By Aziz Dieye
THE New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) appears as a break with the past as concerns the political strategies and the economic development objectives in Africa.
Break with the past in the sense that Africa is no longer begging and that for her the era of development aid and assistance is a bygone era. Break with the past because Nepad wants that henceforth Africa be perceived as a single and unique operational economic field.
One does not any longer think in terms of micro-markets but in terms of a coherent global entity and that is the great ambition.
One thinks as if the ills resulting from the colonisation, especially what is called the Balkanisation, are over forever in the mentalities, the ways of thinking, as well as in the practices since one envisions the possibility of a good governance code of conduct going beyond the models known so far in the world characterised by the harmonisation of the policies leaving to each member the possibility of defining the ideological content.
The examples of harmonisation existing in the world have been governed by means of directions and not by regulations, through common sectoral policies; but one has ignored the necessity of putting in place common moral rules.
A gleam of hope
Africa is no longer like a hunting ground or a playground where any shooter can come and easily earn profits exportable without regard to ethics and social responsibility.
Not being likened to the Sicilian underground economies or to the post perestroika policies and practices, it is obvious that the “blackguardism” has generally been the rule in the African economy and the social and moral responsibility the exceptions.
With the advent of Nepad, Africa chooses the priority areas, the preferable judicial and legal models, especially the option of inviting the investors to bring their contributions according to rules accepted in such sectors as the New Technologies of Information and Communication (NTIC), the agro-industry, the great infrastructures, education, health and good public and private governance.
There is no doubt as to the context of break. Nevertheless, a certain number of important questions are to be raised regarding the content and feasibility of the economic options.
It seems in fact that a certain number of prerequisites are not met yet.
* Are the Nepad selected sectors to be imposed when the new economic paradigm worldwide is “laisser faire – laisser passer”?
* What liberty is left to capital owners to choose between project A in lieu and place of project B?
* What are the guarantees offered to investors and what entity will offer these guarantees?
* Can the institutional instability co-exist with a conducive enabling environment?
* How to assure that the African economy will no longer be only a riches exportation economy? As a matter of fact, Africa exports much more than she imports riches. Practically all the profits are exported.
* How to harmonise the policies, the rules and laws governing the investments in all the continent?
For example, what solutions to the problem of volatility and diversity of the units of payment?
In order to respond to these questions, we have adopted the following methodological approach.
The Nepad actors
The point is how to do in order to get the different parties, the public together with the private actors as well as the foreign investors, have the same perception with respect to such important concepts as the economic flows, for example.
The partnership should really be conceived as a trustworthy offer of collaboration for the creation of wealth with the view to developing the continent. It shouldn’t be conceived any longer as an external vision to take or to live. On that score, should the African governments only present themselves as guarantors?
Nepad’s partners and roles
The partnership actors should be identified as being – the governments, African and international private actors, international funding agencies, and the regional and community institutions.
Each of these actors has to play a special role.
In respect of these actors, it is advisable to set out precise rules determining the public actors, the private actors, the roles and responsibilities for each partner, their credibility, ie the respect of the commitments made, the establishment of trust and the existence of adequate means or resources. It takes therefore a genuine willingness.
It will be proper to adopt a common definition of the rules of the game: who does what, when to do it, and how to do it?
It will be important to keep a follow-up and implementation schedule showing the list of the projects.
The governments, now turned out of the economic field by the international financial institutions, should not make a comeback as intruders or trespassers by the intermediary of Nepad.
Nepad will not function without a real political will. The economy should be in the hands of the private sector.
Government should put in place policies of inducements and incentives harmonised throughout the continent.
The visibility of Nepad is necessary.
A good coordination system will be necessary for the projects as well as an optimal allocation of the resources.
A high level task force should be put in place as well as surveillance and monitoring mechanisms especially in terms of credibility, discipline, constant controls over the application of the rules of discipline.
As for the financing problem, a solution could be found with the involvement of the regional communities institutions, endowed with financial means and resources through a system of community levies, which could constitute the basic contributions to the funds needed.
The projects should be consortialised so that they generate enough resources for refinancing purposes. That will prevent or reduce the African dependency.
It is essential to ponder over the urgent necessity of a monetary harmonisation in order to resolve the volatility and monetary dispersion now being experienced.
-Aziz Dieye is part of the Nepad business group team based in South Africa.