The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is a relatively new initiative, designed by Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt. Our speaker Mr. Mehdi Hamam is the Senior Economic Affairs Officer from the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (OSAA). He held a comprehensive presentation on NEPAD, explaining how the UN supports this initiative, and he gave us a good overview of the challenges and problems that the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa faces in that field of work.
Our delegation, as we were representing the Kingdom of Morocco, knew from the briefing with Mr. El Merini from the Moroccan Embassy in Berlin that Morocco is quite suspicious about this issue but as it is affected by its impacts because of being a part of the region, NEPAD is still of special interest to Morocco. Starting with basic information about NEPAD, Mr. Hamam underlined the fact that NEPAD was a homegrown initiative which remained to be managed by Africans and contained social, political and economical aspects in order to support integrated and sustainable development in the region. NEPAD had been developed to meet Africa’s special challenges such as the high poverty level, underdevelopment, and the lack of integration into the world market. Thus, main objectives of NEPAD are the eradication of poverty, the sustainable strengthening of economic power and growth, the integration of Africa into the process of globalization and the improvement of the position of women in Africa.
According to Mr. Hamam, the main problem of African countries is the lack of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The attraction of Foreign Direct Investments is considered to be a main pillar of sustainable growth in emerging markets. Just 1% of the FDIs worldwide is invested in African countries and for now, some African countries do not participate in world markets at all. NEPAD aims at improving the situation by strengthening economic growth and supporting economic development in order to eliminate this marginalization. He emphasized that the success of NEPAD was based on effective conflict prevention, good governance and democracy. “No peace without development and no development without peace.”
Then Mr. Hamam focused on the support for NEPAD by the United Nations. In 2001, the United Nations declared that they were willing to support the African initiative and in 2002, the General Assembly adopted two resolutions, A/RES/57/2 and A/RES/57/7, which emphasized the importance of NEPAD in order to be the framework of all activities of the international community undertaken to support Africa’s development. Due to the review of the UN’s working methods and the development of a framework for coordination and collaboration, the support was intensified and became more effective. Cooperation and support take place on three levels:
- Country level
- Regional level
- Global level
On the country level coordination is managed by the United Nations Country Teams (UNCT). The efforts on the regional level are focused on the following priority areas: governance, peace and security, agriculture, trade, infrastructure, environment and science & technology. The support is based on a system of thematic clusters around the priority areas of NEPAD and on periodical regional consultations among the UN agencies working in Africa. The global level is directed by the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (OSAA), established in 2002 by resolution A/RES/57/300 of the General Assembly. The main tasks of the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa are to align activities, to strengthen the global advocacy, and to communicate activities to improve the knowledge of NEPAD. The support of coherence is a major task as it is essential for the efficiency of the support, because otherwise, the country that is supposed to benefit has to suffer the consequences. The Office of the Special Advisor on Africa also oversees the coordination of regional and subregional cooperation to ensure the implementation of NEPAD, as well as building and mobilizing human, institutional and financial capacities.
In order to support the institutional capacities, the OSAA facilitates trainings for an improvement of technical knowledge of the staff, assists in development codes and standards, and encourages African countries to implement economic, social and political reforms.
Mr. Hamam also mentioned some shortcomings that were associated with the activities in Africa. The lack of coordination remains a big problem. UN agencies in Africa are frequently failing to consult each other and he claimed better policy coherence.
Looking ahead, the United Nations still has to make active contributions towards mobilizing resources. Aid is provided but it does not meet the needs yet.