Address by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) - SAIIA, 21 November 2001

Distinguished Guests,

I thank the South African Institute of International Affairs for giving me an opportunity to discuss the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It is important that we critically look at the challenges facing our continent and in partnership work to meet these challenges.

I am pleased to say that the rabid Afro-pessimism of the last few years is on the retreat. Positive events on the continent have proven many sceptics wrong. The reality is that the last ten years have seen a move towards the establishment of multi-party democracies throughout the continent. Since the early 1990’s 42 of 48 sub-Saharan states have held multi-party presidential or parliamentary elections. These developments signal a realisation that for African to develop, countries need to adopt policies aimed at providing democracy, good governance and human rights. There are of course exceptions to these changes, but these are out numbered by countries willing to adopt change.

Callisto Madavo and Jean-Louis Sarib, Vice Presidents, Africa Region of the World Bank wrote in 1997: "Africa is on the move. From Mali to Uganda to South Africa, hope and real success are transforming the continent. A new spirit of social and economic progress has energised much of the region. Gradually the rest of the world is beginning to take notice of Africa."

Why is there a fresh wind of confidence and optimism blowing in our continent?

President Mbeki states that "there exists within our continent a generation which has been victim to all things which created the negative past; this generation remains African and carries with it a historic pride which compels it to seek a place for Africans equal to all other peoples of our common universe…. I believe that the new African generations have learned and are learning from the experience of the past. I further believe that they are unwilling to continue to repeat the wrongs that have occurred".

The OUA Summit held in Algiers in July 1999 heralds one of the positive turning points in the Continents history for it was here that a firm commitment was made to devise a foundation for Africa’s recovery. Presidents Obasanjo, Bouteflika and Mbeki was mandated to prepare a plan in this regard. African Leaders adopted this new initiative earlier this year at the OAU Summit in Zambia. At the Implementation Committee Meeting of Heads of State and Government held recently in Abuja, the initiative was renamed the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

This new Initiative is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and at the same time to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The Initiative is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world. It is a call for a new relationship of partnership between Africa and the international community to overcome the development chasm. The partnership is to be founded on a realisation of common interest, benefit and equality.

The Initiative is premised on African states making commitments to good governance, democracy and human rights, while endeavouring to prevent and resolve situations of conflict and instability on the continent. Coupled to these efforts to create conditions conducive for investment, growth and development, are initiatives to raise the necessary resources to address the development chasm in critical sectors that are highlighted in the Programme, such as infrastructure, education, health, agriculture and ICT.

NEPAD is a necessary African initiative to transform the reality that our continent, despite all its resources, is the poorest in the world.

The facts make disturbing reading:

The number of Africa’s poor have grown relentlessly and Africa’s share of the world’s absolute poor increased from 25% to 30% in the 1990’s. Africa’s share of world trade has plummeted since 1960. It now accounts for less than 2% of world trade and if SA is taken out of the equation, the figure for Africa is a mere 1.2%. Africa is the only region to see investments and savings decline after 1970. The Savings rate in many African countries are the lowest in the world.

In 1997 Africa’s debt was estimated to be $159 billion and by 1999 this increased to 201 billion dollars. We are faced with the reality that outstanding external debts in many African countries exceed the entire GDP, and debt service requirements exceed 25% of total export earnings.

Overseas development assistance has dropped more than one fifth in real terms since 1992.

Many of our countries have taken steps to create a climate conducive to direct foreign investment. They have either through structural adjustment programmes or as country programmes put in place trade liberalisation policies; the strengthening of the rule of law; improvements in legal and other instruments; greater investment in infrastructure development, privatisation, greater accountability and transparency, greater degree of financial and budgetary discipline and the creation and consolidation of multi-party democracies. However foreign direct investment has not flowed sufficiently to Africa.
Diseases such as HIV/Aids, Malaria, and Tuberculosis are causing havoc.

The picture is non-the better when one examines the digital divide that our continent experiences compared to the rest of the world. Electrical power consumption per person in Africa is the lowest in the world; Tokyo has more telephones than the whole of Africa; less than half of 1% of all Africans have used the internet.

This stark reality provides a fertile environment for conflict, instability and underdevelopment. The continuing conflicts in Angola and the DRC and the growing economic and political crisis remain matters of concern

This does indeed present us with a bleak picture of our continent. But what it also does is present us with is a challenge to utilise the new initiative to build partnerships, not only between African nations themselves but also between Africa and the international community to overcome these problems. The Communiqué of the G8 meeting at the Genoa G8 Summit in July 2001 agreed to support African efforts to resolve African problems. Peace, stability and the eradication of poverty in Africa are among the most important challenges we face in the new millennium.

To quote from the NEPAD document, "NEPAD recognises that there have been attempts in the past to set out continent wide-development programmes. For a variety of reasons, both internal and external, including questionable leadership and ownership by Africans themselves, these have been less than successful. However, today there is a new set of circumstances, which lend themselves to integrated practical implementation."

President Mbeki, commenting on the Initiative, said that: "We speak here of a realistic Programme of Action and not a mere wish list. As we have taken these decisions, we have also made the commitment that we will ourselves, as Africans, ensure that we discharge our own responsibilities to implement what we have committed ourselves to implement. In our actions, we will be guided by the principle – nothing is done until it is done!"

The NEPAD initiative identifies the following key priorities:

Necessary Conditions for development:
Peace, security, democracy and political governance
Economic and corporate governance, with a focus on public finance management
Regional co-operation and integration

Priority sectors:
Infrastructure and development
Information and communications technology
Human development, with a focus on health, education and skills development
Promoting diversification of production and exports, with a focus on market access for African exports to industrialised countries

Mobilising resources:
Increasing savings and capital inflows via further debt relief, increased ODA flows and private capital, as well as better management of public revenue and expenditure.

The governance of this initiative would be the AU summit of Heads of State and Government, whose function would be to provide the policy framework. There would be a 15 Heads of State Implementation Committee chaired by President Obasanjo and convened by President Mbeki. This committees functions would be to determine policies and priorities and approve programme of action. In addition there would be a steering committee of 15 experts which will develop a strategic plan for marketing NEPAD at international, sub-regional, regional and international levels, with the aim of mobilising domestic support and facilitating private-public partnerships. The Secretariat would have a full time staff and would be based in Pretoria. South Africa will also lead the Committee to deal with peace and security.


The challenges are enormous. Not all our countries have sufficient technical and human expertise.

To achieve the objectives of NEPAD we must have strong institutional structures at the continental and sub-regional levels. The OAU Summit thus made the historical decision to transform the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in to the African Union (AU).

The Constitutive Act of the African Union states that the objectives of the AU includes the promotion of democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance. In order to allow the AU to fulfil its objectives, the AU will consist of various institutions including:

the Assembly
the Commission (Secretariat) of the Union;
the Pan-African Parliament
the Pan-African Court of Justice
the Economic, Social and Cultural Council
the Mechanism for Conflict for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution; and
the Specialised Technical Committees such as those dealing with capacity building on peace and security (OAU), economic and corporate governance (UNECA), infrastructure (ADB), central Bank and financial standards (ADB) and agriculture and market Access (OAU).

These organs will contribute to the maintenance of transparency and democracy within the organisation. The Pan-African Parliament for example would be a body that would enhance the participation of African peoples, through their elected representatives, in the work of the African Union.

The conviction, which has been expressed strongly and emphatically, is that the African Union should be different – it should not be a mere continuation of the OAU under a different name; and, therefore, the structure that it is endowed with and the capacities build into it have to enable the realisation of the objectives of enhancing the economic, political and social integration and development of the African people. The African Union must be something new, with the emphasis on being an African experience.

The Constitutive Act had been signed by all OAU member states and has, to date, been ratified by fifty-one countries.

NEPAD will be built on the foundations of sub-regional groupings. This highlights the importance of SADC. SADC is also therefore undergoing a major restructuring exercise. It is moving towards a more streamlined structure and moving away from the sectoral approaches of the past, in favour of an integrated and co-ordinated programme of activities for the region.

The SADC Summit held in Blantyre in August focussed attention on the implementation of the restructuring of the operations of SADC Institutions. This restructuring is expected to give the organisation the institutional framework required to support the New African Initiative. The decision making with the organisation is also been re-examined with proposals that the decision making operate on a troika basis. This will undoubtedly create better conditions for the consolidation of democracy in our region. Good governance, democracy and the rule of law is the foundation on which SADC will develop.


We seek to achieve African development in a new world that has fundamentally changed.

It is characterised by the end of the Cold War, the experience of a unipolar world, also unprecedented globalisation.

We can also not ignore the effects of the horrendous terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September the 11th.


I would like to reiterate, South Africa unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks on the USA and recognises the right of the US administration to seek out those responsible for those acts of terror perpetrated against people on September 11 and to ensure that justice is meted out to them. Such acts, however, should be informed by incontrovertible evidence and must be directed against the actual culprits.

In order to defeat terrorism we must adopt a holistic approach by dealing with the root causes, inter alia, conflicts especially in the Middle East, poverty and underdevelopment, drugs trafficking, transnational crime, arms smuggling and money laundering.


NEPAD is not an event but a process that is very challenging and fraught with many difficulties.

However for the first time we have an African programme, determined by African’s that must guide us.

"Tell no lies, claim no easy victories".

I wish to thank the Western Cape Branch of the South African Institute of International Affairs for allowing me the opportunity to share some thoughts on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. Africa has embarked on a very exciting path. It is through forums such as these that we can share ideas in a new partnership contribute to making our visions a reality.

I thank you.

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