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Africa NEPAD Week held during 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

arton4369From 21 to 25 October, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) week was held at United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ). Several events were organized by the African Union’s Agency for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), in collaboration with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the Office of the UN Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

 

The programme of “Africa-NEPAD Week” consisted of five main events: 
• 21/10: High Level Panel Discussion (APRM Dialogue) 
• 22/10: NEPAD Lecture at Harvard University 
• 23/10: Briefing of UN Member States on NEPAD Implementation and APRM 10 Years 
• 24/10 High-Level Session, APRM@10: Perspective on Transformation Governance and the African Agenda 2063 – A dialogue with the Diaspora, NGOs, Women, Youth and Academia 
• 25/10: 68th UN General Assembly Debate on Africa

This year’s “Africa-NEPAD Week” was of particular importance as it coincided with the 50th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and ten years since the formation of the African Union.

NEPAD week began on 21 October with the High-Level Discussion on Africa’s Innovation in Governance through 10 years of the APRM. This dialogue was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who expressed his satisfaction for the achievements made by the APRM in trying to eradicate poverty and improve development in Africa. Mr. Ban pointed out that “what the APRM does for governance, NEPAD does for development. Together, they help Africa to advance along the path of democracy and development to benefit the continent’s people.”

The Secretary-General, after noting that the APRM has identified a number of areas where African countries need to improve, underlined the achievements made, such as constructive national dialogue that has opened up more space for citizens to participate in the decisions affecting them, and the partial reduction of poverty. Mr. Ban also expressed concerns on social issues, including youth unemployment, and on political issues such as the situation in the Central African Republic. “It is essential to restore law and order throughout the country, protect civilians and ensure a return to constitutional order,” he said, stressing that “International solidarity remains essential to addressing all of Africa’s challenges.”

The second meeting of NEPAD week was held at Harvard University, on the topic of “How Africa Will Renew the Concept of Leadership.” Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency and former Prime Minister of Niger, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, spoke with the Africa Caucus of students at the Kennedy School of Government. He focused in particular youth and unemployment - in Africa overall, youth unemployment has reached levels of 60%. Additionally, Dr. Mayaki noted that seven of the ten most unequal countries are in the African continent. This combination, with Africa the youngest continent in the world, could result into a dangerous social crisis, he warned. Dr. Mayaki also spoke about the economic exploitation of Africa where the value chain goes, at best, from exploration and mining to the mineral processing, smelting and refining, the steps of the process that contribute the least revenue, while the most valuable part of the process is done in industrialized countries. He then mentioned some positive developments of the past twenty years: more women in positions of power; Africa is the region of the six fastest growing economies; and achievements have been made in South-South and regional cooperation and integration.

On 23 October, the third meeting included a briefing of UN Member States on NEPAD Implementation and the 10-year anniversary of APRM and a discussion on “Promoting African Renaissance through Post-2015.” Maged Abdelaziz, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, provided a briefing on two reports of the Secretary-General: Progress in the Implementation of NEPAD, and the Causes of Conflict and the Promotion of Durable Peace and Sustainable Development in Africa.

Fatuma N. Ndangiza, Vice Chair of the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, explained the principles, the structure and the progress of the APRM. Ms. Ndangiza underlined the importance of NEPAD week in creating awareness of APRM’s work, and thereby help the APRM to reach its goals. She also noted that although “Africa’s economy has improved with high growth rates, the Africa MDG Report 2013 indicates that Africa will not achieve many of the MDGs.”

Dr. Mayaki’s intervention at this meeting focused on the acceleration of NEPAD for the transformation of Africa. Poverty levels in Africa are high, he illustrated: the absolute number of people living in poverty has grown steadily between 1981 and 2010, and 414 million people live in extreme poverty. Despite these statistics, Dr. Mayaki insisted that the opportunity to eradicate poverty has recently improved: “The international context is more conductive to greater ownership and leadership by Africa of its own development process.” Finally, Dr. Mayaki requested that donor countries honour ODA commitments, as an indispensable tool for African development.

The following day, dialogue was held on “APRM@10: Perspectives on Transformative Governance and the African Union Vision Agenda 2063.” This meeting, the most interactive of the week, included discussions with the diaspora, NGOs, women, youth, and academia. Mr. Abdelaziz, Special Adviser on Africa, gave opening remarks. The panellists - Ms. Ndangiza, Vice Chair, APRM Panel of Eminent Persons; Ashraf Rashed and Mustapha Mekideche, members of the APRM Panel of Eminent Persons, and Chernor A. Bah, Co-Coordinator for Youth Engagement, A World at School - illustrated that the APRM, in its 10 years of existence, has created a space for countries to learn from each other and share experiences and best practices, including through forms of engagement between States, civil society, and citizens. They also highlighted African Union Agenda 2063, a vision for the next 50 years of African Development.

Dr. Mekideche highlighted 10 major development challenges that Africa needs to achieve: generalize self-evaluation to the whole continent; look at cross-cutting problematic issues throughout all regions of Africa; deepen peer learning; ensure the National Action Plans are implemented by AU Member States; contribute to regional economic groups; increase strategic partnerships, including finance and expertise; create a higher profile for APRM; promote collective ownership of APRM by governments and civil society; promote political, economic and social institutional good governance; and place specific emphasis on corporate governance.

Mr. Bah focused his attention on the main issues of the continent and of the APRM. In particular, he pointed to under-represented groups within the APRM, including civil society. He asserted that though 70% of Africa’s population is under the age of 30, this group does not play a significant role within the APRM and the governments, and strongly advocated the inclusion of youth, on the merit of their achievements.

The panellists then engaged in a lively discussion with participants.

The last meeting of the week, on 25 October, was a day-long official meeting of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly. Some 30 speakers shared their views, with many delegates from African countries emphasizing national development gains and those from other regions highlighting partnership efforts with Africa, from building highways and pipelines to sowing investments in health and trade.

NEPAD CEO Dr. Mayaki illustrated that since its 2001 launch, NEPAD has made many advances in key areas including infrastructure, agriculture and health that had promoted stronger African ownership through creative and effective partnerships. “Overcoming obstacles should include partnerships that reflected and supported the continent’s ambitions,” Dr. Mayaki stated, on behalf of the African Union. “For Africa to truly become the next growth pole, the mobilization and effective utilization of our own resources is paramount,” he said.

The representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and the representative of Brunei Darussalam, on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasized the cooperation of their regional organizations with Africa. The representatives said their regions are looking forward to collaborating with NEPAD as the post-2015 development agenda is shaped. The representative of the European Union illustrated that European countries, with 45% of its external aid targeting Afruica in 2011, are the most important allies of the continent. Stating a widely held view, Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said the international community must remain resolute in its support to Africa’s development, particularly through the transfer of technology and resources. Finally, Sofia Borges (Timor-Leste), speaking on behalf of the President of the General Assembly, concluded, “NEPAD is a success story.” 

For more information on NEPAD, click here
For more information on the APRM, click here
For photos from Africa-NEPAD week, via Africa Renewal, click here.

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