Thus, attempts to address the challenges of development in a continent with dynamic structural traps and varied causes of underdevelopment gave rise to the merger of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal sponsored OMEGA Plan, with the Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Programme (MAP). The synthesis of both plans gave rise to NEPAD as a single African Development Agenda, so as not to undermine credibility and integrity of Africa by having uncoordinated development plans. It was also to ensure consolidation of technical assistance and financial resources for the execution of the plan and maximum capacity utilization of available expertise of Africa. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (at that time called the New Africa Initiative, NAI) was adopted by the 37th OAU Summit in Lusaka, Zambia in July 2001 as a development Agenda and its governance structures were confirmed at the inaugural Summit of the HSGIC, in October 2001 at Abuja, Nigeria and subsequently endorsed by the Assembly of the African Union in Durban, South Africa, in 2002.
Experience has shown that Africa has never lacked initiatives that seek to tackle the challenges of development. For example, the continent is littered with many failed initiatives; from the 1984 Lagos Plan of Action to the 1991 Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community as well as numerous United Nations (UN) initiatives and those of the Bretton Woods Institutions of the 1980s. However, a variety of reasons can be advanced for such failures including lack of capacity, inadequate political will, greed and self-interests of external forces and lack of technical and financial resources. The major difference with the NEPAD Agenda is its endorsement by the international community and global financial institutions. For example, to underscore its importance and global acceptability, the international community, through the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/7 of 20th November 2002, also agreed to use NEPAD as a platform and template to engage African countries, individually and collectively.
NEPAD as an African development agenda, consists of three essential and inter-related elements; first a common and shared vision of the future based on African ideas and from its political leadership and its people; secondly, it is an African designed development agenda, with an accompanied strategy and sectoral priorities to translate the vision into reality and finally, a detailed programme of action to achieve the stated objectives and upon which interactions with the developed countries were to be based. With NEPAD, African leaders are seeking renewal of the continent and a new beginning and collective direction for the 21st century. The plan embodies both a message of hope and a new spirit of survival from the wedges of globalization. Put differently, NEPAD places emphasis on the need to ensure that the ownership, management and leadership of the Agenda is led by Africans; and that the partnership be based, in all aspects, on mutual benefits and accountability, shared responsibilities and clearly-defined obligations. At the same time, there is a keen sense of recognition of the present realities, including the diversity of the continent, the uneven and unequal nature of her development pace which have given rise to negative perceptions of Africa.
In order to deal with these issues, particularly the huge resource gap needed to finance the agenda, an hierarchy of priorities have been identified; including peace and security, good governance, human resources development, enhanced market access, diversification of production and exports and infrastructural development, especially ICT. Each step on the ladder has been elaborated upon in the NEPAD framework document. It also identified responsibilities which Africans must do on their own, especially in the areas of political and economic governance. Partnership is the fulcrum on which NEPAD rests. At the global level, partnership is conceived as one between Africa and the international community; in particular with international financial institutions, the UN System, the G8, the EU and donor agencies. These are institutions that have largely defined the pattern of interaction, and have historically defined the context and content of integration with globalizing forces. At the regional level, NEPAD seeks cooperation with and amongst regional institutions in the promotion of regional public goods and seeks to encourage cross-border joint ventures and expansion of markets among African countries with a view to promoting economic integration. Thus, Regional Economic Communities are viewed as the building blocks for growth and development.
Ambassador Olagunju is Special Adviser to the President on NEPAD/Head of NEPAD Nigeria