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The Relationship of African Union and NEPAD

The Relationship of African Union and NEPAD


The establishment of the African Union is not an end in itself. It is rather a means to a desired end; the end being promotion of development and good governance in the African continent. Therefore, the African Union has to be substantiated with other programs that can help in achieving the desired end. The next part of the material,  briefly discusses the origin and mandates of NEPAD and its relation to the African Union.


Origin and Mandate of NEPAD


The origin of NEPAD could be traced back to the OAU Extraordinary summit held in Sirte, Libya in September 1999 where the then President Mbeki of South Africa and President Boutheflica of Algeria were mandated to engage Africa’s creditors on the total cancellation of Africa’s external debt. These being its inception, different African leaders kept on looking for a scheme whereby Africa’s marginalization from the world economy could be changed for the betterment of Africa.


On 11 July 2001, the Summit of Heads of States and Governments held in Lusaka, Zambia, formally approved the New African Initiative which was a merger of the Millennium Partnership for Africa’s Recovery Program and the Omega Plan. Then, the policy framework of the initiative was finalized by the Heads of States of the Implementation Committee in Abuja, Nigeria, on 23 October 2001. The Implementation Committee was composed of fifteen states, including Ethiopia and chaired by the then President Obsasanjo of Nigeria, vice-challed by President Wade of Senegal and Boutheflica of Algeria. It was the implementation committee that charged the name of the program from the New African Initiative to New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).


Coming back to its mandate, NEPAD is an integrated development plan that addresses key social, economic, and political priorities in a balanced and coherent way. One writer described it as a “holistic, comprehensive integrated strategy framework for the socio economic development of Africa.”


Eradication of poverty in Africa and placing African countries on a path of sustainable growth of development in their individual and collective capacities named as the primary objective of the NEPAD. Is main objective enabling Africa to be a competent actor in world economies by reducing Africa’s marginalization as a result of the new world order i.e., globalization.


Another notable characteristic of NEPAD is that it is firmly believed that aid based relations with the developed world can not be a sustainable solution to Africa’s problems. Rather, Africans have to be the real owners of the process involved therein whereas there is a genuine concern to retain its partnership with the rest of the world.


While highlighting on the essence of NEPAD, a formal document of the African Union  Terms of Reference for the study on the integration of NEPAD into the structures and processes of the African Union, state.


The NEPAD Program was established by African leaders as a socio economic program to extricate the continent out of poverty, under-development and regionalization within the world economy. Conscribes of past experiences of failed attempts at providing a new deal for the continent, African leaders developed a leadership structure that would keep them in the driving seat of the economic development of the continent, reshaping the relationship with the development partners and driving programs of economic development and poverty eradication.


As it can be inferred from the above quotation, NEPAD is basically aimed at securing socio economic development to Africa.

The following are the prominent expected outcomes of the NEPAD program:



NEPAD as Part of the African Union System


Having seen the general features of NEPAD, one may question whether the NEPAD program stands by itself or it is a part of the African Union system. NEPAD is are part of the African Union programs. That is why the African Union established a Coordination Unit on NEPAD. The Coordination Unit was mandated to assist in the gradual integration of NEPAD into the structures and processes of the African Union, as soon as possible.


Reaffirming NEPAD as part of the African Union system, the Executive Council of the African Union state that “through NEPAD, the African Union intends to give prominence and attention to various socio-economic problems that have marginalized Africa in the global polity through the promotion of regional and continental integration as well as international partnership.” Hence, NEPAD is unquestionably an African Union program and is directly accountable to the Union. That is why the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee submit an annual report to the African Union Summit.


As an African Union program, NEPAD has its own mandates, which in one way or another, substantiate the objectives and principles of the African Union. To harmonize NEPAD with the African Union program and to avoid duplication of tasks, the NEPAD coordinating Unit of the African Union has the following principal objectives:


  1. To facilitate the full integration of NEPAD into the African Union Commission, and the achievement of the overall objectives of NEPAD within the framework of the Commission’s program;.
  2. To support the NEPAD secretariat in the provision of technical service for the work of Heads of State Implementation Committee and NEPAD steering committee with the aim of becoming the Core Coordinating Secretariat of the NEPAD program in the near future; and

iii.        To serve as a laison between the commission, and the other agencies such as ADB( African Development Bank),ECA    (Economic commission  for Africa) RECs (Regional Economic Communities) and partnership in ensuring the attainment of the overall objectives of NEPAD, in particular,  the operationalization of the priority areas such as resource mobilization and infrastructural and other projects.


The relation between African Union and NEPAD has to be taken seriously as it demands commitment from African States. A Policy Seminar Report was organized by the Center for Conflict Resolution held in Cape Town, under the title:  “Building an African Union for the 21st Century Relations with Regional Economic Comminutes, NEPAD and Civil society”. This report mentioned three potential challenges that have to be tackled first before a successful integration between African Union and NEPAD.


The first critical challenge that both institutions must address towards a successful integration is that the commitment to democratic governance enshrined in the NEPAD document must be reinforced. Second, African leaders must promote and institutionalize deeper coordination and collaboration among themselves, Africa’s sub regional organizations and civil society actors. The third area of interest which is recommended as demanding due concern is Africa’s duty to address the financial and infrastructural weaknesses of its social, political and security institutions.

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