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New Partnership for Africa's Development

New Partnership for Africa's Development

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The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is an economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 program of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

. NEPAD was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka
Lusaka is the capital and largest city of Zambia. It is located in the southern part of the central plateau, at an elevation of about 1,300 metres . It has a population of about 1.7 million . It is a commercial centre as well as the centre of government, and the four main highways of Zambia head...

, Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

. NEPAD aims to provide an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.

Origins and function

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
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki is a South African politician who served two terms as the second post-apartheid President of South Africa from 14 June 1999 to 24 September 2008. He is also the brother of Moeletsi Mbeki...

 of South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 in conjunction with Former President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Abdelaziz Bouteflika is the ninth President of Algeria. He has been in office since 1999. He continued emergency rule until 24 February 2011, and presided over the end of the bloody Algerian Civil War in 2002...

 of Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

; 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
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 countries endorsed the plan on July 20, 2001; and other international development partners, including the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, 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
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 (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
Good governance
Good governance is an indeterminate term used in development literature to describe how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources in order to guarantee the realization of human rights. Governance describes "the process of decision-making and the process by which...

, 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
African Peer Review Mechanism
The African Peer Review Mechanism is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union as a self-monitoring 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
Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria. It is located in the centre of Nigeria, within the Federal Capital Territory . Abuja is a planned city, and was built mainly in the 1980s. It officially became Nigeria's capital on 12 December 1991, replacing Lagos...

 in March 2003, including a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by governments wishing to undertake the peer review.

Current status

Ever since it was set up there has been some tension over the place of NEPAD within the AU programs, given its origins outside the framework of 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.


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 projects and program development.

The NEPAD Secretariat 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
Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki
Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki was Prime Minister of Niger from November 27, 1997, to January 3, 2000.-Fourth Republic:Under President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, who seized power in a January 1996 coup, Mayaki was named Deputy Minister for Cooperation, under the Minister of Foreign Affairs, André Salifou,...

 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
Regional Economic Communities
The Regional Economic Communities in Africa group together individual countries in subregions for the purposes of achieving greater economic integration...

 -- the building blocks of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

. 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.


  • UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
  • African Development Bank
    African Development Bank
    The African Development Bank Group is a development bank established in 1964 with the intention of promoting economic and social development in Africa...

  • Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA)
  • Investment Climate Facility (ICF)
  • African Capacity Building Foundation
  • Office of the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa
  • IDC (The Industrial Development Corporation) - Sponsor of NEPAD


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:
  • The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), aimed at assisting the launching of a 'green revolution' in Africa, based on a belief in the key role of agriculture in development.
  • The NEPAD Science and Technology programme, including an emphasis on research in areas such as water science and energy.
  • The "e-schools programme", adopted by the HSGIC in 2003 as an initiative to equip all 600,000 primary and secondary schools in Africa with IT
    Information technology
    Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

     equipment and internet access within 10 years, in partnership with several large IT companies. See NEPAD E-School program
  • The launch of a Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF) by the Public Investment Corporation of South Africa, to finance high priority cross-border infrastructure projects.
  • Capacity building for continental institutions, working with the African Capacity Building Foundation, the Southern Africa Trust, UNECA, the African Development Bank, and other development partners. One of NEPAD's priorities has been to strengthen the capacity of and linkages among the Regional Economic Communities.
  • They had something to do with the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project
    Timbuktu Manuscripts Project
    The term Timbuktu Manuscripts applies to 700,000 medieval African documents, ranging from scholarly works to short letters, that have been preserved by private households in Timbuktu. The manuscripts were passed down in Timbuktu families and are mostly in poor condition. Some of the manuscripts...

     although it's not entirely clear what that was.


NEPAD was initially met with a great deal of scepticism from much of civil society in Africa as playing into the 'Washington Consensus
Washington Consensus
The term Washington Consensus was coined in 1989 by the economist John Williamson to describe a set of ten relatively specific economic policy prescriptions that he considered constituted the "standard" reform package promoted for crisis-wracked developing countries...

' 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 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
Abdoulaye Wade
Abdoulaye Wade is the third and current President of Senegal, in office since 2000. He is also the Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party and has led the party since it was founded in 1974...

, 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. There is a great lack of information about the day-to-day activities of the NEPAD secretariat—the website is notably uninformative—that does not help its case.

However, the program has also received some acceptance from those initially very critical, and in general its status has become less controversial as it has become more established and its programs have 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.

See also

  • African Peer Review Mechanism
    African Peer Review Mechanism
    The African Peer Review Mechanism is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by the member states of the African Union as a self-monitoring mechanism...

  • African Union
    African Union
    The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

  • NEPAD African Western and Southern Networks of centre of Excellence in water sciences

External links