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The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is an economic development program of the African Union. NEPAD was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia. NEPAD aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.
NEPAD is a merger of two plans for the economic regeneration of Africa: the Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme (MAP), led by Former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in conjunction with Former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria; and the OMEGA Plan for Africa developed by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal. At a summit in Sirte, Libya, March 2001, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) agreed that the MAP and OMEGA Plans should be merged.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) developed a "Compact for Africa’s Recovery" based on both these plans and on resolutions on Africa adopted by the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, and submitted a merged document to the Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Development and Planning in Algiers, May 2001.
In July 2001, the OAU Assembly of Heads of State and Government meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, adopted this document under the name of the New African Initiative (NAI). The leaders of G8 countries endorsed the plan on July 20, 2001; and other international development partners, including the European Union, China, and Japan also made public statements indicating their support for the program. The Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) for the project finalized the policy framework and named it the New Partnership for Africa's Development on 23 October 2001. NEPAD is now a program of the African Union (AU) that has replaced the OAU in 2002, though it has its own secretariat based in South Africa to coordinate and implement its programmes.
NEPAD's four primary objectives are: to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate Africa in the world economy, and accelerate the empowerment of women. It is based on underlying principles of a commitment to good governance, democracy, human rights and conflict resolution; and the recognition that maintenance of these standards is fundamental to the creation of an environment conducive to investment and long-term economic growth. NEPAD seeks to attract increased investment, capital flows and funding, providing an African-owned framework for development as the foundation for partnership at regional and international levels.
In July 2002, the Durban AU summit supplemented NEPAD with a Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance. According to the Declaration, states participating in NEPAD ‘believe in just, honest, transparent, accountable and participatory government and probity in public life’. Accordingly, they ‘undertake to work with renewed determination to enforce’, among other things, the rule of law; the equality of all citizens before the law; individual and collective freedoms; the right to participate in free, credible and democratic political processes; and adherence to the separation of powers, including protection for the independence of the judiciary and the effectiveness of parliaments.
The Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance also committed participating states to establish an African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to promote adherence to and fulfilment of its commitments. The Durban summit adopted a document setting out the stages of peer review and the principles by which the APRM should operate; further core documents were adopted at a meeting in Abuja in March 2003, including a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by governments wishing to undertake the peer review.
Ever since it was set up there has been some tension over the place of NEPAD within the African Union, given its origins outside the AU, and the continuing dominant role of South Africa—symbolised by the location of the secretariat in South Africa.
Successive AU summits and meetings of the HSGIC have proposed the greater integration of NEPAD into the AU's structures and processes. In March 2007 there was a "brainstorming session" on NEPAD held in Algeria at which the future of NEPAD and its relationship with the AU was discussed by an ad hoc committee of heads of state. The committee again recommended the fuller integration of NEPAD with the AU. In April 2008, a review summit of five heads of state—Presidents Mbeki of South Africa, Wade of Senegal, Bouteflika of Algeria, Mubarak of Egypt and Yar'Adua of Nigeria—met in Senegal with a mandate to consider the progress in implementing NEPAD and report to the next AU summit to be held in Egypt in July 2008.
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The HSGIC to which the NEPAD secretariat reports comprises three states for each region of the African Union, with former President Obasanjo (Nigeria) as elected chair, and Presidents Bouteflika (Algeria) and Wade (Senegal) as deputy chairmen. The HSGIC meets several times a year and reports to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
There is also a Steering Committee, comprising 20 AU member states, to oversee the development of policies, programs and projects -this committee reports to the HSGIC.
The NEPAD Secretariat, now the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, is based in Midrand, South Africa. The first CEO was Wiseman Nkuhlu of South Africa (2001–2005), and the second Mozambican Firmino Mucavele (2005–2008). On April 1, 2009, Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki accepted the position as the 3rd CEO.
The NEPAD Secretariat is not responsible for the implementation of development programs itself, but works with the African Regional Economic Communities— the building blocks of the African Union. The role of the NEPAD Secretariat is one of coordination and resource mobilisation.
Many individual African states have also established national NEPAD structures responsible for liaison with the continental initiatives on economic reform and development programs.
The eight priority areas of NEPAD are: political, economic and corporate governance; agriculture; infrastructure; education; health; science and technology; market access and tourism; and environment.
During the first few years of its existence, the main task of the NEPAD Secretariat and key supporters was the popularisation of NEPAD's key principles, as well as the development of action plans for each of the sectoral priorities. NEPAD also worked to develop partnerships with international development finance institutions—including the World Bank, G8, European Commission, UNECA and others—and with the private sector.
After this initial phase, more concrete programs were developed, including:
NEPAD was initially met with a great deal of scepticism from much of civil society in Africa as playing into the 'Washington Consensus' model of economic development. In July 2002, members of some 40 African social movements, trade unions, youth and women's organizations, NGOs, religious organizations and others endorsed the African Civil Society Declaration on NEPAD rejecting NEPAD; a similar hostile view was taken by African scholars and activist intellectuals in the 2002 Accra Declaration on Africa's Development Challenges.
Part of the problem in this rejection was that the process by which NEPAD was adopted was insufficiently participatory—civil society was almost totally excluded from the discussions by which it came to be adopted.
More recently, NEPAD has also been criticised by some of its initial backers, including notably Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who accused NEPAD of wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and achieving nothing. Like many other intergovernmental bodies, NEPAD suffers from slow decision-making, and a relatively poorly resourced and often cumbersome implementing framework. The great lack of information about the day-to-day activities of the NEPAD secretariat—the website is notably uninformative—does not help its case.
However, the program has also received some acceptance from those who were initially very critical, and, in general, has seen its status become less controversial as it becomes more established and its programs become more concrete. The aim of promoting greater regional integration and trade among African states is welcomed by many, even as the fundamental macroeconomic principles NEPAD endorses remain contested.