Mbeki, Obasanjo, Wade upbeat about NEPAD prospects

Tokyo- Japan (PANA) -- Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, all fronting for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), on Monday rejected claims that progress on the continental blueprint was slow.
"Of course, we would like to move faster but there are constraints to deal with and, moreover, the process is only two years old," Mbeki told a press conference at the 3rd Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) underway here.
  He recalled that it was in 2001 that African leaders adopted the decisions and orientations of NEPAD, arguing further that the initiative requires consulting with more than 50 countries before reaching conclusions.
  "Inasmuch as we would prefer a faster pace, this depends on everyone responding fast," he said.
  Mbeki noted, for instance, that at the Maputo African Union (AU) summit expectations had been that a Protocol establishing the African Peace and Security Council would be parcelled up, but as it turned out, the requisite number of signatories for its ratification was not attained.
  "Not necessarily out of objection, but simply because of the national legislative processes involved in the ratification of international instruments," he explained.
  Concerning drags on the Peer Review Mechanism, President Abdoulaye Wade observed that more irritating was the hesitance of certain countries to sign the Memorandum of Understanding that would bind them to the mechanism.
  "As non-signatories, we cannot probe them even as our donor partners prod us to deliver on commitments to good governance and democratisation," the outspoken Senegalese leader bemoaned.
Still, he said there were traces of positive change in some African countries by way of transparent elections, noting also that Libya was steadily shaking off the stigma of terrorism.
Earlier at a TICAD III plenary presentation, Implementation Committee chairman Olusegun Obasanjo assured delegates that NEPAD was into its implementation phase coupled with the strengthening and expansion of partnerships.
  He said a major outcome of the Maputo AU Summit was the decision to integrate NEPAD into the structures and processes of the African Union within a three-year time frame.
Obasanjo said this process was recently set in motion through a consultative mechanism between the NEPAD secretariat and the AU Commission.
"It is expected that the process will gain focus and substance with the entry into function of the new team that will be driving the Commission under the leadership of our brother Alpha Oumar Konare," he told conference delegates.
Concerning peace and security, Obasanjo said a great deal of effort had been put in conflict prevention and resolution "as can be seen in the cases of Liberia, Guinea Bissau and DR Congo where Africans have managed to ensure the prevalence of a peace agenda.
"  He further boasted that the NEPAD Secretariat and the AU Commission had made good progress in their interaction with the G8, the European Union and the UN in developing a plan for strengthening the capacity of peace support operations in Africa.
Asserting that NEPAD had equally made progress towards promoting the Governance Agenda, he cited the launching of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the appointment last March of an independent panel of eminent persons for the mechanism.
After its inaugural meeting last July, the APRM panel was now "in the process of preparing for the first reviews to be initiated hopefully within the next three months," Obasanjo said, adding that 16 African countries had already acceded to the mechanism while others were being encouraged to sign the Memorandum of Understanding to the mechanism.
He said the mechanism "represents a renewed commitment to good governance, transparency, accountability and an opportunity to share experiences" among African governments.
Obasanjo's progress report included the domain of infrastructure, in which he disclosed that NEPAD had in conjunction with the African Development Bank embarked on efforts to develop an Action plan focusing on critical areas such as energy, transport, water and information and communication technology.
   "It is being presented and submitted to the business community as well as to development partners for a possible engagement," he indicated.
  Concerning agriculture, he said NEPAD had in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation produced the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), where focus was now on its implementation "with emphasis on promoting food security and addressing extreme poverty.
" Other areas on which Obasanjo noted progress included environment and tourism projects, human-centred development, the civil society and private sector, and international partnerships.

29 سبتمبر 2003 13:58:00

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