By John Ekongo
The Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), a blueprint for African accelerated development since its existence seven years ago, has been under constant criticism with some critics labelling it a “pressure application policy and an elite programme for few nations”.
However, attempts are currently being made to demystify this notion by the Nepad Secretariat at a stakeholders’ conference on media engagement cur- rently under way in Malawi.
The conference is seeking ways in which African media and especially Southern African media take charge of the dissemination of information related to Nepad.
Nepad Secretariat Head of Communication, Thaninga Shope-Linney, addressed a group of regional journalists during the opening ceremony.
She stressed that African journalists should be at the core of charting developmental stories aimed to portray the story of Africa from within Africa.
She cited that just as much as Nepad is a purely African initiative by Africans, ownership of Nepad has been a critical factor in the slow implementation of Nepad programmes.
Nepad is an offshoot of two critical African draft programmes on development, namely, the Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Programme (MAP), a Thabo Mbeki inspired plan, and the Omega plan counter partnered by Senegal’s Abdoulaye Wade.
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) is an economic development programme of the African Union adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka,
Whilst it is hailed by some as a sort of Marshall Plan for Africa by Africa, it has been unable to shed criticism and the perception that it is a club of elite African nations with an open door policy to the west.
At an extraordinary summit in Sirte, Libya, March 2001, the Organization 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.
At the Lusaka meeting, the document was adopted under the name of the New African Initiative (NAI).
The leaders of G8 countries endorsed the plan on 20 July, 2001, and other international development partners, including the European Union, China and Japan, also made public statements indicating their support for the programme.
It was finalized in October of 2001 and named the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
It is now a programme of the African Union (AU), with its secretariat based in South Africa to coordinate and implement its programmes.
It is this linear approach that has the programme not growing in tandem as anticipated, revealed Thaninga Shope-Linney.
Its principles as a precondition include good governance, political stability and corporate governance. advance.
It further aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries, without necessarily acceding to interference from other parties.