Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Africa reinvention = NEPAD = Government and business cooperation

NEPAD (www.nepad.org) is the African initiative for development which is an attempt to put Africa on the path of good governance and prosperity with a consolidation of peace, security and stability. It is especially an attempt to shift the ideology of a donor-recipient relationship to rather a partnership between nations to give and receive aid.

It realizes the need for policy reforms in order to establish sustainable development within all African states. It is an attempt to redefine the concept of development assistance, and it has a strong emphasis on partnership to be able to do this. Thus it seeks policy reform and enhanced investment within the following sectors: Agriculture; human development, particularly in health and education; developing a better infrastructure which incorporates transport, energy, and information technology; more diverse economies with regards to their export and production particularly with regards to mining, tourism and agro-industry; promote trade between African states and increase access to developed markets of the world. These aims and policy reforms are very similar and can be directly related to that of the Post Washington Consensus.

Throughout this brief background of NEPAD it can clearly be seen that the central policies outlined in NEPAD, namely constant macroeconomic policy and strength, greater openness of African economies to the world, and good governance, are at the heart of the Post Washington Consensus policy instruments. Similarly, these two mechanisms for development realizes that developing nations need stable financial guidelines, competitiveness, policies to assist in the transfer of technology, and transparency, to name a few aspects ignored by the Washington Consensus. Like the Post Washington Consensus, NEPAD understands that without government action there will be too little investment in the production and adoption of new technology.
Initiatives like NEPAD can be seen as a response to these reforms, trying to apply the Consensus reforms in a positive way. It is a reaction to the failures of the Washington Consensus, but it also takes some of the positive aspects and it attempts to promote greater integration of Africa into the international economy from which it has been marginalised. One of its main goals is increased international competition by, for instance, encouraging regional production chains and the development of the markets around Africa.

However, NEPAD faces some problems. In brief, the major difficulty they are facing at present is the fact that it is not very clear about the development path that needs to be obtained in order to reach the clearcut goals they have set forth. There is also the worry that NEPAD is taking on the same policies that have been in the running for 20 years which are linked to the Bretton Woods institutions, and in turn the Washington Consensus. And many critics argue that NEPAD is only there to answer the call of institutions like the World Bank (www.worldbank.org) and donors countries for Africa to implement policies that reflect those of the Washington Consensus.

Having mentioned the above however, one must also note that without the commitment on the part of both government and business on the continent towards issues of good governance, both politically and within the corporate sector these ideals will not see the light of day. Continuous engagement between the two parties on issues such as the foreign policy objectives of a country also becomes very important. Here, one refers to not only the political objectives but also government always being on the lookout for possible contracts on behalf of companies in their respective countries. Another matter that requires urgent attention and cooperation is on the infrastructural challenges facing the continent, an important component of Nepad. Expertise and experience from all over the continent needs to be harnessed in order to meet the ultimate objectives of the programme. Technological expertise needs to be shared amongst African countries and further regional integration needs also to take place.

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