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Africa: NEPAD receives UN financial boost

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JOHANNESBURG, 5 February (IRIN) - Africa's economic revival plan this week received a financial boost from the United Nations aimed at kick-starting the ambitious project more than a year after it was launched.
UN Development Programme (UNDP) spokeswoman in South Africa, Sharon Chetty, said the total cost of the support programme to the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) would amount to about US $3.5 million.

"UNDP has already allocated US $1.94 million to get the project off the ground. Together with the NEPAD Secretariat, UNDP will actively seek other external and African partners in the funding, with the aim of raising an additional US $1.56 million by the middle of the year," Chetty told IRIN.

NEPAD is an African-designed plan to revive the continent's many ailing economies and overcome poverty. Central to the plan is the idea that Africa will improve governance, and in return the West will provide better terms of trade, more aid, and debt relief.

According to a UNDP background document, the funding programme entails six strategic objectives.

The first is to strengthen the capacity of the NEPAD Secretariat enabling it to enlist experts to promote NEPAD's objectives.

"As implementation commences and initiatives are taken at various levels, the NEPAD Secretariat needs the capacity to mobilise quickly and efficiently the necessary expertise in a wide variety of fields. For this they need a quick response recruiting mechanism, a selective roster of potential consultants," the document said.

The UNDP proposal also underscored the need for an advisory panel to advise "on the evolution of NEPAD".

The panel is expected to meet twice a year and include representatives from the public sectors, civil society, and private sectors of the five African sub regions.

"More than an outreach mechanism, its main purpose is to ensure that NEPAD's initiatives benefit from reflections from the perspective of a balanced corps of Africans from key constituencies," UNDP said.

The project's funds would also be channelled into communicating the message of NEPAD and African Union (AU) in indigenous languages across the continent.

Another objective is to enhance the ability of the NEPAD Secretariat to manage democracy and good governance under an African peer review mechanism, the tool by which African governments would monitor each other.

The last two objectives related to the capacity to assess the performance of NEPAD's external partners, and promoting NEPAD goals at country level.

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