NEPAD: a partnership of unequal partners.

Author:Asante, S.K.B
Position:New Partnership for Africa's Development - Cover Story

Partnership implies a certain amount of reciprocity, mutual respect and equity. But what happens when you have such a huge gap between the partners? Will NEPAD achieve anything other than tying Africa too closely to the West at precisely the time when, finally, it should be breaking the connection somewhat?

An important aspect of the African Union is the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which continues to command the attention of African leaders, policy-makers, academic theoreticians and pragmatic activists.

NEPAD is a partnership established by African leaders essentially with the G8, or Group of Eight, countries. This new form of partnership is based on mutually agreed responsibilities and accountability. Specifically, Africa's external partners have to fully open their markets to African exports, encourage and facilitate investment in Africa by their private sectors, take further measures on debt relief, and provide significantly higher levels of aid in the medium term.

The Monterrey (Mexico) Conference of March 2002 has, in particular, achieved a consensus on significant increases in aid. Based on this partnership, the G8 countries endorsed NEPAD and adopted an Africa Action Plan at their Kananaski (Canada) summit in June 2002.

In its Action Plan, the G8 indicates that it will enter into "enhanced partnership" with African countries that meet the performance standards of NEPAD, and also assist those that are committed to working towards meeting the NEPAD standards. The Action Plan, which constitutes the basis of the partnership, rests on demonstrated commitment to "good governance" and the rule of law, human investment, poverty reduction, and economic growth policies.

Specifically, the G8 has pledged to direct development assistance to peace and security efforts in Africa; to building institutions; to engendering commerce, growth, and sustainable development; to improving education; to improving healthcare and HIV/Aids treatment and prevention; and to increasing Africa's agricultural output.

Thus, closely related to the uncertainty and problems associated with the implementation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), is the challenge of NEPAD's relationship with the G8, which has set out clear conditions for African leaders to fulfil before it can support NEPAD.

Despite these renewed promises for assistance, G8 members are quick to stress that the Africa Action Plan is not a "Marshall Plan" for Africa. Rather than a resource commitment, the G8 Africa Action Plan is a political commitment, thus making G8 support for NEPAD contingent...

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