Address at the Work-in-Progress Review
Workshop of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD), 24 Jan 2002
Mr Amara Essy, Secretary General of the OAU
The Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Metro, Councillor
Minister of Health of Mali - The Honourable Dr Nafo
Members of the South African Cabinet
Chief Executives of Regional Economic Committees
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Personal Representatives of Heads of States of the Implementation
Presenters and Delegates:
I am very pleased to be among such eminent analysts,
development practitioners, and distinguished delegates
and representatives from all over our continent and
indeed the world.
I believe that the commitment of all who are present
and who have travelled from afar to be here is indicative
of the positive sentiments towards the New Partnership
for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the widespread
support among Africans for this plan.
In a similar vein, we must recognise that we have great
expectations of the outcomes of this gathering. It must
serve to prioritise and concretise implementation and
put the processes in place for the realisation of our
Clearly, this is not the first time Africans have come
together for the renewal of this continent. Throughout
the last century and even prior to this period, various
Africans played their parts in organising nations and
continents in support of African development.
Political leaders, economists, doctors, philosophers
and poets have contributed in analysing the African
reality, putting forward programmes of action and dreaming
of a great African future. The resultant initiatives
have met at times with varying degrees of success and
often with failure in a climate that was hostile to
African unity and African prosperity, a reality characterised
by Africans reduced to cheap labour and an Africa seen
only as a source of raw materials for the developed
Yet it was under these circumstances that for instance,
Edward Blyden, one of our foremost Pan-Africanists,
promoted the idea of Africans taking possession of their
lives, owning their future.
In an address to the Liberian College in 1881, Blyden
said the following:
"The African must advance by methods of his own.
We must possess a power distinct from that of the European."
We must show that we are able to go alone,
to carve out our own way."
This dream of 1881, three years before Africa was carved
up at the Berlin Conference, was not one that could
be realised in the century that ensued, that saw the
entrenchment of colonialism, racism and neo-colonialism,
with African economies becoming dependent on the metropolitan
countries and the destruction of the productive capacity
of African peoples to work in their own interests and
for their own gain.
The impoverishment of the African people resulted in
battles for survival and for scarce resources among
different groups. The conflicts we have experienced
led to Africa being defined as a place of wars, disease,
dictatorships and hunger with political leaders being
unable to unite the people in practical and sustained
ways behind common goals and objectives.
Afro-pessimism pervaded to the extent that there are
those who would say that we have forfeited our right
as Africans to dream, to hope, to speak and to plan
for a better life.
There are those even now who will argue that the hopes
for an African renaissance are ill-founded and that
Africa cannot guarantee her own future.
Yet, clearly, the latter half of the twentieth century
has seen a new attitude among Africans who now choose
to see themselves as activists for change, who are reclaiming
their place as equals among other humans, who walk a
common continent and world proud of who they are and
confident of their abilities for self-development.
This new confidence and this new African emerges out
of an Africa that has largely moved to genuine independence
and democracy, where the colonial system has been liquidated,
where efforts are focused on the ending of conflicts
and the attainment of peace and stability, where the
consciousness exists that Africa's economic and social
upliftment is dependent on African unity and African
peoples and countries working together to fortify themselves
and insert themselves favourably in a world economy
from which they have largely been excluded as global
The New Partnership for Africa's Development answers
Blyden's call for African ownership, African possession,
and asserts that Africans can and must advance by methods
of their own and indeed are able "to carve out
our own way."
It is premised on recognition that Africa has an abundance
of natural resources and people who have the capacity
to be agents for change and so holds the key to her
The New Partnership is unique in African history in
that African leaders have pledged to co-operate and
be accountable to one another and to their people in
terms of the development strategy, plans and delivery
(Statement by an African leader at Lusaka.)
For the first time perhaps, an implementation strategy
exists led by the leaders and not simply delegated to
officials, so that genuine progress can be made.
Through the organising of NEPAD into an implementation
committee, a steering committee and a secretariat, there
is in place a clear leadership and management structure
with the necessary professional expertise that is capable
of dealing with political issues and technical issues
competently and efficiently.
Moreover, we have established a governing structure
and put Heads of State in charge, where leaders must
account to their counterparts at summits and interact
with their development partners in industrialised countries.
There is also the overall accountability to the OAU
(Organisation of African Unity) for the NEPAD initiative
and the guidance that comes from the OAU on how to take
forward this plan.
We have to highlight the approval of NEPAD by the OAU
Heads of State and Government summit in Lusaka last
year, followed by endorsement by African scholars. The
interest of ordinary Africans in this initiative has
also been awakened and this inculcates in everyone a
consciousness that the NEPAD initiative exists ultimately
to better the lives of the African people and thus must
be accountable to them.
The interaction with the developed countries even prior
to the formation of the Implementation Committee has
resulted in NEPAD being high on the agenda at international
gatherings, having received warm reception in July 2001
in Geneva at the UN ECOSOC Ministerial meeting, receiving
endorsement from the G8 in Genoa who promptly appointed
a Committee to work with NEPAD countries, receiving
strong support from the EU in Brussels in October 2001
which included agreement to support infrastructure and
NEPAD once more received attention at the 56th Session
of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in
December of last year. In addition, the Nordic countries
have committed themselves to supporting NEPAD, especially
through the financing of specific priority projects.
The Tokyo Agenda for action and the Beijing Declaration
have also given clear support to African development,
ensuring the participation of these regions in NEPAD
Statements by President Bush in July last year to the
World Bank have clearly articulated that there must
be a rethinking of the financing of education and health
in developing countries in the form of loans and this
realisation is important for the human development aspects
of NEPAD; while Prime Minister Tony Blair especially
in the post September 11th period has come out in support
of African Development
The intense work carried out by African heads of state
has succeeded in generating hope and confidence in the
future of our continent and in attaining acceptance
of NEPAD as a policy framework informing the way they
view African development.
This workshop takes on even more significance since
we now have an urgent responsibility to develop implementable
plans, to ensure that the excellent programmes and policies
that exist on paper succeed in practice, that African
technical expertise from within Africa and the diaspora
is harnessed to convert those programmes and policies
into practical and implementable programmes and projects,
that the African people come to own these programmes
as belonging to them.
We are privileged to have in our midst the secretariat
of the OAU of which NEPAD is an initiative and to which
it annually shall report at the summits of the African
Union. We meet here over the next few days conscious
that we are managing NEPAD on behalf of them and mindful
that our work takes place within the principles of the
OAU and to underpin the political union. For the African
Union to succeed there must be in place a development
programme that will accelerate economic integration
and the reduction of poverty levels; thus the New Partnership
as a process complements the activities towards the
We are pleased that representatives of the African
Development Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa
and ECA (the Economic Commission for Africa) are present
at this workshop, all of whom have pledged technical
support to NEPAD in its implementation phase.
The presence of delegates from regional economic structures
as well as Africa-wide structures and international
development institutions indicates that for the first
time on this continent technical capacity is being mobilised
around this initiative and to guarantee its success.
We must also acknowledge the support from global institutions
for NEPAD who are represented here and the importance
we place upon sharing this experience with global partners
This plan must look at the measures that Africa must
take in detailed fashion:
to ensure that a climate for economic growth is established
throughout the continent;
that security exists for the people of these countries
that measures for good governance are put in place through
which our governments as accountable to their peoples;
that best practices are agreed upon and put in place
for economic and political governance.
We must do these things because we owe this to our people.
Our ability to possess a reality and a future is dependent
on the conditions existing for its success, on resources
being utilised to attain these goals.
Our plan would be incomplete if we were not to focus
on areas of human development. In this regard we must
Our ability to deal with communicable diseases among
other things, (NB. Prof Jeffrey Sachs WHO "Commission
on Macroeconomics and Health";
Empowering our people through education,
Putting in place essential infrastructure for human
There is an urgent need for infrastructure investment
including in ICTs so as to reduce the cost of doing
business in Africa, among other things. In this way,
we aim to reverse the increased marginalisation of the
continent during the period of globalisation. Our economic
development is also dependent on increasing our competitiveness
in the world economy.
This workshop must produce concrete plans in these
critical areas that are acceptable to all of us and
viewed as implementable.
We will not have achieved all our goals if we do not
focus on matters of trade and finance, with special
attention to African access to markets and trade flows.
We are faced with a global reality where the present
financial architecture makes it difficult for developing
countries especially in Africa to attract capital, where
the debt burden partly stems from unequal relations.
This gathering will have to work out concrete implementable
plans that must influence the financing of development,
and detailed programmes that must be promoted within
Africa so that we mobilise more resources from ourselves
and our own budgets and also negotiate for other sources
with international institutions.
Clearly, our continent has resources that must be unleashed,
but these will have to be coupled with the participation
of our development partners in these processes, so that
we use this programme to engage development partners
in accepting our programmes as the basis for growth.
The forthcoming "Financing for Development Conference"
in Mexico in March this year requires that we be prepared
to take our agenda to this meeting.
The World Summit for Sustainable Development to be
held here in Johannesburg in August affords us the opportunity
to state our case, what we are doing, and what we think
ought to be done in conjunction with our development
partners and other countries of the world.
Only in these ways shall we be able to say that we
are being proactive implementers of our own sustained
development, that truly we are making steady advances
in the realisation of an African renaissance.
If we cannot unite through an initiative that can permanently
reshape this continent and bring about sustained improvement
in the lives of our people, then we would have lost
an opportunity that will not arise for some time.
We have generated so much excitement, enthusiasm, and
commitment for NEPAD, for Africa, for world development,
that we dare not fail in our tasks.
As African institutions and expertise, it is only through
you that this continent can succeed in overcoming past
injustices and failures and make this the century of
African development and prosperity.
The burden now rests on your shoulders. The masses
of our people, our governments and our development partners
await the results of this workshop and anticipate the
plans that must forever change their lives and enable
all of us as Africans to carve our own way in the world.
I thank you.