The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) represents Africa’s response to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call at the Millennium Summit for a higher priority to achieve “the twin goals of freedom from want and freedom from fear.” It addresses both the issues of security and stability and the issues of socioeconomic development. It is premised on the idea “no peace without development, no development without peace.”

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) represents Africa’s response to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s call at the Millennium Summit for a higher priority to achieve “the twin goals of freedom from want and freedom from fear.” It addresses both the issues of security and stability and the issues of socioeconomic development. It is premised on the idea “no peace without development, no development without peace.”

NEPAD is a holistic, integrated, and sustainable development initiative for Africa’s economic and social revival. It represents a pledge that African leaders have a pressing duty to their people to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development and, at the same time, to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The initiative is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and their exclusion in a world that is becoming ever more globalized. It is a call for a new relationship of constructive partnership between Africans and between Africa and the rest of the international community to overcome the development chasm. The partnership is to be founded upon realization of common interest, obligations, commitments, benefit, and equality.

The initiative is premised on African states making commitments to achieving good governance, democracy, and human rights, while endeavoring to prevent and resolve situations of conflict and instability on the continent. Coupled with these efforts to create conditions conducive for investment, growth, and development are initiatives to raise the necessary resources to address the development chasm in critical sectors. These are highlighted in the program of action, such as infrastructure, education, health, agriculture, and information technology. Resources will be mobilized by increasing domestic savings, by improving the management of public revenue and expenditure, and by increasing capital inflows through further debt relief, larger targeted flows of overseas development assistance (ODA), and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Important Developments in the NEPAD Process

The NEPAD strategic framework document was accepted by the summit of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) in Lusaka, Zambia, in July 2001. In other words, NEPAD is the socioeconomic development framework of the OAU and the African Union (AU).

AU Summit, Durban. The AU Summit in Durban in July 2002 took a number of important decisions:

  • Endorsement of the NEPAD Initial Action Plan

  • Agreement by the AU Summit to encourage African countries to ratify the Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic, and Corporate Governance and to accede to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

  • Renewal of the mandate of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSIC) to lead implementation of the NEPAD program and to maintain the current management structure for at least another year

  • Call on all member states to ensure popularization of the AU Constitutive Act and NEPAD.

The AU summit also identified a number of high priority actions and interventions in the context of the NEPAD Initial Plan. The extended Steering Committee, as well as representatives of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and partner organizations held a workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, August 2–4, 2002. They produced a clear statement of actions and interventions for each NEPAD priority area for 12 months and beyond.

The point was made clearly that NEPAD is not an implementing agency. Implementation will be carried out at the level of the nation states, the RECs, and by continental institutions. Implementation will remain the responsibility of designated institutions, with NEPAD acting as a catalyst, facilitator, and negotiator. Through the NEPAD process, the heads of state will enhance the effectiveness of AU structures and regional economic communities by speeding up political decision-making and supporting capacity building.

The individual countries constitute the nuclei of all programs and implementation actions. Central actors at this level are the governments, acting through their relevant departments or designated agencies. They are responsible for mobilizing civil society and the private sector to participate and to see NEPAD as relevant in their efforts toward enhancing development and helping to alleviate poverty. These three parties—government, civil society, and the private sector—are expected to internalize the NEPAD spirit and programs in their development plans.

The RECs, as building blocks of the AU, from the subregional level for planning, coordination, and monitoring of the integration process. The RECs will have the primary responsibility for seeking the full participation of all subregional stakeholders in the planning, development, and implementation of their respective projects. The RECs comprise intergovernmental institutions, working with associations or other subregional organizations representing civil society and the private sector, especially for the operation or operating of infrastructure and related services. The RECs will operate through their secretariats, commissions, or technical units to coordinate and facilitate the development and implementation of programs.

Priority specific workshops. A number of priority-specific workshops have been held since the AU summit in Durban, involving stakeholders and recognized experts in the field to further develop positions on each issue. Workshops on the APRM, market access, and agriculture have been held recently. This process will continue in 2003.

NEPAD-HSIC meeting. The outcomes of the NEPAD-HSIC meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria, on November 3, 2002, were as follows:

  • Clarification of NEPAD as a program of the AU

  • Confirmation of NEPAD as the sole AU-approved program for socioeconomic development in Africa, with a clear directive given to the AU interim commissioner to integrate all AU socioeconomic development initiatives under the NEPAD framework

  • Confirmation of the need to formalize the legal status of the NEPAD program within the AU structures without sacrificing the unique strengths of NEPAD, namely, directed leadership of the socioeconomic development agenda of the continent by heads of state who meet on a regular basis and who have dedicated technical support structures with a high degree of operational autonomy

  • Commitment to speeding up the implementation of the APRM

  • Commitment to the comprehensive nature of the APRM

  • A call on the Steering Committee to further develop the criteria and benchmarks, particularly for political governance, and to identify the relevant institutions, including the Economic Commission on Africa and the African Development Bank, to do the technical assessment work

  • Emphasis on the need to build capacity within the AU to monitor and ensure adherence to mandatory commitments arising out of the legal instruments of the AU

  • Commitment to accelerating implementation of the NEPAD initiatives

  • Welcomed the support of the international community and the acceptance of NEPAD as the framework for engagement with Africa, as expressed in a UN Declaration on September 16 and a UN Resolution on November 4.

Crucial and Urgent Actions and Interventions Required

There is an urgent need to address conflict prevention, resolution, and management issues, including the capacity to undertake peace support operations in accordance with the charter, as well as to build early warning capacity. To this end, the following actions should be taken:

  • Strengthen institutions of political, economic, and corporate governance.

  • Make operational and implement the APRM, including finalization of the composition of the independent panel of eminent persons.

  • Plan and implement regionally coordinated programs to address food security and rural and agricultural development.

  • Address market access issues, including the strengthening of Africa’s negotiating capacity in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  • Accelerate the process of regional economic integration by selecting and implementing regional infrastructure projects in energy, information technology, water, and sanitation, by strengthening and rationalizing the RECs, and by addressing issues of intra-African trade, as well as the diversification of production and export.

  • Attract private sector investment, both from within Africa and abroad.

  • Pursue the issue of enhanced debt relief.

  • Play a monitoring advocacy role in respect of the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals, especially with regard to health (HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis) and education.

  • Enable African countries, as well as subregional and regional institutions, to access support under the Group of Eight’s Africa Action Plan and other support initiatives.

  • Implement NEPAD’s outreach and communications strategy to ensure broad understanding, participation, and ownership in the initiative. It is essential that African private sector and civil society structures are mobilized in support of NEPAD, are provided with opportunities to engage in a meaningful manner, and are given a sense of ownership of the initiative. Much still needs to be done in this regard to popularize NEPAD on the continent.

  • Ensure that gender issues and issues of capacity building are carried forward within the context of all NEPAD projects and programs.

International Support for NEPAD

NEPAD has not come into existence in a vacuum. In providing the focal point and the overall strategic framework for engagement, NEPAD does not seek to replace or compete with existing initiatives and programs, but rather to consciously establish linkage and synergies with and among them. In this way, all activities focused on Africa can be pursued in an integrated and coordinated fashion within the framework of priorities and needs identified by Africans for themselves.

Engagements have been ongoing since the OAU Lusaka Summit in 2001 to achieve the linkages and synchronicity described above. In the post-Lusaka period, an extensive program to lobby support for the initiative was undertaken. This began with the UN Economic and Social Council ministerial meeting on July 16, 2001, in Geneva, the summit of the Group of Eight countries in Genoa, Italy, on July 20, 2001, and the meeting between African leaders and leaders of the European Union and European Community in Brussels in October 2001. This theme also served as a crosscutting agenda item during the World Conference Against Racism in September 2001 in Durban. Significant interactions have been undertaken with the Group of Eight, the European Union, various agencies of the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, non-Group of Eight development partners such as the Nordic states, the process of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, and the Sino-Africa process. This culminated recently with the UN system and the international community expressing full support and accepting NEPAD as the framework for support to Africa. In this regard, a UN declaration was adopted on September 16 and a resolution on November 4, 2002.

An effort has also been made to continuously factor NEPAD imperatives into the outcomes of international conferences—such as the Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD), and the WTO—to ensure the integration of NEPAD into the multilateral system. In a wider context, countries of the South subscribe to the priorities outlined in NEPAD and have generally welcomed it with words of solidarity and moral support, as well as an appreciation for South Africa’s positive role in NEPAD. Therefore, South–South cooperation is presently being pursued with more urgency.

Another major development was that of the summit of the Group of Eight countries on June 28, 2002, in Kananaskis, Canada. At the summit, the Group of Eight presented its Africa Action Plan in support of NEPAD. The African leaders reacted positively to the plan as it provides a clear commitment to the new partnership and provides a comprehensive framework for long-term engagement in support of Africa by each of the countries of the Group of Eight. Although the plan does not provide the scale of resources required, it is comprehensive in addressing the NEPAD priorities and provides for a continued system of structured engagement and the further development of detail of engagement in the project areas proposed. It was encouraging also to see a specific commitment relating to the allocation of the “new money” announced in Monterrey specifically to Africa, as well as a commitment to review the debt issue on a case by case basis regarding states not covered under the enhanced HIPC initiative.

Businesses have also enthusiastically grasped the offer of partnership. There have been a number of engagements by NEPAD with business on the continent and internationally. Meetings, starting in April 2002, have been held in Dakar, Abuja, Johannesburg, Berlin, and Durban (at the AU summit), as well as during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. In the context of international interaction, NEPAD was discussed at the World Economic Forum in New York in January 2002 and was the theme for the Africa Economic Summit in Durban in June. At the end of the Durban summit, over 130 major corporations signed a declaration supporting NEPAD and its implementation. A number of states were also identified to provide test cases of national partnership between government and business.

A NEPAD Business Group has been formed. It consists of continental and international businesses, providing them with a substantial point of entry and engagement with NEPAD. This is led by the African Business Roundtable. It includes such organizations as the International Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa, and the Commonwealth Business Council, among others. Business partnerships are already beginning to deliver tangible results—for example, the continental fiber optic cable project launched in Dakar and at the World Economic Forum meeting in Durban, and the Africa Energy Fund that is currently being established to provide a continental power grid.


Many fine initiatives for the development of Africa have been developed in the past, such as the Lagos Plan of Action. These failed for three major reasons that we must remember and learn from—timing (under a Cold War paradigm), lack of capacity for implementation, and a lack of genuine political will.

We are now at a critical juncture in history. Both on the continent and abroad, a leadership core has developed that is genuinely committed to the regeneration of the continent. Africa’s advances in recent years and the convergence of agreement on international development goals and a common agenda for Africa illustrate this. Also, NEPAD provides three key new elements: first, it is African developed, managed and owned; second, it brings the concept of a new partnership (with mutual commitment, obligations, interests, contributions and benefits); and third, Africa is undertaking certain commitments and obligations in her own interests, which are not externally imposed conditionalities.

In conclusion, the conditions are set for the NEPAD objectives to be achieved. This unique opportunity must be firmly grasped, the present goodwill and momentum must be maintained, and implementation of NEPAD must proceed without delay. For the sake of future generations of Africans, we cannot afford to fail.