17 August 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Director of the Economic Development and NEPAD Division ECA’s has said that officials and experts working on the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (http://www.nepad.org) owe the public clear explanations on what the initiative has achieved in the 10 years of its existence.
Addressing an expert group meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie said that the production of a landmark report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on how the continental initiative has fared 10 years later has heightened and renewed public enthusiasm in the initiative.
He said that the report and the Ten- Year Capacity Building Program for the African Union that had been invigorated by the development of a comprehensive work program to back its implementation have combined to heightened demands from the public for concrete results, according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service (ICS).
“After the high-profile activities marking the 10th anniversary of the Program, the question is being asked, build capacity to do what?” he reported.
To seek a comprehensive answer to that question, participants at the Addis Ababa expert group meeting have been addressing issues such as what the main achievements of NEPAD are; the challenges that continue to hamper the implementation of NEPAD; what can be done to better accelerate its implementation; how the capacity building program could better support efforts to accelerate that implementation process; and the role that Regional Coordination Mechanism of UN system support to AU and its NEPAD program (RCM-Africa) can play in addressing the challenges to the implementation of NEPAD.
The report under review provides a better understanding of the challenges to the implementation of NEPAD”, Nnadozie added.
Providing ideas to lead the discussion, he cited events such as the NEPAD Colloquium and Congress held in March this year in Addis Ababa, and the Regional Dialogue on Enhanced Coordination towards NEPAD Implementation, held last June in Durban, saying they have contributed immensely to improving our understanding of what needs to be done to overcome the bottlenecks to the implementation of NEPAD.
He recalled that the Declaration on “Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation: Framework for the Ten- Year Capacity Building Program for the AU” that was signed in November 2006 had been conceived as the UN overall platform for cooperation with the AU.
He announced that the 12th Session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM-Africa) recommended the extension of its membership beyond the African Union Commission to other members of the AU family including NPCA, and Regional Economic Communities.
“This is significant as NPCA and RECs are key actors in the implementation of NEPAD. It is therefore your task to explore how to harness the Ten Year Capacity Building Program for the AU in an efficient manner to build capacity of African regional and sub-regional institutions for the optimal implementation of NEPAD”, he told the participants.
After the opening session, participants went straight into the discussion session on the overall performance of NEPAD, acknowledging that the body had executed its assigned tasks rather creditably, although many challenges still lie in ambush.
“The report and the ensuing discussions “have been very useful in that they provide answers to some of the questions which keep coming up at country-level meetings on NEPAD”, said Mr. Maurice Forbinake, a veteran journalist and NEPAD champion from Cameroon.
During the discussions it became clear that the greatest successes registered by NEPAD have been in the area of infrastructure development, agriculture and food security, the African biosafety network of experts, partnership for African fisheries and governance.
In the infrastructure sector, participants observed that African Presidents are spearheading the construction of roads and railways, optic fibre networks and gas pipelines across the continent.
Another area with remarkable success is that of agriculture and food security where the Comprehensive Agriculture Development Program, CAADP set up by NEPAD is considered as one of its most successful.
Apart from massive funding, African countries have benefited from increased bilateral commitment to agriculture; as well as private sector financing thanks to the CAADP framework, participants noted.
Another area of remarkable success has been in the building of regulatory capacity in biotechnology for enhancing food and nutritional security and socio-economic development of Africa with the putting in place of the NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Experts, (ABNE) in Burkina Faso on April 10, 2010.
There is also the Partnership for African Fisheries Program (PAF), another NEPAD initiative which has created working groups across Africa to address trade and market access, good governance and illegal fishing and aquaculture development. A 60-million US Dollar seed fund has been established in West, Central and Southern Africa as part of this program.
Governance, especially the launch of the African Peer Review Mechanism in 2003 by the African Union is another important milestone for NEPAD. It has been acceded to by 30 countries, 14 of which have been actually peer-reviewed.
Thanks to NEPAD, African countries now have an improved platform for collaboration among themselves and with development partners, based on a shared vision of the continent’s development.
The body has played a critical role in developing common African positions in global events with the recent forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, Korea and the Rio climate change conference.
But in spite of these numerous challenges, the dark spots are summarized into structural, political and economic constraints. But the experts agreed that these constraints are not of a nature to negate the huge successes registered by NEPAD.
Participants in the meeting are drawn from NEPAD Country Offices, African Union Commission, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Regional Economic Communities; the UN system, academic community as well as from the civil society.