|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
During a Headquarters press conference today, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), called for increased emphasis to be placed on the regional dimensions of the broader effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
With the General Assembly’s three-day summit-level review of the status of the implementations of the Goals under way, Mr. Mayaki briefed correspondents on NEPAD’s role in promoting Africa’s progress to that end. He said that increasing emphasis on the regional dimension of that effort would strengthen national ownership of the Goals and speed up efforts to attain them. Good governance was another key to attaining sustainable development, and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency believed that governance might be emphasized as another Millennium Goal.
He went on to say that following a transformation during the fourteenth African Union Summit this past February, NEPAD had become the Union’s development agency, with its two main priorities being agriculture and infrastructure. Within its new mandate, NEPAD’s strategic focus was on two key issues; namely, the promotion of closer cooperation with the regional economic communities in Africa, which were the key implementers of Africa’s broad strategies; and the promotion of better cooperation and harmonization between NEPAD’s activities and those of the African Union Commission. In the past, those areas had been points of weakness.
Governance in the context of the Millennium Development Goals should involve a results-based approach on whatever target was being dealt with, including managerial and monitoring systems, Mr. Mayaki stated. Although resources were important, the question of political leadership and managerial capacity to implement objectives was much more important. Thus, focus should not just be on the amount of available resources, but also on having a results-based approach. In Africa, the right strategies and objectives were present, but the capacity to implement them needed to be built and nurtured.
Pointing out that Africa had well-organized regional economic communities and that the movement towards regional integration was strong, he said that those mechanisms designed coherent regional policies based on the harmonization of national policies. It was, therefore, important to strengthen their capacities in order to spur further progress towards attainment of the Millennium Goals.
In response to a correspondent’s question, Mr. Mayaki said NEPAD did not coordinate Africa’s position with regard to trade issues but played a key role in increasing intraregional trade. Such trade was low and the mechanism to increase it was to have regional markets which were available through the regional economic communities. NEPAD believed that the competitiveness of African economies would be enhanced through regional markets that would allow for the opening of African markets to the international markets.
Regarding the food riots in Mozambique, Mr. Mayaki noted that there had been similar incidents in Africa in the past, and it had been subsequently revealed that the participants had been mainly young and unemployed and had recently arrived in cities from rural areas. Those findings were important as youths were critical in terms of the stability of governance systems. In that regard, the most challenging issue for African leaders in the next 50 years would be youth employment. That issue was “a political bomb” on which African leaders were sitting.
For its part, NEPAD believed that the best entry point to increase youth employment and reduce poverty was the development of agriculture by transforming smallholder farmers, the majority of who were rural farmers, into entrepreneurs. The best way to do that was through human capital development and training, he said, adding that youth employment was a cross-cutting issue that could be looked at through several lenses.
Noting that Africa’s per capita income was higher than India’s, he said that an overriding development concern in Africa was the level of inequality. Africa was the most unequal continent. Addressing questions of poverty and unemployment, therefore, centred on economic models that reduced inequality. NEPAD was trying to address real issues in order to get results that went towards broad attainment of the Millennium Goals.
On the Assembly’s high-level meeting, Mr. Mayaki said that the gathering was absolutely useful because the Millennium Goals were designed to be a consensual framework facilitating harmonization of anti-poverty policies. African leaders were saying more and more that there should be a shift from poverty eradication toward transforming Africa into a growth pole. Indeed, when the focus was solely on poverty eradication, some potential that could form new economies was lost. African leaders believed that the best way to reduce poverty was to increase economic growth and have the right distribution strategies. If economic growth was not increased, poverty could not be reduced significantly.
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