par Ukoha UKIWO

Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS)


The literature on the democratization processes that spread through much of Africa from the early 1990s features critical commentaries which posit that though the principal cause of what has been referred to as ‘Africa’s Second Independence’ was the ferment among African peoples against decades of misrule, dictatorship, economic decline and social insecurity, the intervention of external forces in support of democratization was very critical in its resolution (Bratton and Van de Walle, 1992; Amuwo, 1992). References have been made, ad nauseam, to the historic Franco-African Summit in Le Baule where Francois Mitterand of France fired the salvo: No election, No Aid! Those who eavesdropped on President Andre Kolingba of Central African Republic have also told us how in response to the Summit, a frightened leader addressed his kitchen cabinet: "Those who lend us money for the development of our country have requested us to create several parties. We have to accept that (cited in Amuwo", 1992:23). Even in countries such as Nigeria where democratization was ‘home grown’ and predated the Franco-African Summit, the fact that the seemingly endless transition terminated after fierce external intervention was significant. Indeed, while the explanation that the excommunication of the regime which entailed that a sick Gen. Sani Abacha could not travel freely abroad for medical treatment contributed to the death of the dictator through cardiac arrest may be far-fetched, the instant death of Chief M.K.O Abiola after the visit of an American delegation which prevailed on him to forget the June 12 mandate is too close to be ignored – especially as the political logjam gained momentum after Abiola’s death.

A critical consequence of the external intervention in Africa’s democratization was the simultaneous alienation of popular groups and social movements that championed the democratic movements in the first place. Across the continent, the transition programmes were hijacked by civilianizing military dictators, recycled politicians and returnee Bretton Woods African employees. Ultimately, the outcome of the transition was less than was expected by African peoples. The perceptive Claude Ake described the phenomenon as ‘the democratization of disempowerment’, to wit: "The quality of democratization in Africa is in question. It would appear that the process of democratization in Africa is not a process of emancipation. On the contrary, it is legitimizing the disempowerment of the people of Africa, leaving them possibly worse off than before by concealing their disempowerment so that it no longer appears problematic" (Ake, 1995a:78). It is hardly surprising therefore that without exception, the new inheritance elite that superintend over post transition countries of Africa have unabashedly implemented structural adjustment programmes against the wishes of their peoples. Consequently, for Africa, it does appear that democracy has been ritualized and trivialized to begin and end with conduct of elections. It would seem that democracy does not also include empowering the people to make choices on how they want to be governed and to what ends. It is worthy to note that vigorous pursuit of the doctrines of Bretton Woods despite popular rejection contributed to loss of power by elected governments in Benin Republic, Zambia, Cape Verde and recently Senegal. However, the seeming belief among the dominant political class that it is not so much inappropriate policies as bad politics that was responsible for the misfortunes of their unfortunate colleagues has emboldened them to proceed with business as usual.

It is against this backdrop that the raison d’etre and modus operandi of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) can be appreciated. The advertised blueprint for African development was prepared by a clique of African leaders in consultation with technical advisers and donor agencies and presented to the industrialized countries for approval. It is presently being ‘down loaded’ on African peoples, the people whose survival NEPAD is supposed to be all about. This is a case, par excellence, of charity beginning abroad. The central argument of this paper is that

NEPAD having been formulated without the consent of African civil society lacks popular support across the continent. However, NEPAD has been warmly embraced by industrialized countries because it is a rehearsal of neo-liberalism. We shall conclude that like previous top-down policies NEPAD alienates the people from development, and is ipso-facto not a recipe for popular development.

To demonstrate the foregoing, we shall attempt a content analysis of the NEPAD document and discuss some of the reactions it has elicited within and outside Africa. The source of data shall therefore be principally secondary. Apart from the NEPAD document, there is a growing literature on NEPAD that would be reviewed. We shall also make extensive use of communiqués of civil society groups and results of opinion polls on NEPAD. In the sections that follow, we present the theoretical framework of the paper and give an overview of the objectives and origins of NEPAD. The final section would discuss the responses of Africans to NEPAD to show that the people are not even in a position to support the document because they hardly understand what it is all about. The rest are concluding statements on the implications of the lack of popular participation in the preparation of NEPAD.


A number of theoretical approaches have been adopted over the years to interpret Africa’s relations with Europe, the West and, since the eclipse of the Soviet bloc, the international community. Early works in the 1960s adopted the traditional functionalist behavioural approach. The traditional approach which was mainly descriptive focused on major foreign policy developments, issues, personalities, institutions and specific aspects of political developments – such as colonial experience, ideology and resource availability. The traditional approach was criticized for being merely descriptive and theoretically crude. In the main, it separated the sub-system from the totality of the system (Allen, 1976, Falola and Ihonvbere, 1988). In the 1970s, the world system perspective advanced by Immanuel Wallerstein became ascendant. This led to the blossoming of the structuralist school whose principal variant is the dependency approach. The approach conceptualizes a world system that is stratified with some countries at the core and others at the periphery. According to this perspective, the system is an exploitative one where core states benefit at the expense of the periphery states. All African states are located at the periphery and their foreign policies and external relations are tied to developments in the world system. Dependency approach also threw up other perspectives based on what should be or was the basis for global stratification. While Claude Ake (1978) opined that class was of the essence and indeed branded countries at the core as bourgeois and those at the periphery as proletariat, Ali Mazrui (1977) saw caste as the basis for stratification. Unlike those who felt that the global stratification could be determined by the relation of each country to the means of production, Mazrui argued that race, colour and language were the criteria for stratification. Thus, unlike the two-layer (labour-capital) stratification, preferred by the class-based dependency, there is multiple layers in the caste global system.

In whatever colour dependency was presented however, it attracted a barrage of criticisms. Proponents of the radical political economy school for instance argued that it is ahistorical and ignores the internal dimensions of external relations. A more coherent critique of the dependency school was however associated with the decolonization and complex interdependence schools.

In a seminal article on Africa relations with Europe, William Zartman (1982) criticized the static mode of dependency theory. He argued that there have been some progressive changes in Africa’s relations with Europe quite contrary to the proposition of dependency that political independence was a façade and that the metropole is still in control. "By arguing that things really have not changed since colonial times, it both denies past change and ignores the possibility of future change, in a world whose generally recognized nature is change par excellence. It is easy to see this static quality, for dependency is a mirror-image idea. It responds to the equally static racist caricature of the colonialist perspective, which held that the African nature was inherently incapable of civilization, by claiming that it is the westerner who is inherently incapable of allowing development, since it is not in his interest. Thus, dependency has a scapegoat function comforting the slow developer by showing him that the fault is not his but rather that of the outside forces of evil, which, more insidiously than ever, because of their very subtle mechanisms, are keeping him down" (Zartman 1982: 276).

Decolonization theory therefore advances an evolutionary view, showing the gradual nature of change in relations between Europe and Africa. Using EEC – ACP conventions, monetary alliances, defence alliances and cultural cooperation as examples, Zartman shows that there is progressive move towards self assertion. Decolonization theory thus resents the ‘precipitous withdrawal’ or delinking from the global system canvassed by dependency theory, citing the catastrophic example of Guinea. Gradual change allows African countries to build capacity to handle issues hitherto handled by departing colonizers, and provides ‘spaced occasions for renegotiating relations between new nations and former metropole’.

However, while the dynamic scenario presented by decolonization appears more realistic, it assumes and erroneously for that matter, that the evolution is always progressive and furthers independence of the post-colonial societies. Moreover, the decolonization perspective simplifies the world system, privileging relations between post-colonial states and former colonial masters. The world is indeed more complex and one of the emerging realities of global politics for the new nations is the diversification of relations, on the basis of reciprocity. This is the point of departure of the complex interdependence school, which in the main was a response to the realist theory of international politics but also tackles some of the assumptions of the class/caste struggle among nations painted by the dependency school. Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye (1989) advocates of this school assert that power and influence is diffused in the world system. No one country or set of countries possesses all indices of power, which it uses to oppress the powerless. Rather, nations, independent nations, relate with others to attain their objectives. The categorization of issues in international politics as High Politics and Low Politics is a straitjacket that does not reflect the complexity and dynamism of international relations. International relations are symbiotic and the world is one of a division of labour in which each part needs the other. It is therefore, not a conspiracy of some of against others. Keohane and Nye argue that there may be unequal relations especially in issues requiring high politics but on other soft issues, nations are interdependent. Complex interdependence is the intellectual precursor of the globalisation perspective (Lechner and Boli, 2000). Its claim to interdependence blurs the reality of dependency and unequal relations in global politics. Its attempt to downplay the importance of military strength in national power is certainly not helped by the fact that it is the case that the most powerful nations of the world in military terms are easily the most industrialized countries. Despite the interdependence of nations in the past 40 years some nations have remained marginal to the global political economy.

It is against this background that several African commentators to the globalization debate have largely tried to show that the continent is marginalized (Ake, 1995b). Wittingly or unwittingly, the dependency approach has been rejuvenated to show that Africa is located in the periphery of the global system. This perspective has been sharply criticized by Jean Bayart (2000) who argues that the best way to understand Africa’s relation with the world is within the context of ‘extraversive’ dependency. The extraversion paradigm rejects the marginalisation perspective of skeptics of globalization, arguing that Africa, quite contrary to the thinking of neo-Hegelians, have been part and parcel of the world system that has changed over time. Bayart posits that "Africans have been active agents in the mise en dependence of their societies, sometimes opposing it and at other times joining in it". Tracing the historicity of extraversion, Bayart shows that whether it was the slave trade, produce trade, formal colonialism, dependence and cultural ties, brain drain or international trafficking of women and narcotics, Africans have acted in their own interests as part of an organic world, of which Africa is part. It is this action of Africans in the world and not the structure of the world system as classical dependency would have us believe that matters.

All told, Africa relations with the world is underlined by the fact that African actors are outward looking and seek to extract valuable goods from it through a combination of formalities of action which Bayart lists as coercion, trickery, flight, mediation, appropriation and rejection. The extraversion paradigm is useful for our discussion of the tendency for Africa leaders to conceptualize development as an exogenous phenomenon, one that can only materialize with the support of the outside world. It is however, fraught with some problems. First, it is presented as if extraversion is unique to Africa state building and development and therefore falls into the trap of afro-pessimism. Even in Europe as Charles Tilly (1995) has ably shown the process of state building was violent and criminal. Secondly, it is easy to see, how extraversion by focusing on action underestimates or indeed overlooks the structure, which is the linchpin of dependency. While it is important to expose the actions and motivations of actors in the international system, it is also important to highlight the structural context of such actions. This notwithstanding, we adopt the extraversion paradigm because the importance of action is that it is not uniformly determined by the structure. Several countries operating within a similar structure take different actions. We shall show that NEPAD represents another ‘extraversive’ tendency of African elites who Franz Fanon described decades ago as "white men in black skins’.


Africa entered the twenty first century with great fears and uncertainties accentuated by the afro-pessimism of the 1990s. Among the political leadership and intelligentsia (Aremu, 2002:51), there was the real need to renew hope of African peoples. It was this that motivated President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to initiate the African Renaissance project to contribute "to the revitalization of values considered and valued as both genuinely African and human (in the sense of being civilized as opposed to derogatory heirs of primitiveness)" (Melber 2001:4) While the African Renaissance project succeeded in providing the platform to counter inferiority complex and dependency syndrome that was so prevalent in Africa and had become rather internalized, it failed to establish a political concept and instrumental strategy. The need to translate African Renaissance into policy concepts and programmes culminated in the introduction of the Millennium Africa Renaissance Programme (MAP). The MAP document emerged after the extraordinary meeting of the OAU in Sirte, Libya in 1999 that mandated the presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria to engage Africa’s creditors for total cancellation of Africa’s external debt. The presidents of Nigeria and Algeria supported the documents the South Africa president prepared and presented it to the World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos on January 28, 2001. Interestingly at the forum, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal also presented his ‘Omega Plan’ also aimed at economic recovery and development of Africa.

The Ninth Session of the Joint Conference of African Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Planning and Economic Development met from 8-10 May in Algeria at the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to discuss MAP and the Omega Plan. The meeting agreed that it was in Africa’s best interest to consolidate the two programmes rather than dissipate energy attempting to achieve the same goals through separate initiatives. Consequently, the plans were referred to a group of experts who held workshops in Abuja, Nigeria and Dakar, Senegal to refine and harmonize them in preparation for the OAU summit of July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia. On July 11, 2001 the summit of the OAU approved the New African Initiative, which was an amalgamation of the Millennium Partnership for Africa’s Recovery (MAP) and the Omega Plan. It also set up a ten-member Implementation Committee and a 15-member Steering Committee for NAI. It is against this background that the Heads of States of the Implementation Committee, meeting in Abuja on 23 October, 2001 finalised the policy framework and renamed it the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).

A - Objectives of NEPAD

NEPAD has been described as "a holistic, integrated sustainable development initiative for the economic and social revival of Africa involving a constructive partnership between Africa and the developed world" (Nkuhlu, 2002:1). In the introductory section, it is described as "a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction" that the task of eradicating poverty and engendering sustainable development is incumbent on them. Further, NEPAD is said to be "anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalizing world" (para 1). The rhetoric of the introduction is very radical. Among others it contrasts Africa’s stark poverty with the wealth of developed world and asserts that this and the "continued marginalisation of Africa from the globalisation process… and social exclusion of its peoples is a threat to global stability. It decries the debt trap in which the continent is mired as well as the phenomenon of decreasing aid since the 1970s. NEPAD puts Africa’s socio-economic morass in graphic details: "In Africa, 340 million people or half of the population live on less than US$1 per day. The mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 140 per 1000, and life expectancy at birth is only 54 years. Only 58 per cent of the population have access to safe water. The rate of illiteracy for people over 15 is 41 per cent. There are only 18 mainline telephones per 1000 people in Africa, compared with 146 for the world as a whole and 567 for high income countries" (para.4).

African leaders proceed to state the raison d’etre of NEPAD: "The initiative calls for the reversal of this abnormal situation by changing the relationship that underpins it. Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid nor for marginal concessions" (para.5). The basis for such outburst is the availability of the resources both material and human in abundance in Africa as well as the determination of Africans to take the bull by the horns.

In Section 2, the strengths of Africa is further expanded, viz: mineral, flora and fauna; ecological lung provided by the continent’s forest, palaeontological and archaeological evidence that Africa is the cradle of human evolution; and the richness of Africa’s cultural diversity. However, despite these resources, the continent has historically been impoverished by a combination of factors namely; the legacy of colonialism, the cold war, the nature of the international economic system and the poverty of development policies pursued by post-independence administration including the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). In spite of the constraints the continent has faced in the international economic system, NEPAD sees an opportunity for Africa in the global revolution: "What is needed is a commitment on the part of government, the private sector and other institutions of civil society, to the genuine integration of all nations into the global economy and body politic. This requires the recognition of global interdependence in respect of production and demand, the environmental base that sustains the planet, cross-boarder migration, a global financial architecture that rewards good socio-economic management, and global governance that recognizes partnerships among all peoples. We hold that it is within the capacity of the international community to create fair and just conditions in which Africa can participate effectively in the global economy and body politic" (para 41).

In Section 3, entitled: "The New Political Will of African Leaders", NEPAD identifies some new changes in the international system such as the ascendancy of democratic regimes, vibrancy of civil society, rising goodwill for African development, stronger intra-Africa regional organizations, etc. It is against the backdrop of these changes that the leaders pledge to strengthen mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution at regional and continental levels; promote and protect democracy and human rights…by developing clear standards of accountability, transparency and participative governance; restore and maintain macro-economic stability especially by developing appropriate standards and targets for fiscal and monetary policies and strengthening the concomitant institutional frameworks; etc.

African leaders in Section 4 of NEPAD outline the strategy for achieving sustainable development in the following structure:

a. Preconditions for development, which include peace, security, democracy, and political governance; economic and corporate governance with a focus on public finance management; and regional cooperation and integration.

b. Priority sectors which are infrastructure, information and communications technology, human development, with a focus on health and education and skills development, agriculture and promoting diversification of production and exports with a focus on market access for African exports to industrialized countries.

c. Mobilizing resources, namely increasing savings and capital inflows via further debt relief, increased ODA flows and private capital as well as better management of public revenue and expenditure.

The document discusses the above objectives and strategies and outlines actions that are required both on the African level and the international level.

In Section 6, NEPAD restates the potentials of the continent, which is the underlying basis for development. The document while decrying the problems associated with development assistance, calls for a new relationship that should "set out mutually agreed targets and standards for both donor and recipient". Pursuant to this, leaders set out the following as responsibilities and obligations of the developed countries and multilateral institutions. These include improving ODA flows to Africa, debt relief and enhancing access of Africa goods to markets of industrialized countries.

In Section 7, there is an outline of how the mechanism will be directed. This includes the need to have the initiating heads of state advise the OAU on an appropriate mechanism to implement NEPAD and the need for a technical support team to assist the heads of state in research and policy formulation. Finally there is a schedule of activities for the first six month, which include bodies to be set up or consulted in Africa and meetings that would be held with the world community.

It was at the first meeting of the implementation committee on October 23 in Abuja, Nigeria that the name New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) was adopted. The meeting set up an organogram for NEPAD made up of the Implementation Committee1, a Steering Committee2 and a Secretariat3.

B - Assessments of NEPAD: A Review of Literature

The literature on NEPAD has blossomed in the past one year. Broadly speaking, commentary on the new African initiative can be divided into two. On the one hand, are authors who are overly optimistic about NEPAD and see it as the road to salvation of the continent. For such commentators, what is needed to make NEPAD work is to dot a few "i’s" and cross some "t’s". On the other hand are those who feel the initiative is fundamentally flawed, unattainable and would also end up perpetuating Africa’s dependency.

Ravi Kanbur (2001) in one of the very first commentaries on NEPAD described it as an initiative that should ’be welcomed wholeheartedly’. This is because its overarching features, especially "its strong emphasis on democracy and governance", do indeed make it different from past attempts at fashioning Africa-wide initiatives for African development. While also noting that NEPAD shares some characteristics with past efforts such as its broad spread and generalization, Prof. Kanbur justifies such characteristics as being inevitable in a wide-ranging document. He therefore, devotes his article to developing a model for the assessment of the implementation of NEPAD. This model includes the need for comparative advantage, NEPAD should not be seen to duplicate efforts of other regional agencies and the initiative should prioritize poverty reduction.

This is also the approach adopted by Kempe Ronald Hope Sr. (2002) who describes NEPAD as "the most significant initiative ever advocated for moving the African continent from crisis to renewal in the past forty years," and "the one last opportunity to get the global economy to take Africa to seriously". Such characterization of NEPAD implies that the consequences of failure would be catastrophic. It is therefore necessary, according to Hope, for the challenges of NEPAD to be robustly confronted. Such challenges include strengthening capacity, monitoring performance and behaviour of organs and reducing poverty. It is the view of Hope that once these challenges are confronted the ‘home-grown’ initiative for African development would accomplish the objectives set by its initiators.

Writing from the same point of view, Akinrinade (2002) applauds African leaders for the initiative that is different from previous efforts because of the political commitment of the leaders, especially the peer review mechanism. He addresses such challenges as the persistence of conflicts and the non-consultation of civil society but notes that the peace and security initiative of NEPAD as well as response of the leaders in making amendments of NEPAD are ongoing efforts to overcome them.

Also optimistic about the potentials of NEPAD is Alex de Waal (2002) who focused on the governance issues raised in the NEPAD document. He also identifies weak capacity, lack of will to sanction offenders as in the case of Zimbabwe and need to democratize process as critical challenges that should be addressed to make NEPAD work. Another commentary by Chris Alden (2002) seeks to draw attention to action that should be taken to ensure that NEPAD does not remain "words without deeds", thereby preventing the historic opportunity from turning into an international jamboree. However, Alden unlike other commentators also outlines a number of actions to be taken by the industrialized countries. These include fulfilling promises for debt cancellation, opening up markets for African agricultural products and improving ODA. For Africa, the commitment for peer review should be honoured and civil society should be involved. This is also the submission of Richard Joseph (2002) who believes that Africa could witness a new wave of recovery and renewal as a result of NEPAD. Joseph however, discusses structural constraints, especially the fact that NEPAD seems to be more popular abroad than at home. At the core of his recommendation is the need to evolve a variety of leaner or "smart" partnerships alongside NEPAD. Such partnerships with people and institutions which are aimed at strengthening capacity that would ensure that the broad objective of NEPAD are translated from knowledge to action.

Critical commentaries on the other hand raise issues with the raison d’etre of the initiative. Ian Taylor and Philip Nel (2001) argue that NEPAD seeks to entrench Africa’s dependent position in the global political economy. This is why a new hearing is being given to the African leaders. According to Taylor and Nel, the message "fits the neo-liberal discourse". While acknowledging that NEPAD stresses commitment to good governance, they opine that the absence of a strategy to ensure that global power games do not undermine the noble goals of NEPAD is worrisome. Moreover, Taylor and Nel describe the role of the new transnational elite of Africa as that of a commission agent seeking to entrench Africa’s subservient relations with the West. The open embrace of NEPAD by the West as against their opposition of other African programmes is also intriguing to Adebayo Adedeji (2002). He shows how the development merchant system (DMS) sabotaged five African initiatives of the 1980s and 1990s, which were anchored on the imperative of promoting self-reliant development. He argues that NEPAD is fundamentally flawed because rather than proceed from the knowledge that Africa’s persistent failure to decolonise its political economy by confronting the past and making necessary changes for socio-economic and political transformation, it attempts again to make Africa "march towards its future hand-in-hand with its colonial mono-cultural, low productivity and excessively dependent and open economy". This option, Adedeji argues, will not assure Africa a dignified future. "NEPAD in seeking to draw more resources from the donor community and more direct supervision from various international institutions, particularly the World Bank and the IMF that have directed the development path of virtually all African countries since independence and more so since 1980s, must ensure that African people and their governments occupy the drivers seats of their development train. Indeed, in the Omega Plan, which together with the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme (MAP) constitutes NEPAD, it had been suggested that the management and administration of the African initiative should be entrusted to a board of directors comprising debtor and creditor representatives. This is worrisome. It will exacerbate neo-colonialism rather than advance the cause of economic decolonization. NEPAD should aim to let Africa loose from the noose of both multilateral and bilateral financial institutions rather than tighten it" (Adedeji, 2002: 8).

The positive response of the West to NEPAD is also the point of attraction to Ben Turok (2002a&b). In trying to explain the open support of Western leaders to NEPAD, he draws attention to the terms of the new partnership with Africa, especially, the fact that structural adjustment programmes will be intensified. He says that the principal basis for this change of mind is the increasing realization among industrialized nations that poverty in developing countries constitute "the ultimate systemic threat" to the world economy. Other factors include the ‘embarrassment of riches’ as a result of development reports published by development agencies, big power rivalry that has not died in the era of Pax Americana, overwhelming immigration into Europe and North America, persistent opposition to globalisation and the protest movements that canvass such oppositions. He argues that the support constitutes an attempt for the industrialized nations to reach out for legitimation: "It seems to be agreed that signals are required to show an acceptance that Africa needs saving. So the big powers and their institutions seem to be reaching out for a change of image to show that they care about poverty and inequality and are willing to make efforts to address some of the stark problems in Africa" (Turok, 2002:133).

This suspicion that NEPAD is the voice of Jacob but the hand of Esau also engages the attention of Dani Nabudere (2002) who provides relevant substantiation to the fact that NEPAD was developed after enormous consultations with the donor community. It was therefore, "panel-beaten" into a saleable document acceptable to the donor community. In this bid to please the donors, Nabudere also highlights a feature of NEPAD that seeks to divide and rule Africa. This is the principle of selective engagement. He argues that it will make non-compliant countries to be isolated and marginalized while compliant ones are rewarded. Clearly "the partnership was not to unite Africa to tackle its own problems, but to disorganise them on the basis of new western philanthropy-a new recolonization" (Nabudere, 2002:16). NEPAD is the noose that will be used to hang Africa. The fact that this is so, is seen in the response of most of the donor community to the Zimbabwean elections: "Whatever one may say or think about the elections in Zimbabwe, it is important that both Nigerian and South African observers to the elections had come to the conclusion that the election on the whole was free and fair. Whether that conclusion was correct or not is not the issue here. The fact of the matter was that although the two leaders constituted a majority of the three-man Commonwealth committee, they were made to accept the view of Australia and Britain to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth for a year. This showed how NEPAD was being used to achieve certain security objectives of the "partners" than of addressing poverty and conflict in Africa" (Nabudere, 2002:21).

The controversial Zimbabwean election has consequently been held as a sign post of the unworkability of NEPAD and the insincerity of African leaders. This is the subject of a commentary by Ian Taylor (Taylor, 2002). He shows that elite preservation is one of the key objectives of the advocates of NEPAD and when this interest is at stake, African leaders will prefer to trample on the principles of peer review, the most celebrated feature of NEPAD. According to Taylor (Taylor, 2002:406) " despite the rhetoric of the NEPAD, the ordinary African will lose out whilst the elites carry on with business as usual". This is also the view of Patrick Chabal (Chabal, 2002) who after taking a look at the character of politics in Africa, shows a persistence of neo-patrimonialism and disorder. He argues that democratization has been manipulated to give a new lease of life to dictators. NEPAD should therefore be understood as a populist measure of African leaders to appear to be in support of democracy and the market in order to guarantee transfer of resources to Africa: "a continuation with, rather than a break from, the type of relations that has guided the continents engagement with the international community since independence" (Chabal, 2002:462).

Against this backdrop therefore`, a number of scholars argue that there is nothing that is new about the NEPAD. This includes Suzanne Dansereau (Dansereau, 2002) who shows that fundamentally speaking, NEPAD is significantly similar to previous attempts of African leaders for a New International Economic Order (NIEO). She sees the only one crucial difference as the fact that, under NEPAD, the role of the state in development is slashed in line with the new thinking in Bretton Woods for a diminished state. But given the fact that even state controlled economies were aimed at strengthening the elite and not reducing dependency, Henning Melber (Melber, 2002b) describes NEPAD as old wine in new bottles. For him, NEPAD is a strategic response of African leaders to diminishing aid and investments to Africa. It is not about development and this is why it alienates the people who are supposed to be the agents and end of development. This alienation of the people and popular social movements in the processes that led to the establishment of NEPAD is rather than being an oversight, a design. According to Peter Bond (Bond, 2002) who has prepared an annotated critique of NEPAD, the NEPAD is a vindication of Fanon’s warning that the African governing elite would always seek to enhance its role as middle man by marginalizing the people, while embracing the colonial masters. We seek in the next section to show that this indeed is the case with NEPAD.


This section examines responses to NEPAD both within the continent and outside it. The target of responses is social groups, institutions and leaders of such institutions and organizations. Thus we shall rely on the communiqués, press statements or position papers of such groups as well as opinion polls that aggregate the position of cross sections of societies

A - African Responses to Nepad

The NEPAD has attracted responses from various social movements and civil society organizations in Africa despite the fact that it is not well known across the continent. The responses of these groups have largely been critical and that of outright rejection. For instance, African civil society groups who participated in a conference on the NEPAD organized by the Canadian International Development Admission (CIDA) in Montreal from 4th –5th May 2002 posited that though "well intentioned" NEPAD "suffers from serious flaws". According to the participants, two of the most fundamental flaws are that NEPAD privileges neo-liberal economic policies and the fact that "the programme did not sufficiently engage the diversity of African people in its conception and formulation and it remains largely unknown to most Africans" (Gosselin, 2002:2).

Interestingly as the conferees were making their positions another group had reached the same conclusions back in Africa the previous day. Civil Society Indaba had resolved on 4th May 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa that "NEPAD has been imposed on the continent by the few governments and elites, supported by the countries of the North and the Bretton Woods Institutions. Africa and her people have not been involved in devising this path of development" (cited In Bond, 2002:29).

The group, which is made up of delegates from various civil society formations in South Africa, also observed that: "NEPAD embraces the forces of neo-liberal globalisation, and promotes these forces as a cure for Africa’s ills". It frowned at the fact that NEPAD embraces the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and other institutions of neo-liberal globalisation that all "have a long history of plunder and exploitation of African’s resources and her peoples, as partners in African development". Indaba concluded that the development path adopted by NEPAD will push Africa and her people further into poverty, ill – health, hunger and marginalization.

A month earlier at Accra, Ghana, a Joint Conference on "Africa’s Development Challenges in the Millennium" organized by the Council for Development and Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar and Third World Network – Africa, Accra adopted a declaration on Africa’s development challenges on 26 April 2002. On NEPAD, the groups concluded that "While many of its stated goals may be well – intentioned, the development vision and economic measures that it canvasses for the realization of these goals are flawed. As a result, NEPAD will not contribute to addressing the developmental problems of Africa. On the contrary, it will reinforce the hostile external environment and the internal weaknesses that constitute the major obstacles to African’s development. Indeed, back from international goals that have been won through global mobilization and struggle" (cited in Bond, 2002:32).

CODESRIA and TWN-Africa further criticized NEPAD for reproducing central elements of the World Banks’ Can Africa claim the 21st Century? and the ECA’S Compact for African Recovery which include; inter alia, neo-liberal economic framework despite the disastrous effect of SAP on Africa.

These concerns have resonated in the position of trade unions across Africa. For instance, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decried the fact that "NEPAD was developed only through discussions between governments and business organizations, leaving the people far behind" (Bond, 2002:35). COSATU also expressed concern about the economic proposals of NEPAD and cautioned in particular against any macro-economic governance that strays too far towards stabilization. This position was earlier made by the African Trade Union Conference, which met in Dakar, Senegal on February 20, 2002. Representatives of workers and trade unions of Africa, after puncturing the neo-liberal underpinnings of NEPAD, its failure to place itself on extant structures, and its top-down approach to development noted: "While we accept the concept of, and the need for, partnership with African’s development partners, we believe NEPAD should have addressed the asymmetrical relationship that has existed between Africa and her partners since independence" (Bond, 2002:40). African workers therefore declared that "NEPAD should be regarded as a working platform that needs recrafting to avoid pitfalls of earlier programmes and ensure that the envisaged partnership is symmentrical and mutually beneficial. If should represent a paradigm shift in African’s relationship with her international development partners" (Bond, 2002: 40).

In another meeting in Dakar, Senegal, African labour leaders under the aegis of the Organization for African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU) raised critical issues with NEPAD. These include the feasibility of NEPAD in an environment of incessant conflicts and the complicity of several African governments in such conflicts such as the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo; the uncritical acceptance of the ideology of marketization and state withdrawal as well as the dissonance between NEPAD and existing pan-African initiatives on development (The Guardian, 8.8. 2002: 12).

Several African lobby groups have also expressed opposition to the NEPAD. In a press statement at the UN International Conference on Financing for Development which held in Monterrey, Mexico from 18 – 22 March 2002, a civil society group called the African Financing for Development Caucus noted inter alia; "Our first protest is against the marginalization of civil society from the process. We are convinced that without popular participation, NEPAD will suffer the same fate as other past initiatives … Secondly, we are concerned that our leaders are placing Africa’s development in the hands of speculators, the gamblers of the global casino and the Bretton Woods Institutions. The success of NEPAD is being made contingent on the generosity and charity of wealthy nations. This is dangerous and should be reversed. It is never too late" (cited in Bond, 2002: 37).

The Caucus had issued a communiqué during the 4th preparatory conference for African Financing for Development, which held in January 25, 2002 in which it noted with apprehension the prominence given to NEPAD by the financing for development process. It called for transparency and participation of all stakeholders and opposed any attempt to use NEPAD to deepen African’s external dependence and the exploitation of its resources. The World Forum for Alternatives and the Third World Forum, Dakar, which convened the African Social Forum in Bamako, Mali in February 2002, expressed similar reservations. The Forum feared that given the historical role of international financial institutions in ignoring African initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, "the help given to the New Partnership shows its neo-liberal orientation". The Forum whose slogan is that "Another Africa is Possible" submitted that NEPAD, which was elaborated by four African heads of state without consultation with their population and institution, is capable of giving international financial institutions and multinational corporations a new instrument to perpetrate their control over African economies and macro-economic policies.

At the G6 Billion People’s Summit convened by the International Society for Peace and Human Rights (ISPHR) to provide an alternative forum to G8 summit which met in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada from June 26 - 27, 2002, 1,200 civil society representatives saw "NEPAD as the zone of class war declared on African people because it is founded on the doctrine of debt servicing and good governance in exchange for foreign aid and investment" (Ogwo, 2002:39). The summit rejected the neo-liberal stance of NEPAD, its non - participatory adoption process, its conservative, historic and refusal to consider the reparation option and the fact that the document is neck deep in modernization waters with its catch up mentality. These positions were reflected in the position of the CASS Board of Economists on NEPAD. In a communiqué released after the Board’s meeting in October 2002, CASS said: "The goals of NEPAD are laudable However, a close examination indicates that NEPAD is predicated on the notion that foreign assistance is indispensable to national development. That presupposes that the forces of development are largely exogenous. Such notion negates the experiences of developed countries. There is no substitute for development forces that must come from within. NEPAD is a partnership of African leaders and the international community. The people are not carried along as revealed in several surveys of African countries" (CASS Newsletter, 2002).

One of such surveys is that conducted by Guardian Newspapers in Nigeria. According to the reputable paper, " it can be safety assumed that most Nigerians are not aware of the existence of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD)" (The Guardian, 4-9-2002:8). The survey polled 1,200 respondents from 24 states of the federation across the six geo-political zones. Out of this, 600 respondents, that is 50 percent answered "No" to the question "Have you heard about the existence of NEPAD?" 426 respondents (35.5 per cent) said they have heard about NEPAD. 169 respondents (14.1 percent) offered "No comment" as their response while the 5 (0.4 per cent) were invalid responses. The poll showed great regional disparities on awareness to NEPAD, with 61 per cent of respondents from North Central, 59.5 per cent from South - West, 46 per cent from North West, 45 per cent apiece from South -East and South - South and 43.5 per cent from North East claiming ignorance of NEPAD.

This high level of ignorance over the existence of NEPAD in Nigeria is worrisome. This is because President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is a foremost salesman and chair of the NEPAD Implementation Committee. This poor awareness is also worrisome because the profile of the respondents as shown in Tables 1 and 2 is indicative of the fact that they were predominantly literate, predominantly belonged to the professional cadre and should under normal circumstances be aware of such policies.

Table 1: Level of education attained by respondents

Level of Education

% of respondents

Bachelors degree


Professional Qualifications (ACA)




Masters’ degree

11.6 %

First school leaving certificate

4.0 %

Doctorate degree

2.8 %

Other specified degrees

4.4 %


Table 2: Occupational background of respondents


% of respondents

Civil servants

30.7 %


15.6 %


3.4 %

Military officers

2.9 %


4.6 %


3.8 %

House wives

2.5 %

Farmers / fishermen

1.1 %

Religious leaders

3.3 %

Casual workers

2.8 %

Other specified occupations

4.1 %


It could be safely concluded from the above that majority of Nigerians are not aware of NEPAD since the predominantly literate sampled population are not aware of NEPAD.

In response to a follow-up question "what chances do you think NEPAD has in bringing development to Africa?", 558 respondents ( 46.5 %) answered "None", 408 (34 %) answered "Little", while only a marginal 218 (18.2 %) answered "Great". There were 16 (1.3 %) invalid responses to the question.

The conclusion from the foregoing is that even among those who are aware of NEPAD, the initiative is unpopular and not trusted to lead African countries out of the woods of poverty, chronic indebtedness and incessant conflicts. The responses of Africans to NEPAD are generally not charitable. This opposition to NEPAD is not restricted to the ivory towers, civil society and grassroots organizations. Indeed, some African governments oppose the NEPAD. For instance, during the recently concluded United Nations World Summit for Sustainable Development, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and his Namibian counterpart, Sam Nujoma dismissed NEPAD as "a neo-colonial scheme" (ARB: 2002).

B - Extra-African Responses to Nepad

Western responses to NEPAD have been largely positive and warm. After the first official presentation of the plan to the G8, Summit in Genoa in 2001, the G8 announced the Genoa Plan for Africa which vowed to "support the consolidation of democracy, pluralism and electoral furriness" in Africa. The Action Plan of Genoa started with an agreement of the Heads of State that all countries should designate high-level personal representatives to work out a concrete plan, in liaison with committed African leaders, for the next G 8 Summit. Meanwhile across Europe, the plan was celebrated. A German minister welcomed the initiative as "groundbreaking" and indicated it would form "the benchmark for Germany’s policy on Africa" (Melber, 2002a: 201). Following a meeting of African leaders with the European Union (EU) on 10th October 2001 in Brussels, the EU expressed its support for the "New Political Will’ of African leaders (Melber, 2002a: 201). The British government has also openly supported the initiative. Tony Blair’s visit to four African countries in February 2002 was used to mobilize support for NEPAD. Gordon Brown, chancellor of the British Treasury promised that Britain would support "substantial assistance along the lines of the Marshall Plan to Africa"(Tembo, 2002:32). Tony Colman, a member of the British parliament was full of praises for NEPAD: "NEPAD is a comprehensive and promising strategy, but it is not a revolution in development policy. The most central difference is that it is African owned. It is not the result of ideas dreamed up in American or European policy institutes but of African experience and resolve. NEPAD has potential because it puts into action the idea of development by the people, for the people. The strategy is unified and brings together existing best practices. NEPAD could be the light at the end of the tunnel in which African countries have found themselves stranded for some decades" (Colman, 2002:9).

The position of the United States as encapsulated in the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) shares the NEPAD dream of providing the "reforming African countries with the most liberal access to the US market available to any country or region outside the North American free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)". Indeed, Robert Zoellick, US Trade Representative who visited Kenya and South Africa in February 2002 said "the need for increase trade and investment in sub-Saharan African is as stark as it is in any region in the world because this is the poorest region in the world and encompasses some 10 per cent of the world’s population" (Tembo, 2002:32).

One of the strongest supporters of greater development assistance to Africa is the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretein. He strongly supported the NEPAD initiative and was determined to use the G8 summit which he hosted in Kananaskis "to push through his agenda of stepping up international support for African development" (ARB, 2002). It is against this background of overwhelming support that the G 8 Summit’s response to NEPAD should be examined. Describing NEPAD as "a bold and clear-sighted vision of African’s development", the G8 said: "The NEPAD provides an historic opportunity to overcome obstacles to development. Our African Action Plan is the G8’s initial response, designed to encourage the imaginative effort that underlines the NEPAD and to lay a solid foundation for future cooperation" (G8 , 2002a:1).

While noting previous attempts to engender development in Africa, the G8 described NEPAD as an initiative that offers something different: "It is first and foremost, a pledge by African leaders to the people of Africa to consolidate democracy and sound economic management, and to promote peace, security and people- centred development" (G8 ,2002a). The Group 8 leaders said they are supporting the initiative because: "Half of Africa’s population lives on less than US$ 1 per day, and alone among the continents, African is becoming poorer and poverty is on the rise. Alone among the continents, the average life span in Africa is becoming shorter and is now 16 years less than in the next lowest region and has dropped 3 years in the last 10. The rate of illiteracy for persons over 15 is 41 per cent, and Africa is the only region where school enrollment is declining at all levels, and particularly among women and girls. While Africa accounts for 13 % of the world’s population, Africa’s exports accounts for less than 1.6 % of global trade, and that figure is falling. Africa currently attracts less than 1 % of global investment and is the only major region to see per capita investment and savings decline since 1970; indeed as much as 40% of Africa’s own savings are not invested within the continent. Total net Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa has fallen from previous levels of US$ 17 billion to US $ 12 billion today" (G8, 2002b:1).

Based on this and the fact that Africa’s leaders "emphasized good governance and human rights as necessary preconditions for Africa’s recovery", the G8 said it was "committed to establishing enhanced partnerships with countries that are committed to and implementing the NEPAD" (G8, 2002b:2). This would entail putting measures in place to find peace in Africa, to boost expertise and capacity to encourage trade and direct growth – oriented investment, and to provide more effective Official Development Assistance (ODA). The group listed its action plan in the areas of resource mobilization, peace and security, governance and human resources. For instance, under resource mobilization, the G8 promised to allocate at least 50 percent of G8 share of the $ US 12 billion per year in new resources to Africa. It also said it would use grants instead of loans for the poorest debt vulnerable countries and provide US $1 billion to meet the projected short fall in the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

It is apposite to note that the G8 support for NEPAD is predicated on the commitment of African leaders to promote democracy, good governance, human rights and open market economies. Thus more assistance to Africa is a quid pro quo for liberalization of markets and adoption of liberal democracy. This is why Western excitement over the letter and spirit of NEPAD is dampened by historical experiences of African leaders refusing to honour and respect agreements or protocols. Indeed, the few skeptical views on NEPAD in the developed world is hinged on the fear that African leaders will not honour their own commitments. As Melber (2002: 201) rightly observed:"There has been growing skepticism among members of the donor community that the request for massive additional financial support to implementing the initiative will come all too soon, while the political will indicated with regard to issues of governance will remain only a vague promise".

Unfortunately for African leaders reasons to doubt their new found political will came too soon. As the 2002 elections in Zimbabwe took place amidst protests by opposition groups of attempts by the ruling party to rig the elections, the expectation in the West especially after the government’s handling of the land issue was that the ‘new breed’ political leaders of Africa would condemn Robert Mugabe’s sit-tight antics. This was not to be as the leaders failed to condemn what many Western leaders felt was Robert Mugabe’s manipulation of the electoral process. Morgan Tsvangirai, the embattled Zimbabwean opposition leader who is deemed to have the support of several western governments pointedly expressed the disappointments of the international community that NEPAD would not stop dictatorship and abuse of human rights: "You know this is the saddest thing about Africa, all these flowering declarations and act without commitment. There’s no commitment because there is no holding to account…These declarations are not worth the paper they’re written on. Releasing such paper creates a feel good atmosphere and, when leaders are reminded of what they had signed, they retreat into the defense of the sovereignty of nations" (cited in Taylor, 2002. 405- 406).

This is exactly what African leaders did in response to Western queries to the Zimbabwe crisis. While Nigeria and South Africa acquiesced in the Commonwealth suspension of Zimbabwe to save the meeting at Kananaskis from collapsing, the South African deputy president warned the West not to take African leaders for granted and indeed accused the West of blackmail and conspiracy: "We need to vigorously challenge the doctrine of "collective punishment" that is emerging in relationship between Africa and the developed North. This is the doctrine that any significant project initiated by our continent, particularly NEPAD, will not be supported if a particular leader or country behaves in a manner that is unacceptable" (cited in Melber, 2002: 206).

Explaining the differential responses

We have shown above that while NEPAD got a cold reception in Africa, leaders of industrialized countries and the international financial institutions have generally lauded the initiative. Thus for NEPAD, it has been a case of charity beginning abroad. How do we explain the differential responses?

It has been shown in this paper that NEPAD was formulated through a process that ensured regular and profound consultation with the leadership and institutions of industrial countries. This has been acknowledged by both critical and liberal commentaries on NEPAD. It is our considered position that the intense consultations, which the originators had with western leaders and institutions explain the warm reception the initiative has received from the West. This is because in the process of such consultation NEPAD was adapted to suit the fancies of the West. In fact as the CODESRIA and TWN joint conference rightly pointed out the model of development and partnership sought by NEPAD were merely lifted from position papers of the World Bank and its sister organizations. Moreover, a liberal commentary confirms that: "The NEPAD focus on such productive partnerships with donors is also consistent with the views of internationally reputable and recognized commentators on African development problems. Indeed, some of those views seem to have had a significant influence on the framing of the NEPAD document" (Hope, 2002: 395).

Even the title of NEPAD was influenced by current thinking in the international donor community. In 1999, Jeffrey Sachs had in a seminal article called for "A New Partnership for Growth in Africa" in which he called for substantial rethinking of development assistance to Africa. It is instructive that the drafters of NEPAD merely supplanted Sach’s "Growth" with "Development" to get a title.

It is also apposite to recall the extensive consultations that the originators of NEPAD had with the developed world by quoting President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa in extenso: "During the year 2000, we spent sometime meeting the political leadership of the developed world- the North. Accordingly, in May we met Prime Minister Blair and President Bill Clinton in London and Washington D.C. respectively. We also met the then Governor George W. Bush in Austin, Texas. In June, we were part of the Berlin meeting on progressive governance… In the same month, we visited to participate in and addressed the meeting of Nordic Prime Ministers. Again in June, we addressed the meeting of the European Council held in Portugal, which was attended by all heads of government of the EU."

"In July, together with Presidents Obasanjo and Bouteflika, we met heads of state and governments of G7 in Tokyo and had the opportunity to hold bilateral discussions with the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori. While in Tokyo we also met the President of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn. Later, in Pretoria we also held discussions with the Managing Director of the IMF, Horst Kohter. In September, we addressed the UN Millennium Summit and had an opportunity to meet Presidents Putin of Russia, among others. Before this, we had also interacted with the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who committed the UN to operate with us as we worked on the MAP" (cited in Nabudere, 2002: 5-6).

Throughout all the briefings Africans, even African leaders were not informed. As Mbeki later said: "We intend to brief all African Heads of State over the next few months. Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible. Thereafter substantial consultations with the leader of the developed countries and multilateral institutions would take place… The implementation of the plan will commence as soon as briefings have been completed and commitments made by a critical number of African countries… Countries that are not ready will be welcome to join later" (cited in Nabudere, 2002:6-7).

The ignorance and antipathy of African peoples and some leaders to NEPAD is therefore understandable. Indeed as a Nigerian participant in a Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) organized conference on NEPAD aptly noted most Africans learnt about the initiative through western sources. In response to how he encountered NEPAD, Ngoyi, a human rights activist said: "Because we are used to hunting for policy documents, we stumbled upon NEPAD. We were not surprised not to have heard about it because we are used to the government not telling us what they are doing. We called our Canadian Partners who sent us NEPAD. With our limited means we made copies and called for a meeting of intellectuals and activists to discuss it. Only through our partnership with our brothers in Canada was this possible …Since our leaders have brought NEPAD here to you before bringing it to us, tell them we came here and we want real partnership, not just between leaders of Africa and the leaders of G8, but also between leaders and civil society in Africa." (cited in Gosselin, 2002:1-2).

It is evident from the foregoing that there is a feeling of alienation among civil society organizations to the processes that led to the adoption of NEPAD and that this alienation is critical to the cold reception and fears that NEPAD has generated across the continent.

Conclusion: Does popular participation matter?

This paper has shown that while industrialized countries of the world have embraced NEPAD, African social movements have generally disowned the document. What are the implications of this scenario for the success of NEPAD? It is important to raise this question because some commentators have argued that much ado is being made about the non-consultation. While African leaders have generally accepted that there was an error in not consulting Africans4, partly in response to neo-liberal revisionist views on development, which have embraced the necessity of popular participation as demonstrated, for instance, in the World Bank’s insistence that Country Poverty Reduction Strategic Papers should be prepared in consultation with civil society; some analysts believe that there was nothing wrong with the approach and that the present effort to sell NEPAD to Africans is enough and would not jeopardize its chances of turning the fortunes of African countries around. Luc Sindjourn’s position captures the defense: "You can’t ask for NEPAD or African Union what you did not ask for the Treaty of Rome (which founded the European Union). How many ordinary Germans or French have been associated with the Treaty of Rome or even know its details? But see what it has done for Europe" (cited in Ogola, 2002:12).

It is pertinent to note that such defense is common to all top-down development models and is indeed the rationalization for the devaluation of democracy (Ake, 2000). It is factually incorrect for it overlooks the fact that in several countries of Europe the EU was adopted only after referenda were conducted. In fact, it is increasingly being widely acknowledged that the bane of regional integration schemes in Africa is the lack of popular participation (Asante, 2002; Ojo, 2002). Moreover, the United Nations Development Programme has in several reports shown that top down approaches to poverty alleviation have rather than alleviate poverty led to poverty aggravation. This is because the non-participatory approaches promote social exclusion and alienation, which often make even the poor to sabotage the programmes because they suspect some ulterior motives on the part of government (UNDP, Nigeria, 1998). Since poverty reduction is a principal objective of NEPAD, the prospects of success could be limited by the non-participation of the people.

Moreover, African social movements especially labour unions who have kicked against liberalization and privatization which NEPAD promote stand to work against its actualization. It is not only social movements that are likely to work against NEPAD but also governments that were marginalized in the process of its preparation. For instance, President Muammar Gaddafi of Libya has also criticized NEPAD for its capitulation to neo-liberalism The Guardian, 8-8-2002:12). In the event that such leaders would not implement NEPAD, selective engagement of compliant countries by western donors under the principle of ‘enhanced partnerships’ enshrined in NEPAD would promote suspicion and rivalry among Africa countries and therefore work against African unity which is one of the advertised objectives of NEPAD. Clearly therefore while NEPAD may succeed in making few countries in Africa get more foreign aid it would not lead to the envisaged development. For it is not anchored on the principles and values that promote development such as popularity, self-reliance, empowerment and confidence and self-realization but rather on alienation (Ake, 1996:140-141). For development to be feasible, "the people have to be the agents, means and ends of development". NEPAD by depending on received neo-liberal model ignores the fact "Development cannot be received; it has to be experienced as participation in the process of bringing it about" (Ake, 1996:140). In this respect, NEPAD faces the same fate of previous development strategies that marginalized the people. For as Ake rightly posited: "If the people possess their development, the development process would not turn out to be an exercise in alienation, as has been the case in much of Africa. What is happening now is an attempt to develop against the people- a strategy characterzed by appropriating the people’s right to develop themselves…What is needed is to move away from the fixation on how Africa ought to be and to force-feed Africa into a state of being. Development must take the people not as they ought to be but as they are and try to find how the people can move forward by their own efforts, in accordance with their own values" (Ake, 1996: 141-142)

It is therefore very necessary that African peoples be allowed to reconstruct NEPAD in accordance with their values. It would not be enough for the leadership to just inform the people and expect them to comply with the NEPAD.


1 - The committee which has Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo as chairman, Algeria’s President A. Bouteflika and Senegal’s President A. Wade as Vice Chairmen meets once every four months.

2 - The steering committee is charged with the responsibility of developing a strategic plan for marketing with the aim of mobilizing domestic support and facilitating private sector and international partnership.

3 - Based in Pretoria, South Africa, the secretariat has a small staff.

4 - One reaction is to hold workshops to inform different groups of the objectives of NEPAD. Thus a workshop was held for African parliamentarians. See, Aderinwale ed. 2002.


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