Ping calls for faster integration of NEPAD into AU

Monday, February 2, 2009

Addis Ababa - The current global financial crisis has highlighted the need and urgency for the integration of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) into the African Union (AU).

The process to integrate NEPAD into the AU structures and processes will enable the continent to face its challenges with one strong voice.

Chairperson of the AU Commission ,Jean Ping, opened the 29th NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) meeting at the weekend, urging for this process to take place with urgency.

He said progress on integration had been slow until the 19th meeting of the committee held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, last June, which mandated the commission, to speed up the process. The commission was also tasked with compiling a report ahead of the 12th AU Heads of State and Government Summit which opened at the weekend.

Releasing this report, Dr Ping said: "I wish to report progress on the work being undertaken so far. Notable strides have been made to accelerate the integration of NEPAD into the AU structures.

"These include, amongst others, the recent signing of the host agreement with South Africa, which now accords the NEPAD secretariat and its successor entity the status of an AU office outside the headquarters."

The implementation of the host agreement by the joint technical team of the South African authorities, the AU Commission, the NEPAD secretariat, and the Development Bank of South Africa are also among the achievements thus far as part of NEPAD's integration process into the AU.

Dr Ping reported problems surrounding the study on the integration of NEPAD into the AU structures and processes. "I regret to inform you that work did not start on time as planned owing to some problems, particularly identifying sources of funding for the study," Mr Ping added.

However, the commission did eventually manage to secure the necessary funding, which enabled them to re-launch the tender.

The HSGIC Committee gathered to discuss mainly the integration of NEPAD into the African Union structures and processes and the appointment of a new Chief of Executive Officer to head the NEPAD secretariat and its successor entity.

NEPAD is a regional initiative advocating for more development programs for Africa in collaboration with African partners. A number of international communities are currently supporting this initiative, which is believed to bring more resources to the continent.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who is the current chair of the forum, said that the global financial crisis would have an impact in the integration process of NEPAD into the AU structure.

"The current global crisis highlights the fundamental need and urgency for the integration to be accelerated. This meeting therefore provides an opportunity for all of us to come together to enhance the integration of NEPAD into the AU."

He indicated that there was a need to revise NEPAD's strategy plans to tackle the problem, whose integration process is on the right track.

NEPAD aims to tackle issues such as peace and security, good economic, political and corporate governance, and to make the continent an attractive destination for foreign investment. Founded by South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Senegal among others, it is a project of the AU and has a steering committee of 15 African countries.

Regional integration is at the centre of NEPAD's ambitious infrastructure blueprint. It calls for investing in regional agriculture, power, water, transport and information and communications systems.

This is expected to foster intra-African trade, create economies of scale for investment and trade, reduce high transport and communications costs and enable the free movement of people and goods across Africa's many borders.