Remarks by Deputy Minister Fatima Hajaig at the SADC Stakeholders Engagement on NEPAD Development Bank of South Africa, Midrand, Gauteng Thursday 4 December 2008

Introduction

I am very pleased to have been afforded the opportunity to address this workshop, which is notably a critical step in coordinating the activities of national governments, regional economic communities (RECs), the private sector, civil society and other relevant stakeholders for the effective and collective implementation of NEPAD.

NEPAD has become renowned for consolidating socio-economic development initiatives on the continent and has become the basic framework for engagement between the development partners and the African community in addressing the pertinent challenges of Africa with the aim of meeting the Millennium Development Goals and, ultimately, improving the lives of people at the grass roots level.

Outline of the Presentation

The following presentation will, firstly, provide a brief background on NEPAD. Secondly, the presentation will focus on the role of member states in the implementation of NEPAD followed by an explanation of South Africa’s national approach to NEPAD implementation. Thirdly, this paper will attempt to define a national NEPAD project and, lastly, identify NEPAD areas of intervention at various levels, namely: nationally, regionally, continentally and internationally.

Background

During the OAU Summit in Lusaka in July 2001, the African Heads of State and Government emphasised the need for Africa to take urgent and effective steps to avoid the marginalisation of the Continent. Instead, the Heads of State and Government wanted to ensure that Africa becomes an active partner in the emerging world economic order.[i]

To this end, the Summit adopted the New African Initiative (thereafter referred to as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development), as the socio-economic development programme of the AU aimed at regenerating and reviving the African continent.[ii] As such, NEPAD serves as a programme of the African Union that constitutes a philosophical framework, a vision and mission for Africa, the principles and values of which are an integral part of the Union.[iii]

NEPAD should thus be seen as the new vision for the revival and development of Africa.[iv] The objectives of NEPAD are poverty eradication; sustainable socio-economic development and growth; regional and continental integration; and gender mainstreaming. 

However, the Heads of State and Government were adamant that NEPAD was not an implementation institution.[v] According to them, the actual implementation of NEPAD programmes and initiatives were to be done through:

  • Member states;
  • RECs;
  • Development institutions; and
  • Bilateral and multilateral organisations.[vi] 

Role of member states in the implementation of NEPAD

Member states, through their respective RECs, were requested to provide assistance and financial support in the further development and implementation of the NEPAD priority programmes. Member states were also requested to assist with in the continued popularisation of NEPAD amongst all sectors of society on the African continent, including and in particular the youth, women, private sector and the civil society at large.[vii]

In terms of this decision of the African Heads of State and Government, national governments play a central role in the implementation of NEPAD. The NEPAD Secretariat identifies the critically important functions of national governments as:

  • Internalising NEPAD values and principles, with an emphasis on ownership of the development process and increased self-reliance;
  • Deepening engagement with the private sector and civil society with respect to NEPAD programmes;
  • Establishing NEPAD focal points to deepen ownership and the mainstreaming of NEPAD programmes nationally;
  • Accelerating the adoption of NEPAD programmes as frameworks and guidelines for national development plans, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, including reprioritising resources to ensure the implementation of NEPAD priorities and programmes;
  • Ensuring compliance with major AU and REC resolutions linked to the implementation of NEPAD programmes; and
  • Ensuring that the country takes advantage of international support mobilised for growth and development.

South Africa’s approach to implementation of NEPAD

Responding to this challenge, South Africa has, in collaboration with key African countries, been at the forefront in developing NEPAD as Africa’s premier development programme; in mobilising African and international support for NEPAD; and in supporting the NEPAD structures and processes.[viii] Three aspects to South Africa’s approach should be noted: 

  • Firstly, looking at the African continent as a whole, South Africa has been inclined to accelerate NEPAD to higher plane of action and implementation, maintaining both an internal and an external focus;
  •  Secondly, with specific reference to South Africa itself, the linkages to NEPAD had to be established at the national level to ensure that NEPAD is made relevant and has a positive impact on the quality of life of all South Africans; and
  • Thirdly, from a SADC point of view, a close interface had to be defined and maintained between NEPAD and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), considering the latter as the regional face of NEPAD.

Definition of a national NEPAD project

In looking at these three interlinked aspects of South Africa’s approach to NEPAD, a number of national consultative conferences were held in the process of defining and articulating South Africa’s approach to NEPAD. Participants were broad-based and included the Presidency and National Departments, Provincial and Local Government, Parliament, state-owned enterprises, civil society, labour and business. 

From our point of view, it was clear that the implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects must be based on broad participation and consultation, in order to engage as many stakeholders and delivery agents as possible, to create ownership for the outputs, and to internalise the principles upon which it is based.

An initial issue that we as South Africans grappled with was the definition of a NEPAD project. We were keen to characterise a NEPAD project differently to the government programmes we were seized with, these inherently being developmental in nature. To this end, we decided that a national NEPAD project should be defined as:

  • A flagship project that supports the NEPAD goals, principles and vision;
  • Focuses on development;
  • Impacts positively on people on the ground;
  • Has the potential to be expanded into a regional project (a criterion assisted by the fact that many provinces/local authorities border on other states);
  •  Must be formally accredited and presented as a NEPAD project to make it visible and relevant to South Africans;
  • Must be captured on a central database; and
  • Driven and monitored on an ongoing basis. 

By implication, a SADC RISDP project must be designed from the onset as a regional project, benefiting at least two SADC member states.

Identification of NEPAD intervention areas

Now that we had our own definition of a national NEPAD project, we could consider the key intervention areas in which we wanted to apply this. It was clear that we had to integrate four intervention levels into our planning and implementation of NEPAD programmes and projects, these being:

  • The national level;
  • The regional level, specifically SADC;
  • The continental level; and
  •  Our engagement with the international community.

National level

In terms of the first level, our main effort has been to situate NEPAD within the overall South African national development framework and strategy. This has been planned and managed mainly through the Cabinet Cluster Priorities, e.g.:

  • Fast-tracking implementation of NEPAD Priority Sectors (i.e. infrastructure, information communication technology, agriculture, tourism, capacity-building, etc) by the relevant line-function Departments;
  •  Implementation of the recommendations of South Africa’s Peer Review Report in terms of the South African Programme of Action (as coordinated by our APRM focal point, the Department of Public Service and Administration); and
  •  Pioneering the utilisation of the National Framework for Local Economic Development as a platform for the implementation of NEPAD programmes within South Africa.

A next stage in our implementation of NEPAD in South Africa will be the development of a national NEPAD project and activities database, as well as supporting the SADC and NEPAD Secretariats in developing project databases. In our thinking, we know that the database will:

  • Assist in the process of gathering and disseminating project portfolio information;
  • Matching investors to projects and assisting to track the outflows from South Africa;
  • Identifying the bottlenecks that impede the implementation of specific projects and adopting remedial actions to overcome the blockages; and
  • Promoting NEPAD Flagship projects within our National Outreach Programme.

In this respect, we are keen to hear from the other SADC countries participating in this SADC Stakeholders Engagement Workshop on their experiences in the establishment of such databases.

Regional level

Considering the second level, which is the SADC level, it was obvious to us that we needed to address development discrepancies that exist between the member states of SADC. To this end, we are seeking close alignment between the outward dimension of South Africa’s national development framework (e.g. our Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa, popularly known as ASGISA) and the inward implementation of SADC’s RISDP. As such, a principal focal area for us entails the regional implementation of NEPAD Priority Sectors.

However, we have also realised that the prerequisite for actual market integration is the availability of efficient cross-border infrastructure and services to allow for the free movement of persons, goods and services. NEPAD, as well as SADC’s RISDP, recognise the development of regional infrastructure as a critical element for sustaining regional economic development and trade. Only through the sharing of production, management and operations of infrastructure facilities, trade hubs as well as development corridors, will the Southern African region be able to enhance its competitiveness in the continental and global context. 

To this end, SADC needs to strengthen ties with NEPAD, other RECs and the private sector to optimally utilise infrastructure projects for trade gains. An obvious focus of this effort would be in the context of spatial development initiatives, such as development corridors, growth triangles, growth centres and transfrontier conservation and development areas. 

Continental level

The 2008 Addis Ababa Summit decision regarding the expeditious integration of NEPAD into the AU structures and processes provides a significant step forward, especially in terms of the continental ownership of NEPAD as well as the AU serving as an implementing agent in its own right.[ix] It should be recalled that the Maputo Summit in July 2003 took cognisance of the need for the formal integration of NEPAD into AU structures and processes and the need to sustain the momentum, genuine interest, support and solidarity created by NEPAD.[x] 

A critical aspect is the utilisation of continental development funds for NEPAD programmes and projects (including the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund, the African Development Fund; the African Infrastructure Consortium, the African Water Facility, the African Development Bank Project Preparation Facility and the Common African Agriculture Development Programme Support Group).

International level

It should be recalled that it was the intention of the Heads of State and Government that the international community, in particular Africa’s international development partners and the UN system should support NEPAD and to assist Africa in its implementation.[xi] 

A major success of NEPAD has been its positioning to form the core of Africa’s South-South and South-North relationships This has led to a host of international commitments in support of the implementation of NEPAD, e.g. the Millennium Declaration; the UN Declarations in support of NEPAD; the G-8 Africa Action Plan; the European Union Strategy for Africa; the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership; the Tokyo International Conference for African Development; and the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation. 

It is critical that these international commitments now be translated into concrete actions.

Conclusion

In light of the above, it is clear that the success of NEPAD and its impact on the lives of our people rests in our own hands.

It is only through the “domestication” of NEPAD in our national and regional development plans, and through our collective efforts, that we will be able to translate the vision and objectives of this African-owned process into a prosperous reality.

I therefore look forward to a productive and dynamic workshop and trust that the recommendations of this forum will take us a step closer in materialising the NEPAD vision.

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