In its bid to review the work of the New Partnership for Africa?s Development (NEPAD), since its establishment a decade ago, an expert group meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has extolled the achievements chalked by African governments through the initiative.

The review was prompted by the production of a landmark report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), on how the continental initiative has fared 10 years after its establishment.

Urging the group of experts from Africa who had gathered in the Ethiopian capital, Tuesday, August 14, 2012 to examine the UN report, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, Director of the Economic Development and NEPAD Division of ECA, told officials and experts working on the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa?s Development (NEPAD), that they owe the public clear explanations on what the initiative has achieved in the 10 years of its existence.

He added that the report and the Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the African Union that had been invigorated by the development of a comprehensive work programme to back its implementation, have combined to heighten demands from the public for concrete results.

Making these known in a press release, ECA?s Information and Communication Service (ICS) said when discussions commenced, the experts acknowledged that NEPAD had executed its assigned tasks rather creditably, although many challenges still lie in ambush.

The experts  also agreed that the greatest successes registered by NEPAD have been in the area of infrastructure development, agriculture and food security, the African biosafety network of experts, partnership for African fisheries and governance.

In the infrastructure sector, they observed that African Presidents are spearheading the construction of roads and railways, optic fibre networks and gas pipelines across the continent.

Another area with remarkable success is that of agriculture and food security, where the Comprehensive Agriculture Development Programme, CAADP set up by NEPAD is considered as one of its most successful, the experts said.

Apart from massive funding, African countries have benefited from increased bilateral commitment to agriculture; as well as private sector financing, thanks to the CAADP framework, they noted.

The experts also contended that another area of remarkable success has been in the building of regulatory capacity in biotechnology for enhancing food and nutritional security and socio-economic development of Africa with the putting in place of the NEPAD African Biosafety Network of Experts, (ABNE) in Burkina Faso on April 10, 2010.

There is also the Partnership for African Fisheries Programme (PAF), another NEPAD initiative, which has created working groups across Africa to address trade and market access, good governance and illegal fishing and aquaculture development. A 60-million US Dollar seed fund has been established in West, Central and Southern Africa as part of this programme, they disclosed.

Concerning governance, the experts highly commended launch of the African Peer Review Mechanism in 2003 by the African Union, which has to date been acceded to by 30 countries, 14 of which have been actually peer-reviewed, saying it is another important milestone for NEPAD.

In arriving at those deductions, the group examined issues such as what the main achievements of NEPAD are;  the challenges that continue to hamper the implementation of NEPAD; what can be done to better accelerate its implementation; how the capacity building programme could better support efforts to accelerate that implementation process; and the role  that Regional Coordination Mechanism of UN system support to AU and its NEPAD programme (RCM-Africa) can play in addressing the challenges to the implementation of NEPAD.

The discussions were preceded by Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie?s citing of events such as the NEPAD Colloquium and Congress held in March this year in Addis Ababa, and the Regional Dialogue on Enhanced Coordination towards NEPAD Implementation held last June in Durban, saying ?they have contributed immensely to improving our understanding of what needs to be done to overcome the bottlenecks to the implementation of NEPAD.?

He also recalled that the Declaration on ?Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation: Framework for the Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the AU? that was signed in November 2006 had been conceived as the UN overall platform for cooperation with the AU.

For his part, Mr. Maurice Forbinake, a veteran journalist and NEPAD champion from Cameroon, said ?The report and the ensuing discussions ?have been very useful in that they provide answers to some of the questions which keep coming up at country-level meetings on NEPAD.?

Thanks to NEPAD, African countries now have an improved platform for collaboration among themselves and with development partners, based on a shared vision of the continent?s development, he added, saying the body has played a critical role in developing common African positions in global events, with the recent being a forum on aid effectiveness in Busan, Korea and the Rio climate change conference.

The dark spots of NEPAD?s work in the past ten years were however summarised into structural, political and economic constraints, although the experts agreed that these constraints are not of a nature to negate the huge successes registered by NEPAD.

Participants in the meeting were drawn from NEPAD Country Offices, African Union Commission, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, Regional Economic Communities; the UN system, academic community as well as from the civil society.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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