Position:Letter to the Editor


Your recent coverage of the NEPAD initiative prompts me to write. What has appeared in your magazine suggests a vital flaw in the project. That is the apparent lack of grassroots contributions. Instead, we are being asked, once again, to leave it to the politicians to formulate and execute a strategy to address Africa's problems.

I am not suggesting that NEPAD is anything other than a real attempt by our leaders to uplift the continent, but am left with this sinking feeling that in the absence of any substantial involvement by 'civil society', this project is doomed to failure.

I don't know enough to comment on the record of Presidents Wade of Senegal or Boutifleka of Algeria, two of the main players in this initiative. But the track-record of the other main proponents, Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mbeki of South Africa, can only be described as patchy.

Take Nigeria. Since the start of the democratic dispensation, the economic indicators have been lacklustre. FDI has mainly been directed towards the oil industry. Otherwise, all I can see is investment in cigarette manufacturing, breweries and mobile-phone infrastructure. Where is the investment in agriculture and...

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