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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 01:11 GMT
Nepad vows to take Africa forward
The BBC's Dan Isaacs
By Dan Isaacs
BBC correspondent in Nigeria

Aid workers
Nepad envisions contributions from both Africa and the West
African leaders have agreed on a framework for a peer-review mechanism aimed at tackling obstacles to growth and development on the continent.

It follows a meeting on Sunday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to discuss implementation of the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad).

Launched just over a year ago, Nepad aims to promote economic and governance improvements across the continent through African-led reforms.

Critics of the initiative have been impatient for clear signs of progress.

The Nepad plan is ambitious.

While we admit to the urgency of the challenge of development and poverty facing Africa, we have taken our time so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated
President Olusegun Obasanjo,
It recognises that many of Africa's problems are the result of poor leadership and aims to set up a mechanism by which leaders on the continent can scrutinise each others' performance.

The idea is not simply to blow the whistle on underachievers, but to identify problems and provide support.

'No teeth'

But those impatient with the pace of progress towards this goal will find little new in the document released after this weekend's meeting.

It talks of voluntary self-assessment, constructive peer dialogue and the sharing of common experiences.

Nothing in the wording of this document suggests any punitive sanctions or teeth for Nepad against wayward governments.

Donor nations who are being asked to provide billions of dollars in development assistance as part of the plan had been hoping for a mechanism with real clout, rather than just another talking shop.

Hosting the summit, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria countered those sceptics by saying that Nepad had moved beyond the level of mere rhetoric to the concrete and pragmatic stage of implementation.

But African leaders now need to put those words firmly into practice, or else the Nepad project will ultimately fade away like so many other pan-African development initiatives over the years.

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