level, steps must be taken to ensure effective political leadership after the end of the era of Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki. This requires the induction of some of the newly elected progressive Heads of State and Government as soon as possible. If this is not done, NEPAD will become less and less relevant and ultimately replaced by a new initiative.
The second priority is resolving institutional uncertainty. Discussions about the integration of NEPAD into the AU structures and processes have been going on for more than three years. Furthermore, the delay in holding the Heads of State and Government Brainstorming Summit is undermining effectiveness of the programme, as well as the credibility of the NEPAD leadership.
The third priority is building the capacity of the Regional Economic Communities that have been assigned responsibility for implementing NEPAD projects. Each REC must have a unit dedicated to promoting cross-border projects. Furthermore, the secretariats must have resources to convene meetings of ministers and Officials as necessary.
The fourth priority is leadership in intra Africa trade and investment in cross-border infrastructure projects by middle income countries in each REC. We believe that the formal structures and procedures of the RECs are not conducive to entrepreneurial action. Therefore, unless the middle income countries become more proactive in pushing cross-border projects by providing financial guarantees where necessary and also leadership in the mobilisation of the private sector and multilateral development finance institutions, there will be no major breakthroughs.
Conclusion The launch of the NEPAD programme in 2001 unleashed considerable development activity across the continent. For the first time African leaders were championing a very progressive renewal agenda. Response by redeveloped countries and multilateral development institutions was positive. As a consequence, a good foundation was laid in the first four years.
Uncertainty regarding the future of the programme developed during the last two years ; however, sustained action has continued mainly because African and partner institutions have taken ownership and responsibility for the programme.
Our conclusion is that that the current challenges are not insurmountable. They are of a temporary nature and will be resolved within the next 12 months. However, there is an urgent need for the NEPAD leaders to demonstrate their seriousness about NEPAD, specifically by bringing the integration of NEPAD into AU structures and processes to finality. Source : NEPAD, 25 janvier 2008