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 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 12:24 GMT
Problems thwart Africa's big plan
Squatters shack near Johannesburg
Nepad aims to raise living conditions across Africa

This time last year, African leaders were unveiling a wide-ranging plan to Western governments.

Nepad - the New Partnership for African Development - was presented as an African solution to Africa's problems, and was initially given a warm reception by governments of the G8.

At its heart is the idea that Africa will improve standards of leadership, and in return the West will provide Africa with better terms of trade, more aid, and debt relief.

But Nepad's initial momentum has gone.

There are at least four reasons for this.

  • 1. When South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who has played a crucial role in Nepad's formation, and other African leaders went to last year's G8 summit in Canada, they didn't get the financial backing they had hoped for.

    This made Nepad harder to sell at the subsequent African Union summit, particularly to leaders, worried by the prospect of more interference in their domestic affairs.

  • 2. Zimbabwe is driving a wedge between Africa and the West.

    For the West, Zimbabwe is an obvious example of bad governance and Nepad's first big challenge.

    But African governments do not isolate President Robert Mugabe, they support him, in the face of, what they call, racist and disproportionate Western pressure.

  • 3. Late last year, the South African Government was involved in a confusing debate about what Nepad stands for.

    A minister said peer review, the mechanism by which African governments monitor each other, would concentrate on the economy, not governance.

    This sounded like Africa rowing back on commitments.

  • 4. Terrorism, and a possible war with Iraq, have absorbed Western attention and resources, and forced Africa back to the margins of world affairs.

    Last month, President Bush cancelled what would have been his first trip in office to Africa, so that he could concentrate on Iraq.

At the beginning of 2003, Nepad has a web-site, and the beginnings of a functioning secretariat, but its usefulness is still unproven.

See also:

16 Jan 03 | Business
16 Sep 02 | Business
05 Jun 02 | Business
25 Mar 02 | Business
06 Feb 02 | Business
19 Mar 02 | Business
08 Feb 02 | Africa
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