- NEPAD and the Future of Economic Policy in Africa
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was introduced in 2001 by the African Union (AU) as the blueprint for Africa's economic growth and development. Calling for poverty reduction, global integration, and increased investment, it was to be the path out of destitution and [End Page 207] underdevelopment. As one author indicates, "NEPAD [is] a vision [of a]. . . socio-economic development framework for Africa to end the scourge of poverty, underdevelopment, instability and exclusion from the global economy" (131).
This edited collection of seventeen chapters represents an evaluation of NEPAD undertaken at a Dakar conference four years after its implementation. The book elicits great expectations—for a giant hullabaloo surrounded NEPAD. Some saw it as a sound program of advance with its many inducements to global integration, including good government, regional cooperation, enhanced trade, and improved production and infrastructure. However, its critics envisioned a quite different outcome: a vision of extending neoliberal policies, with increased inequality and poverty, and even greater global dependence—in short, further structural adjustment programs (SAPs), but with a new face.
What a shock then, to find that the book does not consider this controversy. Following a very brief introduction, the second chapter presents a sectoral financing model for a hypothetical country (not in Africa, but on the head of a pin!) complete with matrices, sigmas, and optimization; the reader is later treated to four more econometric chapters which require a background in mathematics. Fortunately there are also several chapters on the relation of NEPAD to human rights, decentralization, public sector reform in Nigeria, gender, city planning, and globalization. Then, curiously, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is the subject of two separate chapters—as are the themes of regional groupings and agriculture.
Policy is addressed directly or casually in these chapters. However, most ignore either the global context in which African countries operate or the fact that most African governments are far from "democratic" and "good"—most authors seem unaware of the political-economic realities of dependence. Most essays are thoughtful, but much of the territory covered is not novel, rhetoric is often unrelated to reality, and most analyses are only partial. There are pages of tables, variables, coefficients, and data which substantially add to the collection's length (by approximately 67 pages). However, not all the chapters are of this nature. The remarks on "peer review" are most enlightening, as is detail on the historical evolution of the NEPAD framework. The chapter on Nigeria addresses the role of internal government and internal corruption, while the chapter on gender makes the case for female empowerment. In my mind the best chapter is the one on city planning, highlighting the areal focus of NEPAD's concerns.
The collection fails to address several important issues: the concept of "good governance" and corrupt leadership, the alternatives to neoliberalism, why so few countries have APRMs, the fact that NEPAD has not even been discussed by most African countries or citizens, and the fallacy of the misspecified model. And where is the "Holy Alliance" of the IMF, WTO, and World Bank? Or, what of kleptocracy? Moreover, the exercise was diluted by a combination of poor data, few explicit programs of action, a very weak [End Page 208] editorial hand, and a brief time horizon of only four years. The weakness of the collection is confirmed by the concluding chapter of only one and a quarter pages!