The highly acclaimed New Partnership for African Development (Nepad) ,has been merged with the African Union although its Secretariat might not relocate from South Africa to AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Speaking to The New Times this week, Francis Gatare, President Paul Kagame’s Permanent Representative to Nepad Steering Committee, said Nepad would soon begin operating within the existing AU structures although technical issues were yet to be ironed out.
Gatare, who is also the Director General of Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (Riepa), said a decision was yet to be reached on such issues like human resources.
Established in 2002, Nepad was seen as a development initiative among African leaders to promote service delivery from governments to citizens and alleviate poverty.
The proposal to merge Nepad with the African Union comes amid allegations of power struggles between Presidents Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, and South African Thabo Mbeki which came to light during a recent Nepad consultative meeting ahead of the AU Heads of State summit in June.
The meeting was held in the Senegalese Capital Dakar and attended by several African leaders.
The meeting agreed to put forward its proposals- including suggestion to incorporate Nepad into AU, to the next AU Heads of State summit due in Cairo, Egypt, in June.
Rwanda is one of the countries that have been giving Nepad programmes much support, becoming the second country after Ghana to subject itself to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a voluntary self-assessment program devised to promote good governance.
High hopes had followed such initiatives under which African leaders agreed in principle to assess each other in terms of service delivery to their populations, good governance principles and respect for the rule of law.
But now reports suggest that disagreements between Presidents Mbeki and Wade have given risen to suggestions that Nepad be merged with AU. Both men were key architects of Nepad.
Gatare said Nepad had helped introduce new good practices on the continent which for long has been affected by corruption, unaccountability, wars and famine.
He however said that the planned merger did not mean that Nepad had failed in its programmes.
"Nepad was born at the same time the Organization of African Unity was being transformed into the African Union. It was created as a programme for African countries to take charge of their own development destiny. Both organizations (Nepad and AU) therefore grew simultaneously; the leaders have therefore decided to merge the two because they have the same principles," he said.
Gatare said Nepad will remain based in South Africa but have its structure incorporated within the AU system.
He continued that it had been successful in fulfilling the principles for which it was formed, even if the AU also existed as a parallel organisation.
"Nepad has given a sense responsibility to Africans to take care of their own problems instead of waiting for intervention from elsewhere. We have been able to create a growth and development structures for Africa. Nepad has also helped promote regional integration in communities in all regions on the African continent. In East Africa, there’s the East African Community, ECOWAS for West Africa and SADC for South Africa," said Gatare.
He added that Nepad had promoted regional and continental development projects in infrastructure such as linking the entire continent on the transport network and ICT.
The official also cited the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) which seeks to connect the African continent with the rest of the world. Also mentioned was the African marine cable, which seeks to link Africa on the broadband technology from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo, Africa’s most northern tip.
Among the reform suggestions by President Wade is changing the structure of the current AU organisation to hand more decision-making power to the heads of state, rather than technocrats as has been the case.