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Taking the New Partnership for Africa's Development seriously - November 2002

9. Conclusions
Through all of these topics we have sought to note what we have heard from the NEPAD document as an African agenda, and indicators that would demonstrate that the US was supportive of principles articulated in NEPAD that seek to serve the common good.

Fundamentally, we believe that the point of departure of a "new partnership" should be human need, not Africa's integration into the global economic system. As the African Social Forum of NGOs (meeting in Bamako in 2001) helpfully observed, this means that the issue of clean water does not begin by opening up the provision of water to international market forces, but rather by considering access to safe water as a right rather than an economic privilege. To the extent, therefore, that NEPAD inspires a partnership that goes beyond a narrow economic prescription toward a vision of Africa where wealth is shared, equity is affirmed, hopes for health and education are met, human rights are respected, gender inequality is overcome, and peace, security, and good governance become the norm, then this initiative by African leadership - despite the neglect of civil society in its preparation - is a contribution to the good.

For this to happen, the affirmations that appear in the declaration of the Joint CODESRIA-Third World Network Conference on Africa's Development Challenges in the Millennium, held in Accra in April, 2002, need to be heard by African and Western governments alike, and heard far more clearly than appears up to now to be the case. Our African partners in Accra spoke of "a state for which social equity, social inclusion, national unity and respect for human rights form the basis of economic policy; a state which actively promotes and nurtures the productive sectors of the economy; actively engages appropriately in the equitable and balanced allocation and distribution of resources among sectors and people; and most importantly a state that is democratic and which integrates people's control over decision making at all levels in the management, equitable use and distribution of social resources."

It is our firm hope and desire that this vision of Africa, articulated so well by leaders in African civil society, will become the dominant theme in the NEPAD process. NEPAD may provide an opportunity for broad-based and intense African-defined discussion. It may not. In either case, our contribution, as US-based NGOs, is to hear the need-based and rights-based agenda that is implicit in NEPAD; to serve as a medium through which African civil society voices are heard widely as they reflect upon NEPAD; to coordinate our initiatives with those on the continent to the greatest extent possible; and to challenge the US government to respond to NEPAD, both as presently designed and as it may evolve, in a manner that respects the indicators set forth here, and in a supportive rather than dominant relationship with African governments and African civil society.

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