|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by New Partnership for Africa’s Development
In the 10 years since its creation, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had helped countries improve their agriculture, infrastructure and health sectors, and future priorities now centred on working with regional economic communities to further increase the continent’s engagement with the international community, top United Nations and regional officials said today at a Headquarters press briefing.
Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, kicked off a panel discussion on the continent’s future, saying that since its inception in 2001, the Partnership had promoted innovative approaches to improving African economies. He was accompanied by Amos Namanga Ngongi, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa; Cheikh Sidi Diarra, United Nations Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and Amos Sawyer, a member of the NEPAD African Peer Review Mechanism’s Panel of Eminent Persons.
Describing a number of NEPAD successes in response to questions, Mr. Mayaki cited a centre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, that provided policy inputs for the use of biotechnology in the health and agriculture sectors. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) focused on that sector as the best way to reduce poverty and create jobs, he said, recalling that before the Programme’s creation, agriculture had been neglected for 30 years and left off the agenda of donors. Additionally, the NEPAD-led Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, in which the African Development Bank was involved, had designed a strategic framework for the development of regional and continental infrastructure.
Complementing those efforts, Mr. Sawyer added, was the African Peer Review Mechanism, an instrument born in 2003 and to which African Union member States had and voluntarily acceded. It encouraged conformity of political, economic and corporate-governance standards among African countries, he said, describing the Mechanism as a scientific, action-focused process that had culminated in a plan of action for each country, in the belief that self-assessment and good governance were closely linked to institutional development. “We go beyond words,” he added.
For its own part, Mr. Diarra said, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa had provided an entry point for the United Nations to support NEPAD processes, notably through the interdepartmental Task Force on African Affairs, which worked with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to ensure coherence.
Mr. Ngongi said: “There is no challenge greater for Africa than the capacity to feed itself.” As a NEPAD partner, the Alliance for a Green Revolution was a non-State actor working with farmers to transform the continent’s agriculture, he said, adding that the sector was vital to increasing the income of 70 per cent of Africa’s population.
Responding to a series of questions, Mr. Mayaki described a planning commission created in reaction to the “erosion” of strategic thinking resulting from International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment programmes. Stressing that planning was essential, he said it was taking on a new importance in the context of climate change, a multisectoral issue affecting agriculture, health, land tenure and infrastructure. Referring specifically to climate change, he noted that while Africa was the least responsible for pollution, it suffered the phenomenon’s greatest impacts. “We need to push our negotiating stance in the global negotiations arena” and to design adaptation strategies to help reach set objectives, he emphasized. Such strategies were already being launched in some countries, he said, adding that the challenge was one of financing. More domestic resources must be brought into policies.
Mr. Sawyer added that climate change was a potential source of intra-State conflict as it affected environmental and other resources.
Asked about the Peer Review Mechanism, Mr. Sawyer said every review ended with a programme of action laid out for the participating country. The concerned Government then filed a progress report highlighting successes and challenges. Countries including South Africa and Kenya had admitted that they had not initially adopted the Review’s findings, but they had later taken the reports more seriously. Implementation difficulties were often due to “competition” with other poverty-reduction or mid-term development plans, he said, adding that the challenge lay aligning all such plans with each other.
To a question about the world body’s work with the Bretton Woods institutions, Mr. Diarra said the United Nations was increasing its cooperation with them, notably through the Economic and Social Council’s special high-level meetings. The World Bank and IMF were also full members of the Task Force on African Affairs, participating in regional coordination mechanisms, he added.
As to whether he would assume a role in ECA, he said he was unaware of any openings in the Commission. “As a result, I have not applied and I am not a candidate.”
Asked whether NEPAD was primarily focused on planning, Mr. Mayaki said its development strategy was linked to a delivery process carried out in various subregions around the continent. In West Africa, for example, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme had been translated into a regional strategy for States. The implementation phase called for enhanced institutional ability to evaluate situations and increase both private-sector investment and human capital. In the infrastructure area, resources had been channelled through the African Development Bank, he said, describing that model as “unique worldwide”.
Turning to the issue of corruption, he said Africa was not the most corrupt continent, adding “Asia is as corrupt as Africa”. The difference was that the fruits of corruption in Asia stayed there, whereas in Africa they did not.
On that point, Mr. Sawyer said “we need to have institutional clarity, functioning judiciaries and strong political will”. Civil society organizations must do more to involve people in the fight against corruption, he added, pointing out that 30 countries had acceded to the African Peer Review.
Addressing other queries, Mr. Diarra described two processes affecting Africa today. Decentralization had allowed local communities to “take up their fate” on issues like education and health under central Government supervision, but with more space for local government. In addition, Africa’s regional integration had “softened” the grip of centralized power in many countries, especially in relation to regional agreements already ratified and awaiting implementation. Integration also cast light on how Governments spent money and made decisions, he added.
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