Accra, Nov. 4, GNA- The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) would only succeed if it were integrated into national programmes and development frameworks, Prof. Samuel Kingsley Botchwey Asante, an expert on Regional Integration, said on Thursday. Delivering an inaugural lecture in Accra following his induction into the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Prof. Asante said the success of NEPAD to achieve its goals lay in actual and vigorous implementation of approved policies, strategies and programmes rather than the increasingly frequent summits and conferences. He said only implementation would make the difference between NEPAD and other development plans and initiatives on Africa that had failed. "Only through vigorous implementation can the NEPAD process move forward," he said.
Prof. Asante, who is also Council Member of the Ghana National African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), spoke on the theme: "Implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD): Challenges and the Path to Progress."
His lecture, which focused on building strong regional integration with an effective infrastructure base, comes barely five months after the Third Summit of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in Abuja last June.
Dr Francis Kwame Appiah, Executive Secretary of the Ghana National APRM Secretariat read the script on behalf of Prof. Asante, because of his recent throat surgery.
He objected to and described as untenable criticisms that NEPAD was a programme orchestrated by the West once more to enslave Africans.
Prof. Asante said NEPAD was an African-owned and designed document, developed and to be implemented by Africans, whose leaders had accepted that they had the primary responsibility to meet the challenges of poverty and deprivation confronting the Continent.
The role of international partners is to support the process and assist in scaling up and accelerating the implementation. Prof. Asante said NEPAD had strengthened the political will of African leaders to resolve conflicts and promote good governance as conditions for development. It has also initiated comprehensive development programmes since it was adopted four years ago. On infrastructure, he said the NEPAD was championing increased investment in multi-country infrastructure projects that were critical to Africa's competitive and economic integration in the face of globalisation.
He mentioned the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project aimed at supplying clean and affordable energy from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and Ghana for the economic growth of the ECOAWAS Sub-Region and announced that 500 million dollars had been committed to the Project, which started in December 2004 and from which the first gas deliveries were to be expected in December 2006.
He also mentioned the West African Power Pool project aimed at integrating national grids of La Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria and the three landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
Under the NEPAD Short Term Action Plan, the African Development Bank is financing the Akatsi-Aflao section and the Akatsi-Dzodz-Neope road of the Tema- Aflao Road Rehabilitation Project, as well as the Mali-Burkina Faso-Ghana road Project, all of which are under construction. These are with the view to promoting regional integration and contributing to poverty reduction and economic development by reducing travel time and vehicle operating cost.
Besides infrastructure, the NEPAD is also focusing and taking on a higher level the debate on other priority areas such as health and environment, multilateral trade negotiations, debt cancellation and Overseas Development Assistance reform.
Prof. Asante noted that by Ghana's establishment of the Ministry of Regional Co-operation and NEPAD, it would seem institutionally to be more advanced in building appropriate structures for the implementation of NEPAD than many other African countries.
However, Ghana's Regional Co-operation and NEPAD Ministry has shortcomings such as not tracking the implementation of specific NEPAD issues, analyse national statistics on NEPAD priorities and make recommendations for action for the various line Ministries.
The Ministry also does not disseminate reports of NEPAD meeting, and conclusions within the Ministry or share with relevant Ministries to have them reflected in development plans, neither does it act as a co-ordinating and outreach focal point to create a NEPAD desk in each relevant Ministry, as in the case of South Africa.
Prof. Asante said South Africa and Kenya had adopted the Ghana type Governing Council Peer Review Mechanism, but noted, however, that the implementation of both the APRM and the NEPAD initiatives were threatened with capacity in terms of human and effective institutions. These are further constrained by the brain drain of African professionals, the impact of HIV/AIDS, which is shortening life expectancy.
Other problems are delays in project approval cycles in partner institutions, limited grant resources for project preparation and severe technical capacity constraints at the national and regional levels. Most of the current national development programmes and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are not properly designed to enable countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Prof. Asante, therefore, called on African countries to integrate NEPAD's agriculture, health, education and skills development, water and sanitation, science and technology programmes into their national development plans.
The way forward for Ghana, as an agenda for action was to restructure the NEPAD Ministry and adequately resource it to co-ordinate the integration of NEPAD priorities into the development plans of Ghana, he said.
This would require career incentives to public servants to attract them to serve in the multi-sectoral NEPAD Ministry. He emphasised the role of Parliament, the media and other democratic institutions in the implementation of the NEPAD initiative, calling on Parliament to set up a special parliamentary committee on NEPAD to constantly review the NEPAD agenda and make recommendations to the Government and the African Union.
Prof. Asante, however, reminded African leaders to bear in mind that while the G8, UN, EU, World Bank and ADB had thrown their weight behind the NEPAD, no amount of external support itself could make NEPAD successful.
"The motive force must come from the Continent. That motive force will be lacking power unless African leaders, professionals, community based organisations, media practitioners, the private sector, civil society groups, (and other stakeholders) showed sustained commitment and zeal towards the implementation of the NEPAD agenda," Prof. Asante, who is also the Resident Scholar of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration said.