Magazine article UN Chronicle

NEPAD: Making Individual Bests a Continental Norm. (SystemWatch)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

NEPAD: Making Individual Bests a Continental Norm. (SystemWatch)

Article excerpt

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is the most important advance in development thinking for Africa in the past forty years. Why? Because it provides leadership: that leadership assures ownership; and that ownership changes the rules for partnerships outside the continent. It is first and foremost a framework for a new partnership between African leaders and African peoples. At its core is a commitment by Africa's leaders to creating the enabling environment for economic development.

They are taking joint responsibility for promoting and protecting democracy and human rights, and by promoting the advance of African women in social and economic development. Through NEPAD, they are also committed to restoring and sustaining macroeconomic stability and to building the capacity to enforce the legal framework, uphold law and order and strengthen the mechanisms to reestablish and maintain peace and security.

With NEPAD, Africa's leaders have set their own agenda for the continent's renewal--an agenda based on national and regional priorities, with plans prepared through participatory processes, giving voice to their people.

As research shows, good development outcomes are far more likely under such true ownership, because it directly affects programme acceptance and implementation. One precondition for ownership is national capacity--to plan, to manage, to deliver. And as development programmes become Africa owned and led, their oversight will shift from donor-conditionality to self-monitoring and peer review. That means donors will have to be willing to coordinate their aid and policy approaches with African agendas, and redirect their technical assistance to building capacity for the long term.

There is a pressing need for new, stronger partnerships between African leaders and their societies, and between all States of the region, in order to effectively meet the continent's development challenges. It is thus of critical importance that NEPAD is more than a top-down or top-top process at the country level, or one where at the regional level only a few countries are moving forward.

NEPAD must be for everyone. Indeed, its true success is predicated on the active involvement of all Africans. This, however, is not yet the case and there remains much confusion and misunderstanding about the framework, especially among some quarters of civil society.

As a result, it is clear that the initiative needs to be better explained and better understood so as to promote a sense of involvement and ownership among all stakeholders. Africa also cannot achieve sustainable growth without a transformed partnership with the international community--a new partnership based on mutual responsibility for agreed development outcomes.

An essential part of that responsibility is peer review by Africans. Another big change is the move from fragmented donor-driven projects to predictable long-term support for Africa-owned programmes, and to a more mature partnership characterized by two-way dialogues and consensus-building. At the heart of NEPAD is the implication that partnership modalities must be tailored to fit a diversity of conditions. Given the diversity in Africa, different forms of development assistance might therefore be offered to the following three groups of countries on the continent:

Those with well-articulated development strategies and the capacity to implement them. They are committed to sustaining their macro fundamentals to reduce poverty through broad-based growth, and have transparent and accountable systems of public finance. Also, they have in place the systems and processes that would allow them to benefit from direct budget support, with a shift from conditionality to self-monitoring, fostered by peer review.

Those that face severe capacity constraints. They could benefit from project support, and if they have a solid medium-term programme of sectoral priorities and institutional reforms, they could also benefit from sector-wide adjustment programmes. …

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