Briefing by Ms Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cape Town, 1 August 2007
Thank you for inviting us to brief the Committee on the pertinent issue that I am certain is of interest to all South Africans. For us as a Department, it is always a pleasure to be afforded the opportunity to brief the Committee on the latest happenings regarding our foreign policy agenda so that we are not only account to the elected representatives of the people, but we also receive guidance in the execution of our mandate.
I also welcome the visit by the Committee to the Department scheduled for 6 and 7 August, which will afford you the opportunity to raise some of the issues further with the relevant officials as you engage with them.
Let me start by reassuring Members that South Africa continues to actively engage the NEPAD process at the national, regional, continental and international levels in line with our foreign policy vision of Consolidating the African Agenda.
OUTLINE OF PRESENTATION:
The following presentation will, firstly, highlight the key challenges and priorities for the implementation of NEPAD during 2007/8. Secondly, the presentation will aim to map out the progress made within South Africa on initiatives being undertaken to internalise NEPAD as an approach to socio-economic and sustainable development. Thirdly, the presentation will focus on progress made in translating the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Programme (RISDP) as the regional expression of NEPAD. Fourthly, the presentation will highlight continental initiatives aimed at meeting the NEPAD priority areas including an overview of progress noted on the continent coupled with the challenges that still exist in effectively implementing NEPAD will be listed. Lastly, the paper will briefly refer to some of the key continental developments regarding the African Peer Review Mechanism, including the current challenges and way forward facing the review process.
KEY SOUTH AFRICAN CHALLENGES & PRIORITIES FOR 2007/8:
In order to provide capacity and political support for the implementation of NEPAD Programmes, we need as a country to address, amongst others, the following key challenges and priorities for the 2007/08 financial year:
- Interacting with key continental and international partners and stakeholders to generate/access support (financial, technical and institutional) for the implementation of NEPAD and utilise every available forum for this purpose;
- Taking stock of the myriad of international pledges of support for the implementation of NEPAD, as well as the various sectoral NEPAD plans, strategies, programmes and projects to see what actions should be prioritised by South Africa to ensure a focused and specific rollout on a set of key actions;
- Ensuring that each AU member state and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) align national and regional development programmes with NEPAD; and
As I indicated at the beginning of my presentation, progress has been made within South Africa through initiatives undertaken by various government departments to internalise NEPAD as an approach to socio-economic and sustainable development. I would like to briefly reflect on this to give Members an indication of how far we are with this process.
NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF NEPAD:
I am certain we can all agree that a clear framework for implementation is the first critical step towards ensuring that implementation of NEPAD is as effective as it could be. Towards this end we have undertaken the development of the NEPAD Implementation Strategy for South Africa or NISSA as it is commonly known. The process of finalising this document is at an advanced stage and I am pleased to report that the process of preparing the Strategy was broad based and included all civil society, business and labour key stakeholders, as well as representatives of government at various levels. The framework document for emanating from these consultations is now being converted into “The Draft National Implementation Strategy for South Africa” (NISSA) for consideration, first by the IRPS Cluster and then Cabinet.
The South African Department of Science and Technology has reported good progress on the following initiatives:
- Implementation of the NEPAD Science and Technology Plan of Action adopted in 2005
- The African Laser Centre facilitating continental/ joint programmes on laser technology.
- Implementation of the NEPAD African Biosciences initiative by four regional networks of centres of excellence throughout the continent. Activities focus on research and development in the areas of human health, animal health, industrial and mining bio-processing and environmental remediation.
- Expansion of the African Mathematical Institute (AIMS) into a network of regional centres spread across the continent.
Communications infrastructure remains a critical aspect of, not only our own, but the development of the continent as a whole. The Department of Communications has reported that it has already briefed South African telecoms operators and potential investors on the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network.
It is anticipated that construction of the cable (known as the East Africa Submarine Cable System_EASSy) is completed by December 2008. An agreement is being finalised between the e-Africa Commission and the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund for equity investment and funding for the project.
As you are aware, Parliament is currently considering for ratification the Protocol on the Policy and Regulatory Framework for the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Network for Eastern and Southern Africa, which is in line with the national ICT policies, including the Electronic Communications Act.
With regard to the NEPAD e-Schools Project, in April 2007, the Departments of Communications and Education and the Presidential National Commission (PNC) on Inform Society and Development (ISAD) successfully launched the pilot phase of the South African NEPAD e-Schools programme.
The Department of Health has reported that a NEPAD Coordination Unit has been established within the Department to facilitate links with SADC and AU as well as harmonisation and coordination of its programmes in line with the AU, NEPAD and other international Health Strategies and the MDGs. The key activity for this financial year shall be the strengthening the NEPAD Accelerated Malaria Control Programme for Africa (NAMCA).
Good Governance Initiative : The National Treasury has reported on its work on the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative, CABRI for short. As you may be aware, the National Treasury is a member of the Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative (CABRI). CABRI is a pan-African network of senior government officials in ministries of finance and planning. CABRI's primary objective is to promote the importance of efficient and effective management of public finances to foster economic growth and enhance service delivery for the improvement of living standards of people living in Africa. CABRI is owned by 26 African member states and the South African National Treasury houses the CABRI Secretariat. While CABRI is not a NEPAD project, CABRI's objectives are in line with the objectives of NEPAD which seeks to establish African ownership of policy design, build up resourcefulness of its people, encourage partnership between people across Africa and accelerate continental integration.
The Department of Education is in the process of developing a scholarship to provide bursaries for deserving students from the African Continent who do not have access to higher education institutions.
And finally, the Department of Agriculture is aligning its activities to the NEPAD Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) priorities. The Minister of Agriculture has approved posting of an Agriculture Attaché to Addis Ababa Mission to attend to sector issues with the AU.
REGIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF NEPAD:
- I would now like to turn to the progress we have made with regards to the implementation of NEPAD within our own region, SADC. You will recall that the SADC Regional Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) has been the SADC region’s response to implementation of NEPAD Programmes and has reiterated the synergies between the two. To this end, activities in terms of the NEPAD sectoral programmes have been built into each of the sectors of the SADC work programme under the RISDP. Furthermore, the SADC and NEPAD Secretariats had both appointed focal points to expedite co-operation and information-sharing between the two institutions. Some progress has been made with regard to implementation of NEPAD at a SADC level and these are detailed in the briefing that has been circulated to members for their information. (List is provided on the power point presentation).
- REGIONAL CHALLENGES IN IMPLEMENTING NEPAD:
- It is important to mention that while a number of good initiatives have been undertaken, these have been faced with challenges relating to implementation, capacity and resources.
Another challenge facing our region is ensuring that a specific NEPAD project must have the potential to be expanded into a regional or continental project. Carefully selected current programmes / projects should be packaged and relabelled as NEPAD programmes/projects. By implication, a RISDP project must be designed from the onset as a regional project, instead of a national project having the potential to be expanded into a regional project.
One of the issues that we have deal with is the process of communicating this to our people and the people of the region so that African ownership of NEPAD is firmly entrenched.
This should be done through demonstrating the practical benefits of NEPAD and the IRSDP among South Africans.
This Communication and information sharing is vital to the success of whole NEPAD project.
CONTINENTAL IMPLEMENTATION OF NEPAD:
At the continental level, significant progress has also been made regarding the political and strategic direction of NEPAD. During the 17 th Meeting of the Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC) which took place in Accra on 1 July 2007 on the margins of the AU Summit this matter received attention. The discussion focused on the integration of the NEPAD Secretariat into the AU Commission, with the concurrent establishment of a NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency.
In proposing a way forward on the integration issue, President Mbeki acknowledged that the Brainstorming Summit that had been proposed by President Wade of Senegal in 2006, had not been held and highlighted the need for the Summit to be held in order to discuss amongst other issues, the recommendations on the integration of NEPAD into the AU structure and processes. The HSGIC agreed to defer the discussions on integration, which will take place at the Brainstorming Summit, to be held as soon as possible i.e. before the end of 2007.
Progress has also been made with regard to implementation of NEPAD at a continental level. The following initiatives (amongst others) have been undertaken:
- Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund: This is an exciting and unprecedented development As President Mbeki announced during his recent speech to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association:
“The Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund has been established to finance large scale African infrastructure development projects. Of critical and historic importance is the fact that the entirety of the capital of the fund, currently amounting to US $625-million, originates exclusively from within our continent.
We are confident that within the next 12 months the capital base of the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund will reach US $1 billion. Practically, we, as Africans, are making the firm statement that we are ready to rely on our resources to finance our own development focusing in the first instance on the critically important infrastructure projects already elaborated by NEPAD.”
- NEPAD Environment Initiative: The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council approved an innovative $150 million program to support over 28 countries (including South Africa) across Sub-Saharan African initiatives to fight land degradation. This program is directly related to the implementation of the land degradation thematic area of the environment initiative of NEPAD.
- Establishment of the African Environmental Facility: The African Environment Facility would be a key tool in supporting the implementation of the environment initiative of NEPAD given the lack of resources available to Africa through the current multilateral environment funding facilities.
- NEPAD Tourism Action Plan: This is a strategic objective for the NEPAD Tourism Action Plan and a priority intervention area in the RISDP.
- NEPAD ICT programmes: The Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) has signed a grant agreement with the NEPAD e-Africa Commission, through the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), to support the NEPAD Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Broadband Infrastructure Programme.
- NEPAD Food and Security Summit: A NEPAD Food and Security Summit, focussing on the availability, accessibility and affordability of food, was held in Abuja, Nigeria from 4-8 December 2006. The objective of the Summit was to review progress in the implementation of the 1996 World Food Summit outcomes as well as the 2003 Maputo Declaration for a 10% government budgetary allocation to agriculture by African countries to achieve food security for all.
- Programme on Governance and Public Administration: Operating under the guidance of the Pan-African Ministers of Public Service, the programme embodies a commitment by the continent to revitalise governance and public administration through strengthening the capacity of state institutions.
- NEPAD Broadband Infrastructure Project: The NEPAD Broadband Infrastructure Project, including the East African Sub-marine cable System (EASSy) was identified as one of the NEPAD ICT flagship projects by the NEPAD HSGIC in 2004. This is a private-public partnership initiative that involves 31 telecom companies and financial development institutions (DFIs).
- Chinese continental support for NEPAD: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the NEPAD Secretariat and the Secretariat of the China-Africa Forum at the end of a visit of the NEPAD Secretariat CEO (Prof Mucavele) to China at the invitation of the Chinese Government. The MoU aims to strengthen co-operation and exchange of information between the Secretariats and to explore means of supporting NEPAD, especially in human resource development. The Chinese Government handed over a cheque for $500, 000 to the NEPAD Secretariat. The donation is for a nursing and midwifery training programme in Tanzania and Kenya.
PROGRESS MADE ON AFRICAN CONTINENT DUE TO ADHERENCE TO NEPAD VISION & PRINCIPLES:
There has been encouraging and significant progress registered during the last few years with regards to adherence by the African Continent to the NEPAD Vision and Principles in a number of areas. These include:
- The African Union is leading the resolution of conflicts and managing peace building in many countries. Furthermore, Budgets, mandates and leadership of key organs of the AU are being re inforced. NEPAD principles / commitments are giving strength and direction to these changes.
- RECs: Many RECs are working to align their programmes in line with NEPAD priorities.
- AU Peace and Security Commission (PSC): The AU PSC has been established. This structure provides a framework for conflict prevention, management and resolution for peacekeeping and peace-building.
- Priority Areas: Through NEPAD, African leaders have fundamentally changed the development paradigm to include agriculture, infrastructure, ICTs, science and technology, environment and regional economic integration, which were not among top priorities of the development agenda of international partners, have now become core issues.
- Health: The emergence of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria provides resources for the overarching strategy to address AIDS and its impact on development.
- Infrastructural Development: In the past six years the African Development Bank and World Bank have increased priority to projects under the NEPAD Short Term Action Plan for Infrastructure Development. A number of regional infrastructure projects have been brought to the implementation stage.
- ODA levels: The increased engagement with G8, OECD and EU countries has resulted in increased development assistance flows to Africa. Over the past five years, NEPAD has ensured increased ODA to Africa of an unprecedented level. However, these flows must be understood against the debt-servicing burdens that still face some LDCs.
- African Economic Growth: On the economic front, trends that existed before are being reversed. The economic outlook for the African continent is the best it has been for many years. There is an increase in countries following sound macro-economic planning, policies and management. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2007 Report on Africa states that, with regard to growing prospects for 2007 and the medium term outlook, Africa is expected to grow at a rate of 5.8% in 2007, slightly higher than the rate recorded in 2006 (5.7%).
CONTINENTAL CHALLENGES FACING NEPAD IMPLEMENTATION
While significant progress has been recorded in NEPAD implementation, a number of challenges still exist. These need to be tackled head-on in order to move forward on NEPAD. Key challenges include:
- Strengthening Political Leadership
- Capacity Building
- Integration of NEPAD Priorities into national development programmes
- Increase multi-country infrastructure projects
- Widening APRM Participation
- Converting pledges by developed countries into concrete actions:
- Making ODA more effective
AFRICA PEER REVIEW MECHANISM
As I indicated at the beginning of my presentation, I would now like brief the Members on the African Peer Review Mechanism and the latest developments pertaining to this process.
The APRM is a flagship programme that has received international acclaim and the first set of reviews has been completed in Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Algeria and South Africa. Thus far, twenty-six countries have acceded to the APRM. The APRM process is addressing corruption, poor governance and inefficient delivery of public goods and services to their citizens.
The APR Panel agreed that lessons learnt from the five reviews done so far necessitates a Brainstorming Session. A Workshop/Brainstorming Session will be held in Algiers towards the end of October 2007.
As you can determine from the presentation t he rationale for the continued promotion of NEPAD has not changed and if anything there is now more than ever a stronger case for its recognition as key to Africa’s development challenges. African priority programmes have been developed and are ready for implementation.
NEPAD a long-term development programme. Critical success factors enhanced political leadership, ownership by people, strengthening institutional human & financial capacity of national, regional & continental development institutions & increased support by international community.
African people need to be convinced that NEPAD is relevant to them, can address poverty, can ensure sustainable socio-economic development and growth and can make a significant impact on the quality of their daily lives.
People need to see tangible infrastructure projects, an agricultural revolution, and improved health and education delivery systems. It is in these areas that the greatest challenges for NEPAD are to be found. The scale and pace of delivery in these priority sectors remains frustratingly low.
People need to see tangible infrastructure projects, an agricultural revolution, improved health & education delivery systems. It in these areas that greatest challenges for NEPAD to be found. Scale & pace of delivery in these priority sectors remains low.
South Africa has taken leading role in developing NEPAD as Africa premier development programme, in mobilising African & international support for NEPAD & in supporting structures & processes of NEPAD.
- In looking forward to 2010, it is critical that:
- South Africa continues to mobilise material support domestically, regionally, continentally and internationally for implementation of NEPAD;
- NEPAD should be made relevant to South Africa as a country; and
- South Africa should actively assist in process to move NEPAD to higher plane of action and implementation
As the Department of Foreign Affairs, we need to continue with the advocacy of NEPAD at national, regional, continental and international levels so as to muster effective and vigorous support for Africa's development programme.
I believe that there in an important role for this committee and indeed Members of Parliament generally in promoting NEPAD a an approach to development and in playing an active role in its advocacy.
I trust that this briefing has been useful.
I thank you.