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04.11.2005 General News

Parliament, Media have role in implementing NEPAD - Prof. Asante

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Accra, Nov.04, GNA - A Member of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Council of Governors, Professor Samuel Kinsley Botwe Asante has reminded the Media and the Legislature of their roles in the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Initiative.

He made the call at the Inaugural Lecture on NEPAD organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) under the theme: "Implementing the NEPAD - Challenges and Path to Progress." in Accra. Prof. Asante said, the success of NEPAD to achieve its goals could not be measured in terms of summits and conferences but in terms of actual implementation of approved policies, strategies and programmes, adding: "that it is only through vigorous implementation can the NEPAD process move forward."

He described NEPAD as a holistic, comprehensive and integrated strategic framework for the socio-economic development of Africa, conceived by African leaders, to break the vicious cycle of political instability, increasing poverty and underdevelopment.

Prof. Asante said the contribution of the media was imperative to the implementation process of both NEPAD and APRM in increasing the level of awareness to majority of the people about the merits and potentials of NEPAD to the country's economic and social development. "The media's role is crucial in ensuring factual reporting and informed analysis to keep public attention focused on important governance issues that may otherwise be swept under the carpet," he stressed.

Prof. Asante pointed out that the success of the implementation of NEPAD and APRM in Ghana would depend not only on the actions to be taken by the Government alone, but also on the extent to which the various segments of the Ghanaian society would be sensitised and made aware of the significance and main objectives of the programmes of these new initiatives.

In this regard, he said, it was the media when given the requisite enabling environment, should inculcate into all segments of the population, the "NEPAD Ideology" to stimulate response from the industrial, commercial, agricultural, trade unions, private sector and civil society.

Prof. Asante, who is also a Resident Scholar of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), said although NEPAD was recognized as a bold initiative, its survival hinged on the existence of democratic institutions of which Parliament was a major player and its role could not be overemphasized.

He stressed the need for measures by the Government to integrate NEPAD priorities into the national development process, because while Ghana accorded a high degree of importance to NEPAD, reports or conclusions of statutory NEPAD meetings were scarcely disseminated within the Ministry on NEPAD or shared with relevant ministries to have them reflected in development plans.

Prof. Asante expressed concern about the inability of the NEPAD Ministry as a coordinating and outreaching focal point to create a NEPAD desk in each relevant Ministry, as pertained in South Africa and some African countries, to ensure broad-based and technical integration of NEPAD priorities.

Prof. Asante said the promotion of accelerated and sustainable growth; development, poverty eradication and an end of Africa's marginalisation in globalization were the basic goals of the new development initiative.

He said to achieve these desired results, Parliament should exercise its role of setting up a special Parliamentary committee to constantly review the NEPAD agenda and make recommendations to the Government and the African Union.

Prof. Asante said the legislature must proceed with the consulting and mobilizing of public opinion by Parliamentarians in support of NEPAD objectives through public dialogue and other methods.

He said Parliament must, in addition; ensure that national budgets were devised in a way to integrate NEPAD goals into national programmes and debate on NEPAD through motions, questions and budget debates. Prof. Asante suggested that Parliament should not relent in encouraging the Executive to collaborate in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NEPAD programmes, as Parliament exercised its legislative and oversight roles and the commissioning of research groups to help Parliamentarians to upgrade their knowledge about the implementation of the NEPAD.

He said what should constantly be borne in mind throughout the entire process of implementation was that, while the G8, the United Nations and other external agencies and organizations had thrown their weight behind NEPAD, no amount of external support by itself could make NEPAD successful.

"Outsiders can do no more than to assist, to provide some lubricant for the mechanism of NEPAD implementation, the motive force must come from the continent," he stressed.

Prof. Asante said that motive force would be lacking power unless African leaders, professionals, community-based organizations, media practitioners, private sector and civil society groups, trade unions and women organizations showed sustained commitment and zeal towards the implementation of the NEPAD agenda; adding, "This constitute a historic challenge that confronts us, the sacred duty that we owe mother Africa." He however, noted that in spite of its minor setbacks, NEPAD had initiated comprehensive development programmes and NEPAD was championing increased investment in multi-country infrastructure projects that were critical to Africa's competitiveness and economic integration. Progress has also been made and some high priority projects identified in the NEPAD's Short-term Action Plan (STAP) by the African Development Bank (ADB) are underway.

These developments he said, included two projects: the West African Gas Pipeline and the West African Power Pool, which had attracted the attention of the sub-region; for the Gas Pipeline would supply clean and affordable energy from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and Ghana for the economic growth of the ECOWAS sub-region.

Prof. Asante said under the NEPAD-STAP, the AfDB was financing some projects, which were under construction: the Akatsi section and the Akatsi-Dzodze Neope road of the Tema-Aflao road rehabilitation projects, as well as the Mali-Burkina Faso-Ghana road project.

He cited the promotion of regional integration as well as contribution to the goal of poverty reduction, economic development and reduction in the travel time and vehicle operating cost as the principal objective of these projects; and also improve the accessibility of the land-locked countries to Ghana's port.

Prof. Asante said in addition, to these infrastructure, Ghana had also benefited from the implementation of other projects: the NEPAD Home-Grown School Feeding Programme; Ghana was one of the 10 countries selected by the NEPAD Secretariat to pilot the programme.

"Currently, some schools in Ghana have been selected as pilot projects. Ghana in July launched a top NEPAD priority on Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the NEPAD e-School project aimed at developing a sustainable knowledge-based society in Africa by bringing ICT skills to many primary and secondary schools," He added. Prof Asante said the effective implementation of both NEPAD and the APRM would not only enhance Ghana's ability to achieve objectives of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also those of the report of the UK-led Commission for Africa entitled "Our Common Interest" released in March this year.

He stressed the need to restructure the NEPAD Ministry to provide it with the necessary human, materiel, financial, and technical resources to enable it effectively coordinate the integration of NEPAD priorities into the development plans of Ghana.

"To strengthen the Ministry, it would be necessary to offer career incentives to public servants to attract them to serve in this all important strategic import multi-sectoral Ministry," He added.