The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a continent-wide economic, social and political strategy, was endorsed by the same OAU summit in Lusaka, Zambia, that initiated the transition to the African Union (see Africa Recovery, October 2001). The programme, however, stirred some questions during the 3-8 March African Development Forum in Addis Ababa (see article "African Union: a dream under construction"). Professor Shadrack Gutto of South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, believed that NEPAD "offers a promise" to Africa, but asked why it was presented first to the Group of Eight industrialized countries, before African governments had a chance to discuss it with their own people. Mr. Hassan Sunmonu, secretary-general of the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, worried that NEPAD could undercut efforts at regional economic integration in Africa, within the framework of the African Union (AU).
Mr. Wiseman Nkuhlu, the South African president's special adviser on NEPAD, responded that it is in fact "a programme of the OAU." However, since the organization is currently preoccupied with building the AU, much work on NEPAD is currently under the direction of 15 African heads of state, known as the Implementation Committee. He added that both the OAU secretary-general and chairman participate in the committee's deliberations. Mr. Nkuhlu acknowledged that consultation with civil society "is not where we would like it," and that more must be done to explain its goals.
Later that month, at a two-day Implementation Committee meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika similarly emphasized the need to "sensitize" Africans to NEPAD, since the people's active participation will be vital to its success. And although donors have warmly welcomed NEPAD, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said, it is important to ensure that they do not attach new conditions to their assistance, thereby weakening African ownership of the programme.
A few days earlier, addressing the UN-sponsored International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, President Obasanjo sounded the same note. NEPAD can benefit from Northern partnerships, he said, but "we must guard that NEPAD is not being turned against us as a tool for new conditionality."