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What’s new in the ‘New Partnership for Africa’s Development’?

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This article provides an overview of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) in the context of Africa’s current economic and governance crises, the attempt to establish an Africa Union, and the interest in Africa displayed by the G8 leadership and in particular by the UK’s prime minister Tony Blair.

NEPAD has to be seen simultaneously as a ‘big idea’, a new way of doing business, and a comprehensive development framework. The ‘big idea’ is to put Africa’s concerns on the table of the G8 and seek a much better deal for Africa in terms of international aid, debt relief and access to markets. The new way of doing business is a new form of ‘enhanced’ development partnership that makes both donor and recipient mutually accountable for development outcomes. The development framework is a long—and expanding—list of programmes and projects, akin to those that have been tried before.

The heart of NEPAD is a commitment to good governance, operationalized through a radical plan for ‘peer review’ of governance performance. This promises a radical new approach to development partnership, but it also faces political hazards. The governance component is also analysed in the context of the pan–Africa institutions envisaged by the African Union. There is a need for coordinating and rationalizing peace and security initiatives. NEPAD may unlock additional financing for development, but it should not be seen as a cash cow.

The challenges for NEPAD include opening up the process to make it more participatory, including greater focus on HIV/AIDS. NEPAD faces the real danger of being over–sold and of raising unrealistic expectations among Africans. It is, nevertheless, an outstanding opportunity for Africa’s development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Director of Justice Africa, Director of Programmes at the International African Institute and an adviser to the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa

Publication date: July 1, 2002

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