Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
Inasmuch as the Algiers summit had one of the most important questions written on its agenda : the integration of the NEPAD secretariat, currently based in Midrand, in South Africa, with the Commission of the African Union (AU), in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia.
In Algiers, the leaders of the 20 member countries of NEPAD’s implementation Committee, plus the President of the AU Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, will also discuss the “financing of NEPAD’s big projects and matters to do with partnership with the rest of the world”, as indicated by the Algerian minister in charge of Maghrebi and African affairs, Abdelkader Messahel.
On the subject of partnership, the Algiers summit will examine relations with the G8 (the group of most industrialised nations). In fact, NEPAD’s five “originators” (the Presidents of South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and Senegal) are invited to the G8’s next meeting, which is expected to take place in Germany next June.
From an official source in Algiers, we can confirm the participation of the “main Heads of State involved in NEPAD” in the March 21 Summit , including the Presidents of South Africa,Thabo Mbeki, of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and of Ghana, John Kufuor, the current AU President, as well as Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
At the AU’s last summit, which was held at the end of January in Addis Ababa, a consensus was reached between the African Heads of State for Mr. Zenawi to take over Chairmanship of NEPAD’s implementation Committee after Mr Obasanjo, whose term as President of Nigeria comes to an end next April.
On the eve of the NEPAD summit, there will also be a preparatory meeting of NEPAD’s Executive Committee, which brings together the personal representatives of the 20 Heads of the member states.
In November 2004, Algiers hosted a summit for the Committee for NEPAD’s implementation, which dealt with the strengthening of inter-African relations and the means of “reinforcing the cohesion” of NEPAD.
Before this summit, there was much “NEPAD talk” in Algiers, with the official presentation on March 6th of the national self-assessment report and outline of the 2007-2009 action programme of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
This report was presented to Mrs Marie-Angélique Savané, a member of the APRM’s Panel of eminent personalities and head of Algeria’s appraisal mission.
The document highlighted the strong and weak points concerning governance in Algeria.
At that time, Mrs Savané mentioned that currently “we need to get down to taking into account the facts of this report, and compare them to other facts which we are aware of, and which we have already picked up during the appraisal mission which we carried out in various wilayas (Algerian districts), during last November”.
She specified that this report “will be presented to the Panel of eminent persons who will give their assessments, then we will take note of the recommendations arising from it before drawing up the official report which will be sent to the Algerian government, which will have three weeks to make any comments which will be attached to the report, in order to summarize what will be sent to the Heads of State”, at the next APRM Summit, which is expected to take place in Accra next July.
A few days before the extraordinary Summit for Heads of State and Government for the implementation of NEPAD, in Algiers, the Algerian Minister in charge of Maghrebi and African Affairs, Mr Abdelkader Messahel responded to questions from NEPAD’s letter, despite a full timetable.
NEPAD’s letter : Mr Minister, what can you tell us about Algeria and NEPAD, on the eve of an extraordinary summit on the strategic programme of African development to be held in Algiers ?
Mr. Mehassel : Together with President Abdelazaz Bouteflika, Algeria was one of NEPAD’s originators, and as a result of this has made a significant contribution in terms of thoughts, ideas, forecasts and programmes. Why ? Because before NEPAD, Africa was in a marginalized position in, with globalization taking place without Africa, which was battling with 13 major conflicts and was considerably behind in matters of development, where disease was claiming almost as many victims as conflicts, a continent where the worlds greatest decisions were taking place without it. From the start, NEPAD’s originators, among them President Bouteflika, got involved from the perspective of an African renewal in which development would be the main choice, and this cannot take place without peace and security. There again, President Bouteflika was of immense help, both with the settlement of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and also his involvement as the current president of the OAU in the settlement of the conflict in central Africa. Algeria also made a financial and material contribution to the building of peace, the last to date being the assistance provided to the AU in terms of African peace-keeping forces.
Algeria was also one of the first countries to join the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), because there too we cannot have harmonious development without good governance. The President of the Republic is committed to this exercise. Mrs Marie-Angélique Savané has made several trips to Algeria and we have almost finished our self-evaluation, and we hope that the Panel’s report will be presented at the next AU summit, to be held in Accra in July.
Is there room for bilateral relations within NEPAD ?
Mr. Messahel : Naturally, the bilateral policies which we maintain with African countries have a place within NEPAD, thanks to which Algeria has increased its bilateral cooperation with other African countries. In the spirit of NEPAD, we have arrived at a new type of cooperation with countries like South Africa and Nigeria, in terms of what we have called “the big bi-nationals”. With Nigeria, for example, we have big growing projects : gas pipelines, fibre optics, trans-Sahara routes,…..These projects, which are using African potential for Africans, also had a fallout effect on other African countries. And so NEPAD has become an inspriation for bilateral relations with other African countries.
And regarding development partners, what has Algeria done ?
Mr. Messahel : As from the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001, President Bouteflika has pleaded for a strong partnership, from the point of view of mutual interest . Algeria has always pleaded for a revision of development aid, in accordance with NEPAD’s aims. At the summits which Africa has held with its development partners – China, Japan, South America, Europe, France – Algeria pleaded for a massive transfer of technology (towards African countries, NDLR), for African goods to have access to foreign markets, for fairer trade and to ensure that Africa becomes a target for international investment, so that both investors and African countries can benefit.
In your opinion, Mr Minister, what are NEPAD’s principal achievements ?
Mr. Messahel : With NEPAD, the most important results have been that Africa has experienced renewed growth, from the economic point of view. We now have an average growth rate of 5% on the continent, which is a great improvement on the negative growth rate of the 1990’s. The second achievement is that good governance has become a reality in African countries. There has been serious effort made towards tackling the big challenges, which are the eradication of poverty and disease, the promotion of education, technology, peace and security.
We have also moved towards an integrated approach to development, in other words, we are no longer at the stage where every country minds its own policies, without paying attention to others. Now, everyone in Africa has become aware of the importance of economic integration and today it is important to consolidate this approach.
When projects are handled at government level, it is no longer simply the national approach which matters, but also the regional approach.
And the priorities ?
Mr. Messahel : This is education – we are in the decade of education, the industrialisation of the continent, and partnership. We do not want Africa to be seen any more as a market and a source of raw materials. Our partners must make direct investments and technology transfers into Africa. There are also negotiations within the WTO for fairer trade and the consolidation of peace and infrastructure. These are the big undertakings which await Africa for the coming five to six years.
Is there dialogue between the initiating countries of NEPAD ?
Mr. Messahel : Yes there is permanent and regular dialogue on all levels, not only between Heads of State. It is tied up with the convergence of the views of these countries, and our interest in furthering the continent’s advancement. There is also always dialogue at the big meetings, whether it is with the G8, or the other partners, China, Japan. NEPAD News, March 23, 2007