Friday, October 11, 2013

NEPAD: Africa needs ‘informed citizens’

Ochieng’ Ogodo


[NAIROBI] Well informed citizens of Africa will bring about positive developmental transformations needed in the continent. The media has, therefore, been urged to partner with development institutions such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to help achieve that.
Speaking to media managers at a breakfast meeting in Johannesburg today, the Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, Ibrahim Mayaki, said it was important for development issues to be well articulated and understood, so that Africa’s citizens can take part and support processes that leads to the development of their societies.
Mayaki, who is the former Prime Minister of Niger, says that NEPAD has achieved great strides in the implementation of its various projects, but there is now a need for Africa to tap into its own resources to finance its development goals.
He adds that that there is need for stronger collaboration between the public and private sector.
The event was attended by senior editors among them Essop Pahad, editor of The Thinker Publication and a former Minister in President Thabo Mbeki’s Administration and others from local and international media.
The NEPAD CEO cautions that despite six of the ten fastest growing economies being in Africa, seven out of ten of the most unequal economies are also in Africa.
“If we want to address social inequalities and create wealth for Africa, the issue we need to look at is Governance. The way we govern has to reflect the realistic needs of our people, many youth, who make up a vast percentage of Africa’s population,” says Mayaki.
He cites Tunisia saying that despite high literacy levels, infrastructure development and agricultural-led growth, youth unemployment was one of the main triggers of the Arab revolution.
"We need to make sure that governance is no longer a top-down process. We need to re-think governance, bearing in mind that Africa has the most youthful population in the world.  Africa cannot be managed like Europe, where the average age is 49, in Africa it is 19,” he says.
“African leaders are obliged to tackle the issue of illicit money flows out of the Continent,” he says. This would cost the continent US$40 billion every year and help reduce Africa’s dependency on aid, which currently stands at US$20 billion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) annually.
Responding to media on what NEPAD is doing to create youth employment, attract private sector investment and accelerate sustainable economic growth on the continent; Mayaki said that, “As the African Union’s technical body, NEPAD’s role is to be a vehicle that will boost regional integration through continental programmes such as the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).”
He also notes that the upcoming Dakar Financing Summit in December, which NEPAD is co-hosting with the Government of Senegal, will bring together Africa’s most influential leaders from government, industry and finance to accelerate investment into infrastructure.