by Dr. Andrew Kanyegirire
Mr Evarist Kagaruki, writing in The Citizen editions of July 9 and 17 is determined to pronounce that ‘Nepad has failed to solve Africa’s myriad problems’. He is determined to historicise African development and to re-present post-colonial Africa as a hopeless place. After this, we are then told that the ten-year existence of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) has maintained this doomsday scenario.
In doing this, Mr Kagaruki offers a now commonplace, simplistic and narrowly-focused narrative about Africa’s development and the potential role of continental plans such as Nepad. In many instances, these narratives are counterproductive as they work to disempower and to prop-up the view that Africa has ‘failed’.
Nepad is a vision and strategic action plan for addressing the challenges that are faced by the continent. Nepad places emphasis on pushing for policy reforms and the creation of an enabling environment for Africa’s development at the national, regional and global levels.
The principles and values of Nepad are owned by every citizen of Africa (including the diaspora) across various groupings and levels – the private sector, governments, regional economic communities and non-state actors. The relevance and success of Nepad depends on the extent to which the African people and particularly civil society are involved in the process of implementing Nepad.
As such, the completion of the integration of Nepad into the African Union (AU) structures and processes in 2010 has been cited by many Africans as being a key step that has helped to strengthen Nepad and to give it a clearer mandate and focus in terms of ownership and implementation.
In relation to this, Nepad has also been strengthened through the transformation of its Secretariat into a more focused implementation agency, namely the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency.
The core mandate of the Nepad Agency – which is designated as a technical body of the AU – is to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of regional and continental priority programmes and projects and to push for partnerships, resource mobilisation and research and knowledge management.
As Nepad marks ten years it can be argued that the first decade of Nepad was focused on laying out the framework for the ownership and leadership of the African development agenda by putting focus on programme and project design. Drawing on the current work of the Nepad Agency it is already evident that the next ten years are going to be focused on the implementation and delivery of concrete development results.
To be fair, Nepad’s track record shows that it has successes and achievements to consolidate and build on. African leaders, civil society, the media, academia and development partners are starting to acknowledge that the work of Nepad is on track and making a difference.
Without Nepad, Africa would not have recorded the following successes:
•There would be no method for African countries to review each other’s governance and hold each other to account;
•No African government would be pushed to allocate 10 per cent of its national budget to agriculture as is required by the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and 27 countries would not have signed the CAADP compact;
•A pan-African policy mechanism for reforms in the fisheries sector would not be in existence;
•Close to 100 primary and secondary schools in Uganda, Lesotho, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya will not have benefitted in ten years from 20 or more PCs;
• $1.5 million would not have been allocated to train nurses and midwives to post-graduate level;
• Over 300 African students would not have received high-level education on mathematical sciences through the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, which is supported by African Universities in collaboration with the likes of Cambridge and Oxford;
•There would be no system to harmonise how medicines in Africa are registered, reducing a huge number of counterfeit medicines on the continent;
•There would be no research into herbal remedies to treat HIV/Aids through the African Bioscience Initiative;
* Hundreds of thousands of women will not have benefitted from 20 million Euros, disbursed to empower women in knowledge development, education, access to HIV/Aids prevention or ICT skills through the Nepad Spanish Fund;
• There would be no forum to discuss how regional integration, trade and infrastructure can be harmonised and improved through initiatives such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa;
• There would be no strategic and harmonised lobbying, advocacy and knowledge sharing on behalf of Africa in areas such as debt relief, climate change and increased market access for African exports;
* There would be no framework to streamline capacity development activities across the continent and;
• The Timbuktu Manuscripts would not have been preserved and there would be no attempts to digitise them as part of many Nepad-inspired cultural initiatives.
Nepad has had issues in terms of public and media perception partly because many people that are involved in implementing the Nepad agenda have at times been slow in showing the links between Nepad and its benefits to the work that we all do at various levels. However, it must also be said that some of the negative perceptions about Nepad relate to the dominant way in which Africa is seen and perceived in general – as a failure.
Dr Andrew Kanyegirire is an OIC for Communications at the Nepad Agency (www.nepad.org) in Midrand, South Africa. He can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org