Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office



  1.  Building a new partnership with Africa is a long term agenda. The vision for this partnership was initially developed and articulated by a small group of African leaders, led by President Mbeki, and then endorsed by the OAU. The G8 Action Plan announced in Kananaskis on 27 June is a significant response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) but not the totality of the international response. Much remains to be done to fulfil the commitments that African leaders have made in the context of NEPAD and to put the wide ranging G8 commitments into practice.


  2.  The text of the G8 Action Plan for Africa agreed by the G8 leaders is attached[1]. It was prepared though a series of discussion meetings conducted among Personal Representatives of G8 leaders (Baroness Amos representing the Prime Minister), in a dialogue with representatives of the NEPAD leaders. The opening statement gives strong political support for NEPAD, recognises its African ownership and speaks of a new partnership based on mutual responsibility and respect. It includes a commitment that half or more of the new development funds announced in Monterrey could be used in African countries that create the right policy environment. This is a key commitment that could reverse the decline in aid flows to Africa.

  3.  The rest of the Action Plan is divided into sections that respond to priority issues identified by NEPAD. Peace and Security issues were top of the UK agenda. The G8 commitments in support of NEPAD's peace and security agenda break new ground. They were warmly endorsed by Kofi Annan. They provide a new basis for engagement by G8 members, in support of the UN Secretary General, to tackle the major conflicts in Africa. There are also important new commitments to develop African conflict resolution and peacekeeping capacity in a more co-ordinated way, provided that African leaders themselves can agree on defining the mechanisms.

  4.  The G8 Action Plan covers a very wide development agenda. Other sections address strengthening Institutions and Governance; fostering Trade, Economic Growth and Sustainable Development; implementing Debt Relief; expanding Knowledge (Education and ICT); improving Health and confronting HIV/AIDS; increasing Agricultural productivity and improving Water Resource Management. It was never envisaged that there would be new funding or delivery mechanisms for the Action Plan. The intention is that the G8 will fulfil its commitments through work in existing international institutions and using existing aid instruments.


  5.  In parallel with the preparation of the G8 Action Plan, NEPAD itself embarked on the process of developing its own Implementation Plan. With only a small secretariat, their approach was to engage with African regional organisations, including the Organisation of African Unity, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), as well as international organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to elaborate proposals in support of NEPAD priorities. Key areas of work were their Peace and Security initiative and their Political, Economic and Corporate Governance Initiative. The resolution of conflict and improvements in governance had been identified in NEPAD as pre-conditions for sustainable development for which African leaders wanted to take responsibility.

  6.  NEPAD has also had to pay attention to political issues. The establishment of a 15 member Implementation Committee last October helped to expand its ownership, and NEPAD has worked, with some success, to gain broad acceptance in Africa. It had to overcome initial suspicion from other African states about its composition and lack of representativeness. Some African civil society organisations criticised NEPAD for not arranging fuller public discussion of its programme. Proposals to improve governance had to be explained and were questioned in some quarters as an attempt undermine the principle of African solidarity. African silence on the acute political problems in Zimbabwe encouraged scepticism about NEPAD from the outside world. The NEPAD leadership has argued that problems like Zimbabwe illustrate precisely why NEPAD's emphasis on governance is so important and why they deserve support for trying to find ways to address it.

  7.  Underlying NEPAD was the intent that Africans would come up with a coherent programme to raise standards of political and economic governance on the continent. NEPAD has risen to the task—which would be a tough political challenge on any continent—to produce a Declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance and proposals for an African Peer Review Mechanism to back it up. These are African owned and not donor driven commitments. The Declaration is a good text, consistent with international best practice, which spells out clearly the principles of good governance. The peer review proposals are innovative. Although voluntary, the states which accede to it will accept scrutiny, by other Africans, of their management of public affairs, agreeing in effect to hold one another to their governance commitments. These proposals remain politically contentious in Africa and are being discussed at this weeks meeting in Durban of the OAU/Africa Union.

  8.  NEPAD continues to work to position itself in the wider network of African regional politics and its work on Peace and Security is being developed in this context. It is increasingly described as a programme of the Africa Union, and defines its role as a catalyst for advancing Africa's development agenda.


  9.  There is clearly further work to be done by both sides to implement their commitments to produce an environment in which sustainable development can be achieved. But it should be seen as part of a continuing process to create a new kind of development partnership. G8 leaders undertook to ensure the effective implementation of the Action Plan and asked their Personal Representatives for Africa to provide a report on progress at the next G8 summit in France. Follow-up on the different aspects of the Action Plan will need to be taken forward in the fora with competence in those areas—for example, the World Trade Organisation is the correct forum for action on trade.

  10.  The Prime Minister has announced that UK bilateral aid to Africa will rise to £1 billion by 2006. This will represent a tripling of the resources spent in Africa from the time this Government first took office in 1997, and underscores our continuing commitment to poverty reduction and reform in Africa.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

10 July 2002

1   Not printed. See http:/ Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 20 September 2002