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NEPAD and AU Last update: 2020-11-27  

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NEPAD and the Challenge of Africa’s Development: towards the political economy of a discourse

5. Prolegomenon to an alternative development framework
In this paper, I have been concerned with a distinct aspect of what I consider the basis for rethinking Africa’s development; beyond NEPAD. A critique of NEPAD, I argue, must go beyond expressions of despair or a sense of betrayal. It is in understanding NEPAD as a distinct class project and how this is tied to the significant shift in the African political landscape that we can begin to overcome it and develop an alternative framework—that genuinely empowers our people and gets beyond the neoliberal project. The drafting of an alternative framework, should itself become the project among progressive forces on the continent—where Cabral’s injunction serves as the basis for development programming. It requires the return of the Developmental State, but in a context where state/society relations is inclusive, equity-focused, democratic, and a growing economy (UNRISD 2001). This is not to underestimate the extremely hostile environment in which such a project must operate. It is important that in attempting to take ownership for policies that are in the interest of global capital, the sponsors of NEPAD are not allowed to deflect the enormous pressure that has been put on the G8 and the Bretton Woods Institutions in the last two decades. Critical areas of the work of OAU/AU remain at variance with key propositions of NEPAD—and prefigure a different world, in which African countries are not held hostage by global capital and international financial institutions.


My appreciation to several Ndugu with whom I continue to break bread on NEPAD and other issues of concern to our continent and people. Much thanks to Yusuf Bangura, Archie Mafeje, Mahmood Mamdani, Thandika Mkandawire, John Ohiorhenuan, and Adebayo Olukoshi for continued dialogue—many would recognise themselves in some of the ideas expressed in this paper. I, of course, take responsibility for any error. Much thanks to Uduak, partner and editor, for courage in this period of adversity—and who never ceases to amaze with her enthusiasm; and the Lord for continuing grace.

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