David Saunders

Africa Overview

Morocco as a Tourism Investment

Nepad Challenge

Investing in Africa


African American
Tourism Market

of Tourism to Ethiopia
Bunce Island


US President
African Visit


 By David J. Saunders


The Africa conceived and led New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is an ambitious attempt by African leaders to "jumpstart" economic growth and development on the continent. NEPAD is currently being touted as a "holistic, comprehensive integrated strategic framework for the socio-economic development of Africa". NEPAD does, in my opinion, provide a "sound vision for Africa through its recognition of the unique challenges facing the continent and offers a realistic plan of action to resolve these serious challenges".

The goals of NEPAD include: (a) promoting accelerated growth and sustainable development; (b) eradicating widespread and severe poverty; (c) halting the marginalization of Africa in the global community; (d) bridging the infrastructure gap on the continent; (e) significant improvements in agriculture and the environment; (f) the advancement of science and technology; and (g) human resource development initiatives (i.e. &endash; poverty reduction, higher education attainment levels, reversing brain drain, cultural and health issues, etcetera).

These areas of focus for the development of Africa through NEPAD are appropriate and deserve commendation. However, in order for NEPAD to be successful as currently articulated, it must aggressively focus on solving the unfortunate legacy of poverty for Africa and its people. Moreover, as a launching point for Africa's long-overdue renaissance, based on indigenous initiatives and focused external support, NEPAD must be seen as the proper vehicle for tackling the major impediments to the economic prosperity and political stability of Africa.

Currently, the leaders of Africa are committed towards working together to mobilize the energy and capacity of the international community to achieve a series of millennium development goals for the continent. Most essential to these overarching goals is the solution to the crisis of people living in extreme poverty. The paradox of our times is that more people have lifted themselves out of poverty in the past fifty years than in the previous five hundred years! However, because the world population has grown so significantly, there are more poor people than ever before. There are now approximately 1.2 billion people living in abject poverty out of the six billion who share our planet. This is the ultimate challenge facing the leaders of Africa and its global partners. Africa is the poorest continent and while roughly two-thirds of the world's poor live in Asia and one-third live in Africa, poverty is more deeply entrenched in Africa. In fact, half the population of Sub-Saharan Africa is surviving on a dollar a day in terms of purchasing parity. This means that what they have to survive on is the equivalent of what a dollar would buy them in the United States.

During the 1990s, population growth outperformed economic growth and therefore if this trend continues the continent of Africa is destined to become steadily poorer. The challenge of NEPAD is to radically change this trend. While this is definitely possible it will require a very strong commitment to both political and economic reforms from Africa's current leadership and a real partnership from the industrialized countries to support this monumental effort. There is no doubt that history has been cruel to the people of Africa. Slavery and colonialism degraded and exploited the continent and left a bitter legacy. Apartheid and the Cold War continued the destruction. But if we are to learn from history we must also face the fact that part of the explanation of the present situation in Africa lies in the failed policies that have been forced upon many African nations in recent decades by both industrialized nations and African themselves.

Africa's per capita income is lower now than it was thirty years ago, in the heyday of the independence movement. Added to this, we now face the tragic and brutal reality of more than 25 million African people living with HIV/AIDS. On present trends, none of the millennium development goals will be met and Africa will unfortunately become even poorer. As stated previously, the overall purpose of NEPAD is to reverse these trends. We must therefore be ambitious about what can be achieved &endash; but all sides of the partnership must be clear that business as usual will not do &endash; and NEPAD must lead to a radical shift in the pace and depth of African development in order to survive in the new millennium. Accordingly, I will briefly outline six major areas requiring capacity building (both internally and externally) to support NEPAD's goals, priorities and current areas of focus as they relate to the challenges of poverty.

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR PEACE AND SECURITY. The first issue, which is critical to NEPAD's success, is solving armed conflict and civil unrest on the continent. Currently, twenty percent of the people of Africa are living in conditions of conflict. These conditions cause terrible suffering and hold back economic development in the affected countries. The extent of conflict is so great that the whole continent is affected, and this creates a major barrier to inward investment. The World Bank estimates that conflict is costing Africa two percent economic growth every year. But on conflict resolution we are in a position to make considerable progress. We have learned in Sierra Leone that, with concentrated international effort, conflict can be successfully ended and that institutions of a properly functioning state can begin to be rebuilt. It is now clear that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and the Sudan that similar conditions are now ripe for progress towards real and lasting peace. This should be the top priority of NEPAD.

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. The second issue, which is critical to NEPAD's success, is the need to significantly increase levels of economic growth. After the negative growth in many African countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sub-Saharan Africa is now achieving an economic growth rate of around three percent. But in order to significantly reduce poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa needs an estimated seven percent economic growth each year for the next ten to fifteen years. This is not impossible. Countries like Uganda, Mozambique and Botswana are achieving such levels of growth &endash; and the commitment to reform in countries like Ghana, Tanzania, and Ethiopia is likely to lead to significantly greater progress. But the NEPAD partnership must not be satisfied until there is a commitment to economic reform that is generating seven percent annual growth across the continent. This will require better economic and political governance throughout Africa. Poor people need political rights in order to be able to express their views and preferences, and social and economic rights in order to enjoy their humanity, and to see their children grow and prosper.

CAPACITY BUILDING IN FINANCE AND MARKET ACCESS. The third issue, which is critical to NEPAD's success, is appropriate financial mechanisms and fairer terms of trade. Approximately seventy percent of Africa's exports are unprocessed commodities, and most commodity prices are falling consistently. Current trade rules create serious barriers to the processing that Africa needs to speed up its economic growth and development, to generate higher income for workers, and to be able to afford the imports it needs to invest in the better infrastructure necessary for global commerce. Africa's marginalization in the globalization process is exemplified, according to the World Bank, by its almost zero share of global manufactured goods (less than two percent) and its reliance on volatile commodity prices as sources of foreign exchange. As a continent that exports mostly non-processed goods, Africa in addition to the impediments of massive agricultural subsidies imposed by the more industrialized nations, must deal with its small domestic markets that are dependent on a very tiny middle class of consumers. But Africa can also do more to encourage trade within the continent. Trade barriers between African countries are high. This creates obstacles to regional integration, economic growth and inward investment. It is entirely within Africa's own capability to agree to the lowering these barriers, which would significantly contribute to improved economic growth and development.


CAPACITY BUILDING AND INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE. The fourth issue, which is critical to NEPAD's success, is inward investment and the need for increased investment in Africa's infrastructure. There is no doubt that poor transportation systems in Africa are a major barrier to economic development and add massively to the overall cost of exports. Other weaknesses in infrastructure are a reflection of underdevelopment. Most Africans have never used a telephone let alone a computer and less than ten percent of rural Africans have access to electricity. The most important point is that the reforms needed to encourage the growth of a strong domestic private sector in Africa are the same reforms that are needed to attract more inward investment. And urgent reform is essential because in current conditions forty percent of Africa's savings, which should be the basis for increased domestic investment, unfortunately leave the continent and are invested elsewhere.

CAPACITY BUILDING IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES. The fifth issue, which is critical to NEPAD's success, is increased investment in human development in order to secure rapid progress in education and the delivery of effective health-care systems. The high levels of communicable diseases in Africa are a major burden holding back the development of Africa. Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS create a disease burden that is causing great human suffering and severe economic loss. Recent developments point the way forward in dealing with the HIV/AIDS crisis. Senegal and Uganda have demonstrated that levels of HIV/AIDS infection can be drastically reduced with a strong commitment to public education and testing, coupled with the treatment of sexually transmitted disease and widespread availability of condoms. Many countries are now putting in place the appropriate arrangements to prevent mother-to-child transmission and to take up the pharmaceutical companies' offers of reduced-price anti- retrovirals. In the long term, the research evidence is clear that we will have an AIDS vaccine and a microbicide that will enable women to protect themselves from the risk of infection. HIV/AIDS is a formidable foe of accelerated growth and sustainable development in Africa. HIV/AIDS is also a deadly opponent of any serious poverty alleviation effort in Africa. By decimating the most productive segments of the society, HIV/AIDS creates a domino effect of

poverty seriously eroding gains made over the past thirty years on the family, community and national levels. As wage earners become sick and die, household income dries up, food becomes increasingly scarce and/or rationed, children are pulled out of school, and more poor families spend limited savings and household holdings on fruitless HIV/AIDS palliative treatments. In addition, communities are deprived of their best-trained leaders, and nations suffer from the untimely deaths of its best bureaucrats, technocrats, nurses, teachers and other professionals. Similarly, education is a basic human right but also a crucial investment for a successful economy. Obviously our aspirations must not stop at primary education and we must focus more attention on the health, education and welfare of the many children who become orphans as a result of the HIV/AID pandemic in Africa.

CAPACITY FOR INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AID ASSISTANCE. The final issue, which is critical for NEPAD's success, is a clarion call for better overseas development assistance. Studies have suggested that we need a doubling of development assistance from the current $50 billion to $100 billion if the world is to meet its millennium development goals. But equally important is the commitment to improve the quality of aid offered to African nations. Against considerable resistance, aid is gradually being unified from the narrow national interests of donors and consultants, to a more focused strategy where there are large numbers of poor people in need of social and economic reforms. In addition, progressive countries have moved away from funding a proliferation of projects to backing poverty-reduction strategies drawn up by developing countries themselves. The consequence has been considerable strengthening of the quality and effectiveness of local institutions including finance ministries, central banks, health and education systems, revenue collection agencies, courts and the private sector. This is itself an improvement in the quality of governance. And the consequent improvement in public financial management enables development agencies to transfer resources directly to government budgets, thus helping to fund rapid improvements in health, education and other poverty-reducing services. NEPAD must continue to build on the success of these reforms.

In conclusion, if NEPAD is to succeed it must transform the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world it must bring about a new desire to encourage political energy and focus to the joint efforts of pushing forward the long overdue political, social and economic development of Africa identified in the capacity building categories outlined above. Most important of all, the people of Africa must be empowered to demand more of their governments and of the international community.

To learn more about the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) contact David J. Saunders. He is the co-founder and CEO of Venue International Professionals, Inc. (VIP) - a full service travel, tourism and trade consulting firm based in the Washington Metropolitan Area that specializes in travel, tourism and trade-related opportunities to the Continent of Africa. He is also the Director of Administration and Management Services for the Constituency for Africa (CFA), which is the premiere advocacy-based non-governmental organization (NGO) based in America focusing on Africa's political, social and economic issues and concerns. He is a frequent panelist of radio and television talk shows as well as a featured writer of articles for several newspaper, magazine and trade publications on the subject of the travel and tourism industry as well as related trade and investment opportunities in Africa. He can be contacted at telephone: (202) 371-0588 and e-mail: dsaunders@cfanet.org.

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