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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Africa's media unimpressed with Nepad
Africa Media Watch
As African heads of state presented their vision of African development to the G8 summit in Canada, some newspapers criticise the West's failure to deliver while others point to Zimbabwe as undermining Africa's credibility.

Doubts are also expressed as to how representative the African leaders' initiative is for the continent's people.


African leaders' hopes have been sullied

Mail and Guardian

On Thursday, four African leaders - South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Algerian, Nigerian and Senegalese counterparts - sought to persuade the G8 leaders to provide funding for their New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) plan.

Their efforts were rewarded by a pledge to spend half of the G8's annual aid budget on Africa, in return for a commitment from African nations to improve their performance in the fields of democracy and human rights.

But this pledge falls some way short of the $64bn package hoped for, confirming media fears that President Mbeki and his colleagues were unlikely to achieve their aims in full.

"African leaders' hopes have been sullied in the mountains of Kananaskis," a commentary in South Africa's Mail and Guardian says.

It claims that there was little in the way of new aid in the new G8 Africa Action Plan.

"G8 leaders want to dictate the terms of Africa's development without a corresponding commitment in real terms."

Huge investment from G8 nations is needed to "deliver a better life for all Africa's people", it argues.

Fly in the ointment

But African leaders' call for investment in return for good governance was always going to be a long shot.


Countries like Zimbabwe are undermining the promising plan

Business Daily

In the days preceding the summit, the Zimbabwean government's treatment of the country's white farmers cast a shadow over Nepad's pledge to promote good governance.

"Zim blots sales pitch to G8", runs a headline in South Africa's The Citizen.

The paper warns that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's policies, including his order to almost 3,000 white farmers in Zimbabwe to stop working and begin leaving their land, would make Western leaders wary of Nepad's ability to deliver.

"Sceptics within the G8 will want to know how Mbeki can preach good governance while watching Zimbabwe degenerate under misgovernment on his doorstep," it says.

Peer pressure

An editorial in South Africa's The Star says Nepad will have to prove to the rest of the world that it is capable of implementing the "peer review mechanism" under which African leaders are supposed to monitor each other's adherence to democratic principles.

"Unless they can give it real credibility in the eyes of the world by dealing honestly and firmly with bad leaders, Nepad is doomed to join many other grand African development plans, in the litter bins of history," it says.

Mixed African reaction to G8 plan
Mixed African reaction to G8 plan

However, Zimbabwe's pro-government Sunday Mail is confident that the country will emerge from this monitoring process unscathed. "You cannot ask African countries to punish Zimbabwe. What has Zimbabwe done?" it quotes Information Minister Jonathan Moyo as saying.

Zimbabwean radio says there were mixed feelings in Zimbabwe over Nepad. "Critics of the plan noted Nepad's over-dependence on the good will of the West, a condition which could entrap Africa in neocolonialism."

They say Nepad ignores the role of South-South cooperation and African integration.

The radio quotes a local banker, Enoch Kamshinda, as saying the plan "is a bribery fund aimed at creating stooges and puppet leaders in the continent, to manage other African states on behalf of the West".

Power to the people?

There are some complaints that President Mbeki and his Algerian, Nigerian and Senegalese colleagues did not consult widely enough before drafting their plan.


Financial backing from the West can never be enough to ensure the success of Nepad

The Star

Algeria's Quotidien warns that Nepad is designed to serve the interests of the ruling classes rather than the African population as a whole.

And Kenya's East African identifies "the lack of a popular groundswell in Africa in support of the project" as a major cause for concern.

The paper cites a report by a Canadian non-governmental organisation, which says that Nepad "was written quickly, by a few African leaders, without the awareness of their publics".

The Star describes the project as "very elitist" and calls on its initiators to do more to promote their ideas at home as well as abroad.

"Financial backing from the West can never be enough to ensure the success of Nepad. It is the people who will translate the plan into a way of life," it says.

A commentator in Business Day is even more dismissive. It is generally accepted that Nepad is "top-down, non-consultative and so prone to neoliberal economic mistakes that it must be tossed out and a new programme started from scratch," he writes.

Not all gloom

On a more optimistic note, South Africa's Sunday Times feels that whatever the outcome of the Nepad talks at the G8 summit, President Mbeki's efforts are still of value for having put Africa "back on the world map".

He deserves some credit for convincing the rest of the world that Africa was "no longer the hopeless continent".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

28 Jun 02 | Business
28 Jun 02 | UK Politics
28 Jun 02 | Africa
27 Jun 02 | Business
27 Jun 02 | Business
27 Jun 02 | Business
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