The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was initiated by several African presidents in early 2001, and subsequently adopted as the continent's premier development framework at a July 2001 summit meeting of African heads of state. Dialogue around NEPAD's priorities is under way with the Group of Eight industrialized countries and other donors, and discussions have been spreading across Africa about this new vision for the future.
According to NEPAD, attainment of Africa's long-term development goals is anchored in the determination of African peoples "to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalizing world." It calls for a new relationship between Africa and the international community, in which the non-African partners seek to complement Africa's own efforts.
For Africa to develop, argues the New Partnership, three conditions must prevail:
- peace, security, democracy and good political governance
- improved economic and corporate governance
- regional cooperation and integration
NEPAD further identifies several priority sectors requiring special attention and action:
- physical infrastructure, especially roads, railways and power systems linking neighbouring countries
- information and communications technology
- human development, focusing on health and education, including skills development
- promoting diversification of production and exports, with a focus on market access for African exports to industrialized countries
To achieve 7 per cent annual economic growth and reduce the number of Africans living in poverty by half by the year 2015, Africa needs to fill an annual resource gap currently estimated at around $64 bn. Africa itself will need to mobilize more resources toward this end, NEPAD says, by taking steps to increase national savings by firms and households, ensuring more effective tax collection, rationalizing government expenditures, and reversing the flow of capital flight, in part by improving the conditions for domestic investments.
Much of the needed resources will need to come from outside the continent, however. Most immediately, the international community can assist by significantly increasing flows of official development assistance, although such aid needs to be significantly reformed, since the way it is currently delivered "itself creates serious problems for developing countries." Creditors also should provide more debt relief, both for countries qualifying under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative and for those outside that debt-relief framework. In addition, more foreign investment is important, but given the current difficulties of attracting private capital flows to Africa, it can only be a "longer-term" answer to the continent's resource gap. Whatever help may come from outside, states the New Partnership, "Africa recognizes that it holds the key to its own development."
The full text of NEPAD can be accessed at the Web site: <http://www.gov.za/issues/nepad.htm>.