Appraising the implications of the New Economic Partnership for African Development: NEPAD

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Musveni Laments an Africa
Marginalized in World Affairs
II Current Political Context of NEPAD
III Realigsning Aspirations: Existential Politics over Rulership

 

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by Professor John Moyibi Amoda

Lagos State University, Director General of the Centre for Development
and Democratic Studies in Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Presented to the IPRA Global Political Economy Commission in the IPRA 19th Conference
at Kyune Dee University, in Suwon, South Korea, July 2002

Description: There has been, beginning, from 2001, a flurry of initiatives on matters of security, development and democracy in Africa. This new African initiative is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction. Thus, the African leaders have the pressing duty to eradicate poverty and place their countries, both as sovereign and collective, on a path of a sustainable growth and development. At the same time, the African leaders will participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The program is anchored on the determination of Africans to free themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a world of globalization.

I
Appraising the assumptions of NEPAD

There has been, beginning, from 2001, a flurry of initiatives on matters of security, development and democracy in Africa. Africa is literarily on the mind of all worldwide as seen in the following list of examples.

These are but few of the summit level initiatives punctuating the decisions of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government to transform the Organization of African Unity: OAU into the African Union: AU during their meeting in South Africa, July, 2002. In such conjuncture of initiatives, approaches of all concerned with Africa may differ, but the questions they are asking are largely the same as those defining the policy thrusts of Africa’s Summit Politics. African Heads of State and Governments have evolved the following consensus statement of Africa’s development and governance crises, challenges and dilemmas; thus, from The NEPAD Consensus and Manifesto, we quote:

This new African initiative is a pledge by African leaders, based on a common vision and a firm and shared conviction. Thus, the African leaders have the pressing duty to eradicate poverty and place their countries, both as sovereign and collective, on a path of a sustainable growth and development. At the same time, the African leaders will participate actively in the world economy and body politic. The program is anchored on the determination of Africans to free themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a world of globalization.

The poverty and regressed status of Africa stand in stark contrast to the prosperity of the developed world. The continued marginalized peoples of Africa from the globalization process and the social exclusion of the vast majority of its peoples constitute a serious threat to global stability. Since the 1970s and their accession to the institutions of the international community, the credit and binomial-aid has underlined the logic of African development. Credit has led to the debt deadlock, which, from installments to the reschedule it, still exists and hinders the growth of the reduction of private aid and the upper limit of public aid, which is contrary to the 1970s objectives.
Africa has the reality of these dire statistics to endure:

The initiative calls for the reversal of this abnormal situation by changing the relationship that underpins it. Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions. Excerpt from the introduction to the New Initiative now renamed the New Conception of Africa’s Development Crises:

We are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of underdevelopment that Afflicts Africa. The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty and underdevelopment exist in abundance and are within our grasp. What is required to mobilize these resources and to use them properly is bold and imaginative leadership that is genuinely committed to a sustained effort to uplift human through the eradication of poverty, as well as a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.

The global economy, which in its normal functioning generates the situation described as abnormal, that is to be changed. Are there alternate visions of economies that can account for the commitment to line of policy action proposed in NEPAD? If the economic lot of Africans is as described in the manifesto of NEPAD and the situation it describes is judged by the African leaders to be abnormal and dire, then a conflict of interests is postulated for

  1. those served by the global economy because this economy allocates wealth and income unacceptably and
  2. the disadvantaged, the demand is that the global economy be reordered to effect the reversal of this abnormal situation by changing the relationship that underpins it. Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions.”

Changing of the existing relationship underpinning the global economy thus is requisite to reverse this abnormal situation. The authors of the New African Initiative take this position; we re-caption the initiative as the New Partnership for African Development. Positions similar or differing, from that asserted above, have to be explained in terms of understanding the operations of existing economies. The politics of changing or securing one of these economies are the policy instruments that are to be assessed via the critical process and to be made relevant to affecting the postulated objectives.

African governments are the main actors, at present, in the regulation of the direction of economic activities in Africa. They have announced that the present moment is propitious for executing the African Initiative. Furthermore, the resources, including capital, technology and human skills required launching the global war on poverty and underdevelopment, as the governments assert—exist in abundance and are at our grasp. The African governments say—What we need to mobilize and use these resources with the best means possible is bold and imaginative leadership with genuine commitment to sustain the effort to uplift all humans via the eradication of poverty and to create a new global partnership based upon a shared responsibility and mutual interest.

This evaluation of opportunity is to be placed side by side with the reports on Africa’s present economic situation. In the Tuesday, September 18, 2001 edition of This Day, one of Nigeria’s daily newspapers, President Musveni’s account of Africa’s economic plight is, thus captioned:

Musveni laments an Africa marginalized in world affairs

Ugandan President, Yoweri Kaguta Musveni, yesterday, lamented the marginalized African global trade, saying that while world trade in agriculture was worth US $1.2 trillion, Africa’s share stood at a paltry $13 billion, representing 1% of the world total... Musveni stated “For the continent to make an impact on world trade and, thus, become competitive, an African Union needs to emerge to spur the continent’s development...” Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who stood in for President Olusegun Obasanjo, also expressed the optimism that Nigeria would achieve greatness when she invests in the development of her human resources. He lamented that Africa lagged behind in world trade, a development he blamed on lack of investment in human resources and industrialization, adding that while world tourism was valued at $444 billion, Africa’s share was only $541 million, which represents 12% of world total. Musveni said further that, “Automobiles worldwide are worth $1.3 trillion, Africa’s share is only $60 million: much less than America, Central Europe, the Baltic and the Middle East is about $171 billion, about 13% of world total.”

The litany above appears in the September 23, 2001 issue of another Nigerian newspaper, The Sunday Vanguard by President Obasanjo under the headline—Obasanjo Laments Poor International Trade Performance. President Olusegun Obasanjo has lamented the poor international trade performance of Africa, saying “Membership of the World Trade Organization: WTO by African countries has not benefited Africa.” Africa, he pointed out, was faced with imbalances in the rights and obligations of membership resulting from the failure of the major trading: nations to faithfully implement the development dimension of WTO agreements ' marginalized in the world economy. Excerpts from that story follow:

For now, Africa remains marginalized in the world economy. This is most visible in the continent’s performance in world trade. Africa continues to suffer from a significant deterioration in the terms of the disparity with other countries in our access to trade. Africa keeps facing restrictions in market access and tariff peaks in commodities of export interest to African countries.

According to Obasanjo, Africans should acquire skills and technologies with which they could conduct effective competition with the rest of the world. In his words:

Africa has no choice but to face the tremendous challenge by taking measures to liberalize our economies and open our markets to trade and investment in the hope of benefiting from the opportunities inherent in the ever increasing process of globalization. African countries that want to reshape their economies must emphasize the acquisition of critical skills and modern technology.

Also speaking, the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Mike Moore, said that there is a need for more mutually beneficial trade agreements between developing and developed countries. He urged developing countries to pursue policies that opened up the economies, saying that trade liberalization would yield greater relief for them than even all their foreign debts written off... The Minister of Commerce, engineer Mustafa Bello said, “The Conference will review Africa’s position with respect to major international economic developments with a view to ensuring Africa’s adequate developments while at the same time taking steps to minimized risks.” He revealed that following the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations; many developing countries realized that they had entered into commitments and agreements (whose) implications they did not fully appreciate. In addition, many others have also expressed concern that some of the new rules did not take into account the weaker position and circumstances of the developing countries in the new global economy. Thus, he expressed the need, for re-negotiations of the agreements in order to develop a world trading system, which would accommodate the overall development interests of developing countries.

The conclusion suggested by these comments of African Heads of State and Governments is that an asymmetry yet exists between the functioning of global markets and the expectations of these leaders. Then again, in their words, “We lament the imbalance and inequalities of the global markets” and suggest the existence of an international coalition of development partners capable of altering these imbalances and inequalities in favor of a currently marginalized Africa. The statistics quoted illustrate Africa’s continued marginalized state, suggest that Africa’s economic condition is worsening and that the structures of inequality have developed and produced in their normal functioning wider gulfs of economic disparity. Against that stark reality is contrasted the optimism of the authors of The New African Initiative. The reality of their optimism must now be assessed. Given the interest in policy relevance, African policy scientists must address the same facts and argue, for or against, the plausibility of positions advanced by African governments in their basic plans for redressing the imbalance through competition in the global markets.

African governments have named the issue as that of effecting changes in the structures of their economies, societies and polities. The New African Initiative, the Concept Paper on the Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Security Council Report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo are all the result of processes initiated by governments. Arguments both relevant and compelling must be proffered by those seeking to make inroads into arenas controlled by the civil services of African governments, if the expansion of participation in development and governance discourse to civil societal and academic organizations, is not a mere notion of co-optation, but instead the promotion of democracy.

The referents of these discourses remain efficacy of policies largely crafted by the international community and implemented under the auspices of African governments. The following from the business section of Vanguard Magazine, 09/21/2001 summarizes decades of development policies in the manufacturing sector. It shows the efforts at re-engineering Nigeria’s economy.

Throughout most of the post independence era, Nigeria pursued an industrialization strategy based upon import substitution. As the economy benefited from increased foreign earnings from petroleum exports in the early mid-1970s, industry and Government embarked upon ambitious projects … Private sector investment (PSI) in manufacturing grew too, taking advantage of an array of government incentives such as the—Pioneer Status and Approved Users Scheme. By the late 1970’s, a clear picture of the structure of the manufacturing sector had emerged. The sector was characterized by

Many more reasons could probably be adduced but in the early 1980’s as the country’s foreign exchange earnings declined significantly, the high import dependence of the manufacturing sector became a serious liability to the economy. Against the background of these problems and after several exhaustive studies, it became clear that a restructuring of the manufacturing sector was required. To cope with the problem of this sector and the economy in general, Nigeria embarked on a Structural Adjustment Program: SAP in July 1986. The major features of SAP included increased import liberalization and easier access to foreign exchange market (FEM), where foreign exchange rates for Naira are determined by interplay of market forces. SAP brought about government’s reappraisal of the regulatory environment, the structure of protection of incentive available. For the private sector and industrialists generally, it demanded a more serious effort of the manufacturing sector witnessed general deterioration from the early 1980’s. This followed the collapse of crude oil prices in the international markets, which led to shortage of foreign exchange that was needed for the procurement of raw materials and other. In the period, 1981 to 1986, the pre-SAP era of growth, manufacturing grew by an average of only 0.3% per annum, while the average manufacturing capacity utilization rate fell steadily from 73.3% in 1981 to 38.9% in 1986. In addition, the share of manufacturing output in GDP remained low, averaging about 8.5 percent. However, following the introduction of SAP in 1986, manufacturing output grew by an average of 13.6% during 1987-1992 the period. Correspondingly, the overall manufacturing capacity utilization (MCU) rate rose steadily from 38.9% in 1986 to 43.3% in 1990, before sliding to 39.4% in 1991. During this period, domestic resource based manufacturing firms such as beer and stout, cotton, textiles and cement performed well, while the import dependent ones, suffered production setbacks. However, the growth momentum in the sub-sector could not be sustained and, therefore, suffered reversals in the period 1992-95 as manufacturing production recorded an average decline of about 8. 0 %. Similarly, overall average manufacturing capacity utilization rate declined from 41.8% in 1992 to 29.3% in 1995. There were however, marginal improvements in 1996 and 1997, as manufacturing production grew at an average of 0.85% while inputs, as most industrial firms were import dependent.

Manufacturing share in total exports which was 0.3% in 1980 rose to 6.2% in 1986 and peaked at 13.3% in 1988. It averaged a mere 0.3% in the period 1988-99. This falls short of the result of a World Bank study (1989), which showed that manufacturing exports accounted for an average of 30% of total exports of developing countries. Available evidence indicates that some fundamental problems have continued to constrain the overall performance of the manufacturing sector. The recent performance report on the Nigerian economy published in the 2001 annual report of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria: MAN shows that the manufacturing sector and the entire non-oil sector has not experienced an appreciable growth rate. From the 1980s level the report read out by the former president of MAN Chief Rufus Giwa at the Association’s annual meeting in May this year also confirmed the widespread concern that the recovery of the domestic economy from the long and deep depression has been painfully show.

The excerpts from the above report by Samuel Udeala titled: Coast still unclear for the Manufacturing Sector at 41 years of Independence provide historical statistical details that can assist us in appreciating the prospects of NEPAD as a strategy for restructuring the postcolonial economic roles. This question, however, must be asked: Is Africa’s present condition of endemic disorder suitable for the proposed massive international campaign for a Marshall Plan throughout Africa?

II
Current political context of NEPAD

Against the background of the task of reconfiguring societies that have colonial structures through economic change, a project that assume order within which short, medium and long term, are the stark facts of the conflict endemic in state power in Africa. The Secretary General Report of the Panel of Experts on the — Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo — submitted April 12, 2001 by Kofi A. Annan, deals with effects of conflicts of state power in the DRC. The subject matter of the report shows that DRC-type state power conflicts make nonsense of economic planning assumptions. Resolving such conflicts is, thus, of basic relevance to jump-starting economic development plans and programs. In addition, for this reason, the proposed International Conference on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lake Region is of heuristic importance for conflict resolution praxes in Africa. The concept paper on the International Conference highlights the statecraft assumptions of the planners of this Conference. These paragraphs from the introduction of the concept paper enable us draw attention to these statecraft assumptions in the context of an Africa stalemated by state power conflicts.

1. The organization of an international conference on the Great Lakes Region has been a recurrent idea since, at least, the early 1990s and particularly since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The first concrete step towards the organization of the conference, however, was taken when UN Secretary-General Annan instructed his Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region to sound out the views of regional leaders regarding the proposal (S/1999/1296 of 30 December 1999) completed. That mission has been completed.

2. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1291 of 24 February 2000 and 1304 of 16 June 2000 both determined that the current security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) constituted a threat to international peace and security. The Security Council further affirmed, in both resolutions, the need for an international conference on peace, security, democracy and development in the Great Lakes Region to be organized at the appropriate time under the auspices of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity with the participation of all governments of the region and all others concerned.

3. The call for an international conference implies the recognition of three crucial issues regarding the situation in the region:

  1. the recognition that the current conflict in the DRC has regional dimensions
  2. the people of the Great Lakes Region are linked in terms of ethnicity, culture and linguistics that the instability at first generated by internal causes alone in each country soon spreads to generate and maintain the dynamic of conflict in the entire region and
  3. the need to seek, within a regional framework, solutions to the conflict and instability endemic to the constituent states. The call for an international conference on the Great Lakes as directed in UN Resolutions 1291 and 1304, thus, constitutes a significant progress in the appreciation of the region’s problems by the international community and a consolidated attempt to support the region to initiate a process for a peaceful resolution of the challenges raised by these three issues.”

Without prejudice to the substance of the concept paper, it is important to recognize a problem that can make the search for solution as protracted as the conflict addressed. It is critical to address the structure of Africa’s state power conflicts if the appropriate political environment is to be created. Africa’s current problem is the economic and colonial origins of its conflicts. Adama Gaye in the 3rd - 9th September 2001 issue of West Africa provides the sketch of the history of the state power conflict in Angola:

Image of diamonds and oil come to mind whenever one talks of an Angola, together with even more striking image of the bloody conflict that has impoverished that Central African nation. One lingering question persists: will Angola ever discover the virtues of peace and stability and enjoy the immense wealth God has endowed it with? In the past, such a hope has always faded, so one has to be cautious about seeing any ray of hope in the decision announced on August 23 by Angola’s President, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, not to seek a new term of office when a presidential election is organized - according to what he said - in the next two years. Dos Santos’ exit would definitely remove from the political scene one of the two characters in the never - ending conflict that has turned Angola into a war zone for almost forty years now.

It started when the country was under Portugal’s brutal colonial rule. Various liberation movements emerged in Angola, making it the only Portuguese colony in Africa where the colonial ruler was not confronted by a unified nationalist movement. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola: MPLA ( Portuguese acronym) conducted the liberation war. Leading the rebellion was the first President of Angola: Dr. Agostinho Neto: the Nion of Angolan People/National Front for the liberation of Angola (UPA/FNLA) set up in 1962 and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola: UNITA created in 1966 by Jonas Savimbi, now the rebel leader of the country. Ethnic rivalries, leadership conflicts and ideological divisions made it impossible to merge these forces in the battle to oust the colonial power. Not until 1975, long after colonial rule ended in other parts of Africa, did Portugal, in the wake of an internal revolution led by disgruntled former colonial military officers, withdraw from Angola and from its other African colonies: Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe and Mozambique. In the case of Angola, when independence was declared on November 11, 1975, the three political parties, or rather three political factions fought a bloody battle to take over the capital, Luanda. With the help of Cuba and Moscow, the MPLA prevailed.

What was a three-way battle became a war between MPLA and UNITA. That war has continued unabated. Portugal’s withdrawal from its colonies indeed revealed the state power issue of postcolonial Africa. It did so by highlighting what elsewhere in Africa was obscured by independence, namely: the post-independence intra-Angola sovereignty war. In non-Portuguese Africa, the united front against colonialism collapsed under the pressure of post-independence sovereignty rivalries between political parties. The Angolan situation is, thus, the logic of Africa’s postcolonial sovereignty wars fought for exclusive control of the colonial province redefined as the new postcolonial country.

The Angolan nationalist struggle was transformed into the postcolonial three-way sovereignty war; the MPLA and UNITA are still engaged in that war. The DRC is no different and Kabila’s victory over Mobutu links the nationalist struggle to the postcolonial sovereignty war amongst factions or rival nationalist parties. Africa’s postcolonial conflicts are, therefore, structural conflicts as they all involve whose sovereignty claims would prevail. The agenda of the proposed international conference focuses on consequences of post-colonial contestations over sovereignty. This is illustrated by the draft thematic agenda for the conference, reproduced below:

1. Peace and security in the form of

  1. a security architecture of the region
  2. protocols of non-aggression and modalities for implementation
  3. non-interference and respect for territorial integrity
  4. management of the issue of rebels
  5. co-operation on security matters
  6. disarmament, demobilization, socio-economic reentry of ex-combatants
  7. control of proliferation of small arms
  8. solving the human rights injustice of refugees and population movements in the region
  9. solving the question of nationality and
  10. solving the criminal practice of child soldiers and child slavery.

2. Democracy and good governance that will immediately insure:

3. Development, regional cooperation and integration that insure:

The problem with the above agenda is that its three themes cannot be implemented simultaneously; however, the concept of cannot here is a structural one and not logical. The sub-themes of democracy, good governance and development are dependent on the sub-theme of peace and security. Moreover, on a continent where state power politicians are all supposed sovereigns in war to eliminate rival claimants, peace is the peace securable and it entails either the supremacy of one claimant, or of a coalition of claimants and, thus, the defeat of rival claims; stalemate amongst claimants would entail federal (con-federal) power sharing. Thus, the reconciliation of the conflict of interests in sovereignty legitimates such a reconciliation, which has a potential institutional structure as security protocols and arrangements. The tests of this theory will be evident as attempts are made to implement this Great Lakes Thematic Agenda in Angola, Sudan, or Sierra Leone without the precedent conclusion of sovereignty negotiations. This agenda cannot, at present, be implemented under conditions prevailing in the DRC. Yet, much has been expended in the production of the agenda and much more would be through the conference process. Articulation of such constraints is vital to the successful pursuit of the much-needed peace.

III
Realigning aspirations: existential politics over rulership

The New Partnership for African Development assumes, as context, an Africa secured from its plagues of state power conflicts. The African current reality contradicts this assumption. Thus, even if Africa’s partners were to make resources available, African stakeholders under the present circumstances of sovereignty disputes may not be in a position to use these opportunities to advance the NEPAD objectives. It is in this respect that the following observation of Claude Ake drives home Africa’s crisis of order:

Although the ability of the new rulers to manage economic development was doubtful, as well as their inclination to do so, we on the outside have readily assumed that Africa’s ruling elites are bent on developing their countries. Our focus has been upon the feasibility, success, or failure of African development projects and, in particular, upon how to improve their effectiveness. Nevertheless, what is the country that is being developed? Who is doing this developing and why? Consider, for example, Nigeria, which is still a contested terrain of conflicting identities even after three decades of independence and an even longer period of being one political entity. Perhaps some of Nigeria’s elites think of themselves first as Nigerians and place their Nigerian identity above all other identities. Nevertheless, many more are ambivalent about what their primary identity should be. Even more place their Nigerian identity below that of their local community, nation, or ethnicity. In Nigeria, as in most African countries, the state remains the battleground where individuals fight for whatever power or resource they can capture. In the struggle, people may treat public office as a resource or appropriate public funds. Such behavior has led to comments about public corruption, lack of accountability and absence of public-spiritedness in Africa: judgments that miss the point.—Claude Ake, Development and Democracy in Africa. pp 69-70.

Africa has debt burdens that have slashed its bargaining power with its creditors. Africa proposes an agenda that unilaterally resolves its debt crises in ways that support its development, hurts the interests of its creditors and is, nevertheless, premised upon the assistance of the same creditors Thus, Africa must itself have embarked on a course of governance that bridges the elite-mass divide of its political economy.

Therefore we argue that the Economy Plan of NEPAD proposed by Africa requires a corollary Political Plan of NEPAD, which is an apposite statecraft politics that is:

In other words, Africa’s autonomy to set its own development agenda implies a corollary mobilization of popular support for its stability and security, a process that will remain frustrated unless a nation-building economy will be engineered within the present context of Africa’s dependent export led integration into the global economy. Two examples of the will-to-autonomy implication of the NEPAD politics are supplied by Malawi and Nigeria. President Bakili Muluzi rose to the challenge of the stipulation that human rights prevail before receiving official assistance with his credo: We would rather be poor looking up, than rich looking down.”—President Olusegun Obasanjo

Thus, the question is one of opposed agendas: the agenda of debt constrained and aid-dependent African governments versus the agenda of creditor governments. How are the differences in agenda to be negotiated in the context of Africa’s state creation politics and conflicts? What can level the playing field so that win-win negotiations can be instituted? So far, in the public utterances of governmental proponents of NEPAD, it is yet to be fully appreciated that the political plan that would make NEPAD feasible indeed implies a welfare-oriented political economy in which deliberate efforts must be made to bring the many poor into an economy now cultivated for elite, who are better endowed.

Privatization, liberalization and private sector led development will results in greater polarization of social classes and politicization of control of government. Because privatization is the decision of government, those excluded from the economy would seek sectarian control of government to reverse the policy. Privatization will be maintained only as the private sector itself sees its survival in the espousal of welfare-oriented capitalism. Nevertheless, the international community will resist such a development. The NEPAD experience may therefore push government and the private sector in the direction of economic nationalism and, thus, in a direction that would result in the breakdown of the partnership envisaged.

Keywords: African credit, African democracy, African development, African global trade, African governments, African Great Lakes region, African Initiative, African regional cooperation, African security, Angola, colonialism, conflict resolution, debt deadlock, Democratic Republic of the Congo, freedom, globalization, G-8, human rights, import substitution, international trade, liberalization, low levels of investment in manufacturing, marginalized African global trade, market-determined economy, Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Program, MPLA, NEPAD Economic Plan, NEPAD Political Plan, Nigeria, Organization of African Unity, peace and security, good governance, poverty, Portugal’s brutal colonial rule, privatization, Rwandan genocide, Senegal, Sierra Leone, structural adjustment, South Africa, Sudan, sustainable growth, UN Secretary-General Annan, UNITA, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1291 and 1304, welfare-oriented capitalism, WTO


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