The African Development Bank Group's next annual meeting, on 28-30 of May at the Addis Ababa UN Conference Centre, is expected to be a watershed in the economic history of Africa. Some 1,500 private and public sector managers, including Finance Ministers of the Bank Group's 77 member countries will attend.
In addition, African Heads of State will attend the ABD's yearly symposium on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) on 27 May. On the eve of this historic meeting, African Business editor Anver Versi interviews the ADB Group's President, Omar Kabbaj (right).
African Business: The latest buzz word among African governments is Nepad. Is this yet another 'talking-shop' action plan or can we expect concrete results and if so, what sort of results?
Omar Kabbaj: As you are aware, Nepad is a home-grown African initiative that was inspired by the UN Millennium Declaration approved by 149 world leaders in September 2000. It called for a new partnership and a pledge to assist African countries in their struggle for lasting peace, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.
As stated by the five African founding fathers, the primary goal of Nepad is to eradicate poverty in Africa, and to place African countries, individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development and thus halt the marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process.
It is a shift of development paradigm from passive development assistance to active development assistance through a partnership framework in which both the donor community as well as the African countries are called upon to take on their respective roles and responsibilities of the development agenda.
Thus, Nepad is consistent with the generally accepted development paradigm as it calls on African leaders to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty by strengthening governance, implementing sound macro-economic policies, and boosting domestic savings mobilisation. It is also an expression of the determination of African leaders to assume the ownership of the development process.
AB: What is the organisational structure of Nepad?
OK: At the 37th OAU summit in Lusaka, Zambia, where Nepad was adopted by the African Heads of State in July 2001, a fourtier governing structure was created.
It was decided that the OAU/AU Summit of Heads of State and Government shall be the decision-making body. The day-to-day management and implementation of the initiative was delegated to the 15-member Heads of State Implementation Committee (HSIC).
Next, the Steering Committee, which is made up of the personal representatives of the five initiating states (Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa) was given the responsibility for developing terms of reference for identified programs and projects and also overseeing the activities of the Nepad Secretariat.
The Nepad Secretariat, which is made up of a small full-time core staff based in Midrand, South Africa, was charged with functions of liaison, co-ordination, administration and logistics in support of the Initiative.
The Steering Committee is liaising closely with selected development partners as lead agencies to secure their advice in their respective areas of...