The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD): An Initial Commentary

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The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was born on October 23, 2001, in Abuja, Nigeria. The Implementation Committee of Heads of State, chaired by President Obasanjo of Nigeria, adopted the revised NEPAD document (October 2001 edition) as the original text “embodying the philosophy, priorities and implementation modalities of the Initiative.” The name of the initiative, hitherto called the New African Initiative (NAI) was changed to NEPAD. NEPAD will rapidly be given an institutional structure and resources, with a secretariat located in Pretoria, South Africa. According to the communiqué released after the inaugural meeting of the Implementation Committee, preparations are under way to develop specific programs and projects, and to develop proposals for a conference on financing NEPAD, to be held in Dakar, Senegal, in January 2002. This commentary attempts to advance the discussion on NEPAD by proposing a framework in which such regional initiatives might be assessed, with the twin guiding principles of (i) comparative advantage (ii) poverty reduction. That the NEPAD is a regional initiative, and that its objective is poverty reduction, is made abundantly clear in the opening line of the NEPAD document: “This new African 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.” It is hoped that the framework presented here will be useful as NEPAD is refined through debate and discussion, and through the lessons of implementation. The outline of the rest of this paper is as follows. Section 2 contains a rapid overview of the key elements of NEPAD to give a flavor of the nature of the initiative. Section 3 then presents an initial commentary, highlighting the main strengths of NEPAD and the challenges it faces in the way it has been conceptualized. Section 4 offers a framework for assessing NEPAD in terms of the twin guiding principles and their operation in four domains of policy—global, regional, national and local. Section 5 applies this framework in illustrative manner to some of the actions proposed under NEPAD. Section 6 concludes the commentary.

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WP 2002-01 January 2002


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Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University



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