Report on the Implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF)
The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF), adopted by the forty-sixth session of the General Assembly in December 1991, is based on the principles of shared responsibility and full partnership between Africa and the international community. The agenda set objectives to be attained, including an average annual GDP gross rate of at least 6 per cent and a minimum of US$30 billion in net official development assistance (ODA) in 1992, thereafter increasing at an average rate of 4 per cent per annum.
Following the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on "Preliminary consideration of the implementation of UN-NADAF", submitted to the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly this year, this report to the twentieth meeting of the ECA Conference of Ministers is meant to give an account of the achievements by African countries and its partners and to highlight elements of uncertainty.
Africa's ownership of the New Agenda calls for increased efforts in building the basis for effective economic recovery and sustainable development and in successfully implementing regional and international programmes having shared objectives including: the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, Agenda 21 on Environment and Development, the Dakar/Ngor Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development, the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, the Human Development Agenda for Africa for the 1990s, the second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA II), the second United Nations Transport and Communications Decade in Africa (UNTACDA II) and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries in the 1990s.
In fulfilling their commitments, African countries, individually as well as collectively, have taken several initiatives.
At the national level these included economic and social reforms;
- the intensification of the democratization process; the promotion of
- human development; the development of the food and agriculture
- sector; the protection of the environment. At the subregional and
- regional levels, serious efforts have been made to forge cooperation
- and lay the foundation for the integration of the African economies.
The initiatives of the international community in support of or relevant to Africa's efforts included the establishment of a number of financing institutions such as the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and, under negotiation, the Diversification Funds for Africa's Commodities.
The international community has also been involved in several peace-keeping and emergency relief operations in Africa and has taken initiatives with respect to relief and rehabilitation and, to some extent, to Africa's external debt.
As a full partner to UN-NADAF, the United Nations system has strongly advocated Africa's development and coordinated most of the initiatives of the international community in favour of Africa. One major initiative taken by the United Nations has been the preparation of a System-wide Plan of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development. Within the system, ECA, the principal organ at the
regional level for promoting African socio-economic development, was given the lead role at the regional level, including the follow-up and monitoring of the implementation of the New Agenda.
This report stresses the fact that during the initial years of implementation of the New Agenda, Africa continued to experience poor performance on the social as well as the economic fronts.
Actual economic growth was well below the target of the New Agenda and the social conditions of the majority of people have not improved. Furthermore, African economic recovery and development is still constrained by major handicaps including backwardness of the food and agriculture sector, underdevelopment of human capacities, inadequacy of physical and institutional infrastructures, low level of domestic financial resources and multiplication of armed conflicts.
Although Africa has remained prominent on the agenda of the international community for the 1990s, the fact that its partners have not focused on the region's strategic objectives is still a matter of concern. Furthermore external financial resources are not forthcoming and the assistance provided not only remained well below the level recommended in UN-NADAF but also tied to restrictive conditionalities. Also constraining the process of recovery is the fact that the current debt-relief mechanisms have not removed the region's debt overhang.
At this stage of implementation of the New Agenda, the paper suggests that Africa's efforts in addressing poverty and removing its structural handicaps must continue and be increased. On the other hand, the international community should boldly support the African social and economic transition. The commitment of Africa and the international community to the successful implementation of the New Agenda would accelerate the social and political transformation of the region and arrest the ravaging internal conflicts and the suffering of one twelfth of the world's total population.
1. The economic and social crisis confronting Africa since the early 1980s revealed the structural and debilitating handicaps which impeded the development process of the region. The situation has been of great concern to African Governments and the international community and has led several countries to resort to finan-cial stabilization and structural adjustment programmes with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Besides these national initiatives aiming at restoring macro-balances and removing distortions in the markets and promoting efficiency, African Heads of State and Government collectively assessed the African critical situation and adopted Africa's Priority Programme for Economic Recovery, 1986-1990 (APPER) in July 1985. Under the Programme, African Governments committed themselves to implement practi-cal and operational activities so as to lay the foundation for durable structural changes and sustained and sustain-able development in order to contribute to the realization of the goals of the Lagos Plan of Action (1980), the first United Nations Transport and Communications Decade in Africa (UNTCADA I), the first Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA I) and the Harare Declaration on the Food Crisis in Africa. Under APPER, African countries further committed themselves to promote subregional and regional cooperation and integration, reaffirmed as being one of the most critical steps in removing major structural handicaps and in the realization of collective self-sufficiency.
2. While APPER represented the determination of African countries to assume full responsibility for their development, the region remained dependant on external assistance to achieve its goals. The implementation of APPER was therefore subject to increased external financial and technical assistance. Consequently, Africa used the United Nations as a vehicle to reach a consensus with the international community for the implementa-tion of the international strategy known as the United Nations Programme of Action for the African Economic Recovery and Development, 1986-1990 (UN-PAAERD), adopted in May 1986 by a special session of the United Nations General Assembly devoted to Africa's critical economic situation. Under this Programme of Action, African countries vowed to undertake far-reaching structural reforms as well as national and regional pro-grammes in such priority areas as food and agriculture, human resources, transport and communications, popula-tion, the promotion of the role of women in development and subregional and regional cooperation and integra-tion. With respect to resources for the implementation of UN-PAAERD, out of an estimated total requirement of US$128.1 billion, African countries pledged to mobilize as much as $82.5 billion in domestic resources.
3. Although UN-PAAERD represented an unprecedented consensus between Africa and the international community, it was not a binding commitment and its achievements fell short of expectations. In the majority of cases, the reforms undertaken by African countries were not sustained and/or did not meet its objectives; some of the recommended policy means were not effectively applied and the major handicaps were not removed. On the other hand, the donor community on the whole did not meet its financial commitment and little was done to alleviate Africa's debt burden and to address the commodity issue.
4. As a consequence, Africa entered the 1990s still confronted with social and economic hardship, with real per capita income on the decline; the growth of agricultural production lower than that of total population; increased mass poverty and further deterioration of the living conditions of the population.
5. Recognizing that the circumstances which led to the adoption of UN-PAAERD persisted, the interna-tional community included African economic recovery among its priorities for international cooperation in the 1990s. Based on Africa's submission to its forty-sixth session, the General Assembly adopted a successor pro-gramme, the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF). The improvements of the New Agenda, in comparison to UN-PAAERD, include:
(a) The setting of clearly focused objectives to be attained during the 1990s;
(b) An average annual GDP growth target of at least 6 per cent; and
(a) A minimum of $30 billion in net official development assistance (ODA) in 1992, which, thereafter, is set to grow at an average rate of 4 per cent per annum.
6. One major characteristic of the New Agenda is its principle of shared responsibility and full partnership between Africa and its development partners. In this respect, African countries are expected to honour their commitments to achieve the necessary far-reaching social and economic reforms, promote regional and subre-gional cooperation and integration, intensify the democratization process, apply appropriate policies in key areas such as human development, food and agriculture, population, environment and women in development. African countries also pledged to create an enabling environment for the effective contribution of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as revitalizing South/South cooperation for development. While the additional efforts of the international community to support Africa's development are essential for the successful imple-mentation of the New Agenda, Africa's ownership of the programme and the practical steps that African Govern-ments are taking towards building the basis for effective recovery and sustainable development would be deter-minant in the process.
7. The New Agenda was officially launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in December 1992. Since its adoption, the United Nations has established the necessary mechanisms for the follow-up and monitoring of its implementation with a lead role being assigned to ECA. In accordance with the schedule for reporting to intergovernmental review bodies, the Secretary-General submitted to the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly a report on the "Preliminary consideration of the implementation of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s". While this report was meant to highlight the main factors pertaining to the successful implementation of the New Agenda at the global level, there was also need to review and assess the initiatives taken by African countries in implementing programmes aimed at the achievement of the objectives of the New Agenda.
8. It is in this context that the present report has been prepared. It represents a follow-up to the study on "Stra-tegies for financial resources mobilization for Africa's development in the 1990s", prepared in the context of implementing UN-NADAF and presented to the Conference of Ministers at its nineteenth meeting. Section II of the report attempts to establish the interrelationship, in terms of objectives, between UN-NADAF and other regional and international action programmes for Africa; section III gives an account of the major initiatives and achievements by African countries in implementing UN-NADAF; and section IV briefly reports on the initiatives taken by the international community in support of Africa's efforts. Based on the main facts identified in these sections and pertinent findings in other ECA studies, the report analyses, in section V, the elements that are still of concern in relation to the implementation of the New Agenda. Concluding remarks are made in section VI.
II. Interrelationship Between UN-NADAF and Other Regionaland International Action Programmes for Africa
9. The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s has defined objectives which are shared with other action programmes prior and subsequent to its adoption, including the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community, Agenda 21 on Environment and Development, the Dakar/Ngor Declaration on Population, Family and Sustainable Development, the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, the Human Development Agenda for Africa for the 1990s, the second Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA II) and the second United Nations Transport and Communications Decade in Africa (UNTACDA II), to cite a few. Therefore, the New Agenda should not be seen as a separate programme to be implemented in isolation from other actions expected in major areas of social and economic development. What is essential is for African countries to adopt a coherent approach to economic and social development with a view to addressing widespread poverty and deprivation suffered by the majority of their populations.
10. The successful implementation of the New Agenda must encompass Africa's strategic objectives for the 1990s which include growth and equity, human resource development, development of physical and institutional infrastructures, transformation of the food and agriculture sector, prevention of environment degradation and most importantly, the realization of regional integration which is the supportive factor of the process.
11. As regards economic reforms advocated by UN-NADAF, despite the controversy about structural adjust-ment programmes (SAPs), African countries should work to restore economic growth and lay the ground for sustainable development. Furthermore, African countries will constantly need to adapt their economies to a rapidly changing international economic environment. The issue is therefore not whether to adjust but how. Economic growth in itself is not the ultimate objective unless it increases the well-being of people, especially in the African context of rapid population growth. The actual trend of rapid growth of population in Africa will impede the possibilities of accelerated growth in per capita income in the 1990s.
12. The growth objective set by UN-NADAF is meant to serve as means for increasing human capacities. The 6 per cent growth target, which perhaps seems to be too optimistic will not even be sufficient to improve signifi-cantly the living conditions of people in the majority of African countries. In this regard, the World Bank has established that even if this target were realized, most African countries would still require 15 years to achieve acceptable unemployment levels and about a per capita GDP of $1,000.
13. In relation to the broad objective of economic growth for the improved well-being of people, recom-mended reforms will yield results only if associated with the implementation of sectoral policies such as the population policies contained in the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and the promotion of equality of opportunity, especially for women, in line with the recommendations of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women. As the central policy objective of accelerated economic transformation called for by UN-NADAF is human development, its attainment will require a combination of programmes aimed at strengthening education and training, health and medication, housing and family planning services. In this respect, the objective of achieving sustained and sustainable growth encompasses the goals of the Human Development Agenda for Africa in the 1990s and the World Summit on Children.
14. The Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (SNPA) for the 1990s shares also the major objectives of UN-NADAF related to sustained and sustainable growth for this group of countries, the majority of which (32) are in Africa. The SNPA has identified five major priority areas which are similar to the main objectives of the New Agenda, namely the design of appropriate national macro-economic policy frameworks geared to long-term growth and focusing on poverty alleviation; human resources development through appropriate population, health, education, economic management policies; integrated rural development aimed at improved food self-sufficiency and enhanced rural incomes; and diversification of the production base.
15. Poverty is very much associated with environment problems as the search for survival by the poor con-tributes to its serious deterioration which in turn, further jeopardizes the future. Therefore, the objective of UN-NADAF for sustained development is shared by Agenda 21 which reflects the Bamako Convention on disposal of toxic waste and the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification. The attainment of this goal also calls for the implementation of appropriate policies in food and agriculture production and in the control of the growth of population so as to mitigate the effect of damaging practices and pressure on fragile lands.
16. With regard to the promotion of regional and subregional cooperation and integration, the actions called for by the Abuja Treaty and UN-NADAF are closely related. In view of the structural handicaps associated with the fragmentation of the African economic space, the achievement of the objective of UN-NADAF will be a step towards consolidating the basis for the region's economic integration. Similarly, in view of the disarticulation of the inter-country transport and communication infrastructures and the small size of the majority of national markets which at present do not allow the required economy of scale for industrial development, the regional cooperation and integration objective of UN-NADAF is shared by UNTACDA II and IDDA II, respectively. These programmes, UN-NADAF and the protocols on transport and communications and on industry are mutually supportive.
17. Nothing short of peace will create the enabling environment for the implementation of UN-NADAF since economic transformation, growth and sustainable development cannot be achieved in a context of conflict. The intensification of the democratization process in Africa cannot be achieved if not supported by economic and social reforms which promote accountability and efficiency in resource allocation and management; by the adop-tion of sound human development policies which could facilitate the access of the majority of the population to basic social services; and by the establishment of an environment which encourages popular participation and the formation of people's organizations.
18. The follow-up, monitoring, assessment and evaluation of UN-NADAF and the other action programmes will require the development of statistical databases. Therefore, the implementation of UN-NADAF calls for the revitalization by African countries of their national statistical systems to enable them access to relevant and timely data and development information for policy formulation as well as for the monitoring and evaluation of changes during the process. This highlights the interrelationship between UN-NADAF and all other relevant action programmes with the Addis Ababa Plan of Action for Statistical Development in Africa in the 1990s.
III. Preliminary Account of Achievements by African Countries
19. The enthusiasm of African countries to embark on profound policy shifts to achieve the goals of UN-NADAF has not diminished during the three-year period of its implementation (1991-1993). From available information, in a growing number of countries, several steps have been taken towards a better perception of problems and the definition of priorities and for the introduction of measures aimed at medium- and long-term social and economic development. Since the adoption of UN-NADAF, quite a number of socio-economic indica-tors have moved in the positive direction. In 1993, the total regional output grew by 1.4 per cent, representing a slight improvement over the 0.7 per cent growth attained in 1992.
20. The agricultural value-added rose by 1.4 per cent in 1993 against a negative 0.6 per cent in 1992. What is more encouraging is that agriculture value added for the 32 African least developed countries increased by 3.0 per cent in 1992 as against a rise of 2.6 per cent in 1991. The region on the whole experienced an improve-ment in the rate of growth of the manufacturing sector and value added increased by 3.7 per cent in 1992. The major actions pursued or initiated at the national and regional levels directly related to the implementation of the objectives of UN-NADAF are reviewed below.
21. The following review highlights the process made by African countries in the implementation of key aspects of UN-NADAF.
A. At the national level
1. Economic reforms
22. A number of African countries pursued efforts or initiated economic reforms aimed at consolidating measures for enhanced economic management. Beyond the short-term concern of stabilization, the major pre-occupation has been a shift to economic recovery and long-term development. Policy reforms were sustained in such areas as trade, price and exchange rate policies. Several countries have abolished import-export licenses and quantitative restrictions and introduced liberalized systems where the monopoly of marketing boards was either eliminated or reduced.
23. The restructuring of the public sector included efforts to encourage private entrepreneurship and public sector reforms so as to reduce the size of the civil service to a manageable level as well as to increase its efficiency and productivity.<p>2. Intensifying the democratization process
24. Politically, Africa underwent considerable changes and the region as a whole experienced a significant overall improvement in human rights, political liberalization and freedom of organization and, to some extent, democratization. The progress made is well illustrated by an assessment of Freedom House, a human rights organization in the United States, which recorded that 37 African countries have taken steps towards political liberalization as from the early 1990s; out of 18 presidential elections held during 1990-1993, eight could be classified as "free and fair" and the number of countries classified as "most free" increased from two in 1988 to nine in 1992.
25. The democratization process also allowed the development of indigenous voluntary development move-ments in Africa which, in some cases, have been instrumental in the further consolidation of the process. In this respect, African Governments no longer perceive NGOs as trouble-makers but partners. Their activities are now either tolerated or, in the majority of cases, coordinated and supported.
3. Promotion of human development
26. In spite of the budgetary constraints brought about by austerity induced by the ongoing economic reforms and the decline in their export earnings, several African countries intensified their efforts to arrest the deteriora-tion of the living conditions of their population through rehabilitation of training and education, improvement of health and provision of other basic services such as clean water and decent housing. Concurrently with other programmes aiming at restructuring the economies, the majority of African countries promoted domestic entre-preneurship through the rehabilitation of vocational training institutions and coordination of the integration of women and youth in productive activities. With the public sector facing resource constraints restraining the expansion of literacy programmes, many governments encouraged NGOs and voluntary organizations to handle such activities.
27. The determination of African countries to protect the rights of children and create an environment for facilitating their development in terms of schooling, health and nutrition is reflected by the adoption, in 1992, of the Dakar Consensus which outlines specific programmes of action at the national and regional levels. The consensus addresses the need for investing in children as a sound strategy for improving overall human develop-ment.
28. Population being a critical element of human development, the majority of African countries have adopted national population policies with, in several cases, the establishment of national population institutions to support the process of integrating demographic variables in development planning. Conscious of the con-tinued rapid growth in population, family planning programmes are being implemented, although attempts to adopt measures aiming at reducing the rural-urban migration have been made, in a few countries only.
4. Food, agriculture and rural development
29. Africa is prominently rural and the food and agriculture sector is the mainstay of most of its economies. Conscious of this situation, African countries shifted from the ill-conceived development policies of the 1980s to give to this sector the centre stage it deserves in development. The measures taken included incentives for domestic production through price liberalization and the strengthening of research and extension services. African countries have also established and strengthened institutions in charge of pest management as the main crops remained very vulnerable to pests. Small-scale irrigation schemes have been developed at small-holder level to promote off-season production and limit the effects of recurrent rainfall deficits. In support of the food and agriculture sector and especially the marketing and processing segments, the economic reforms were associated with an increase in public investment and have markedly rehabilitated the support structures, including rural markets, feeder roads and the handing over of warehouses previously owned by public parastatals, to private entrepreneurs. The export sector of agricultural commodities increased as from the early 1990s and, with a view to adapting to a situation of declining or stagnating commodity prices, African countries intensified diversification programmes, although these need to be further expanded.
5. Protecting the environment
30. In addressing critical environment problems such as deforestation, soil degradation and deterioration of water resources, African countries responded by adopting natural resources management programmes, including afforestation, soil conservation and the promotion of techniques which limit the excessive use of fuelwood. Over 20 national environment action plans are being implemented, including some specific studies on the population, agriculture and environment nexus. Some countries promoted greater use of fertilizers to boost production through increased productivity rather than extension of cultivated lands. Legislative and administrative measures have also been adopted and enforced to limit the devastating effect of bush fires and animal over-concentration. The majority of African countries have established national committees for environment and development in order to institutionally support policy formulation and follow-up of programmes. African Governments colla-borated with NGOs involved in environment protection-related activities.
B. At the subregional and regional levels
31. The regional economic groupings, namely the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern African States (PTA), the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Magreb Union (UMA) have remained the frameworks for the harmonization of trade and monetary policies and production structures. Through leading research institutions, African countries embarked on the selection of biotechnology techniques which could, in the near future, remove some of the constraints to increased food and agriculture production. For critical issues such as environment and human development, African countries adopted common positions in 1992 and 1994, respectively.
32. In addition to permanent consultation and cooperation in various fields, African countries have confirmed their determination to forge regional integration, with the adoption in 1991 of the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community. The Treaty will come into force shortly with its ratification by the required minimum of 36 countries. Steps towards the implementation of the first phase of the Treaty have been taken, including the preparation and adoption of sectoral protocols and measures for the revival of intra-African trade, the promotion of joint production ventures and a global framework for the development of agricultural produc-tion.
33. The establishment of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM Bank) is another practical step towards the mobilization of resources for these purposes. Besides the establishment of the relevant institutional mechanisms, the steps already taken in the implementation of UNTACDA II and IDDA II are leading to the achievement of Africa's regional integration objective. For example, 17 per cent of the total cost of the approved programme for 1991 under UNTACDA II, equivalent to $9,798 million, was devoted to subregional and regional projects and more than $1,700 million of this amount has already been secured.
IV. Major Initiatives taken by the International Community in Support of Africa's Efforts
A. The international community at large
34. The adoption of UN-NADAF was the reflection of the emergence of a new partnership between Africa and the international community. The call for increased solidarity for Africa was renewed in the Tokyo Declara-tion on African Development, adopted by the International Conference on African Development held in Tokyo on 5 and 6 October 1993. Some other supportive initiatives include the establishment of the African Capacity-Building Foundation, in Harare, Zimbabwe, the creation of the Global Environment Facility in Nairobi, Kenya and, though negotiations are not yet concluded, the recommendation of the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a Diversification Fund for Africa's Commodities, possibly within the African Development Bank (ADB). The efforts of the international community in peace-keeping and emergency relief operations need also to be appraised. On the debt front, further alleviation measures have been taken with respect to official bilateral debt.<p>1. The African Capacity-Building Foundation (ACBF)
35. The establishment of the Foundation was sponsored by ADB, the United Nations Development Pro-gramme (UNDP) and the World Bank which contributed $30 million and attracted $70 million from bilateral donors. The major objective of the Foundation is to effectively strengthen the capacities of training institutions, unlike the usual supply-driven and tied technical assistance.
2. The Global Environment Facility (GEF)
36. The Facility was established in 1991, under the auspices of UNDP, the United Nations Environment Pro-gramme (UNEP) and the World Bank. This initiative of the international community to promote a global response to environment issues began with a three-year pilot scheme (1991-1994), funded at $1.2 billion which is aimed at protecting biodiversity, reducing global warming, protecting international waters and reducing the depletion of the ozone layer. With the relative good success of the scheme and the growing interest of develop-ing countries and the donor community, GEF will most probably be extended and become the main mechanism for funding environment protection programmes. The Facility is expected to be free of conditionality and operate outside existing bilateral and multilateral development assistance. Further, as biodiversity represents the major component of the Facility and recent innovations tended to give emphasis to community-based pro-grammes and increased NGO involvement, Africa could benefit immensely from the scheme.
3. Diversification Fund for Africa's Commodities
37. The diversification of African economies is an important factor of recovery and will require considerable resources and efforts from both African countries and the international community. The international initiative towards this end which was taken in 1990 by the United Nations (the Secretary-General's Expert Group on African Commodity Problems) was further elaborated with a recent study conducted by the Food and Agricul-ture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and presented to the General Assembly. Based on this report, resolution A/48/214 on the implementation of UN-NADAF was negotiated, including a call for the international community to support the establishment of the Fund with resources of $50-75 million for an initial period of three to four years. Negotiations for the establishment of the Fund are still underway, and there is hope that they will be concluded soon.
4. International peace-keeping and emergency relief
38. Bilateral and multilateral donors as well as NGOs have been in the forefront of emergency relief opera-tions in Africa which, in the early 1990s, were associated with difficult political transition. In this connection, a sizeable amount of resources is being channeled to peace-keeping operations in Angola, Mozambique, Somalia, Rwanda and, more recently, in Burundi.
39. The international community contributed, to some extent, the reduction of the effects of the severe drought which hit the Eastern and Southern African subregion in 1992, including arranging and financing sub-stantial shipments of food and other components of emergency assistance. If this assistance was far from compensating the losses experienced by the countries affected, especially in terms of reduced export earnings, it alleviated, to some extent, the suffering of the population and particularly the poor.
5. Recent initiatives in debt relief
40. While the "Enhanced Toronto Terms" for debt relief allowed the rescheduling of only about 17 per cent of Africa's total debt, some recent bilateral initiatives for further relief have taken place, mostly with respect to ODA credits. Creditor countries such as Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, among others, provided debt relief to less developed countries, bilaterally, outside the framework of the Paris Club. In the case of some of the African middle-income countries, Egypt was able to consolidate in 1991 $28 billion of bilateral debt and was granted a 50 per cent debt cancellation. The French Government announced in 1992 a "Debt Conversion Fund" of about FF 4 billion (about $830 million) involving the official bilateral debt of four severely indebted African countries, namely Cameroon, Cte d'Ivoire, the Congo and Gabon. The United States of America also announced that it will write off half of the debts of the 18 poorest countries in Africa. With regard to commercial debt, relief measures included buybacks and conver-sions including debt-for-equity swaps, debt for exports, and debt-for-development swaps.<p>B. The United Nations system
41. As a major partner to UN-NADAF, the United Nations system responded to its commitments and took several steps to ensure that the New Agenda would be implemented successfully. In fact, apart from debt relief, all of the above-mentioned initiatives taken by the international community have been channelled through the United Nations. In addition, the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes, specialized agencies and the international financial institutions devised specific programmes and activities aiming at adequately addressing issues pertaining to African economic recovery and social development, including:
(a) Advocacy for African development;
(b) Mobilization of resources; and
(c) The elaboration of a United Nations System-wide Plan of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development, with a view to strengthening harmonization and coordination both at the system and regional levels.
42. The major elements of the initiatives taken by the United Nations are briefly reviewed below:
1. The advocacy for African development
43. The Secretary-General, who has overall responsibility for the implementation of UN-NADAF, has played an important role in advocacy for Africa's development. He has warned against the Afro-pessimistic views which indicate that Africa is hopeless or a special case "to which the principles of economics do not apply". He also stressed that development is no longer solely a matter of economics but rather the development of capa-cities and strong and efficient institutions and people's rights and participation. The Secretary-General has repeatedly pointed out that it is the international approach to Africa's problems that failed during past decades and that it should be reappraised and should bring about more commitment to the social and economic develop-ment of the African region which, in view of its resources and economic potential, could become an element of peace and prosperity for the entire world. In addressing the donor community and the group of the seven most industrialized countries (G7), the Secretary-General urged the North for a mandatory reduction of Africa's debt in order to give room to the region's self-financing capacity to grow. With a view to maintaining the momentum on African economic recovery in the framework of the implementation of UN-NADAF, the Secretary-General has established a Panel of High-level Personalities on African Development to be his "think-tank" on the issue. The panel includes eminent persons from Africa, outside Africa and from the United Nations system.
2. The United Nations System-wide Plan of Action forAfrican Economic Recovery and Development
44. The preparation of the United Nations System-Wide Plan of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development was recommended by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) which, at its thirtieth session, suggested its structure and format, stressing that it should focus on areas requiring multilateral action. The Plan was prepared, based on specific inputs from all United Nations organizations and the international financial institutions.
45. The main objectives of the System-Wide Plan of Action are to:
(a) Serve as a catalyst to the United Nations in the realization of the objectives of the New Agenda;
(b) Provide a framework for concerted and coordinated action by the United Nations, especially with respect to operational activities; and
(c) Assist African countries in their efforts to achieve sustained and sustainable economic and social development in accordance with Africa's own regional strategies and other major global action programmes.
46. The Plan is subject to periodic up-dating following each review by the General Assembly of the progress in the implementation of the New Agenda, with a view to reflecting new developments and circumstances at both the African and international levels.
47. With regard to the level of resources to be made available by the United Nations system for African development in the 1990s, attempts made to assess its details in the first version of the Plan related essentially to the activities planned for the first two biennia of the decade. The information made available by the various organizations indicate that in 1990 and 1991, $9 billion and $10.9 billion, respectively were allocated by the system to their activities in African countries. The figures for the biennium 1992-1993, exclusive of the contri-butions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), are $7.2 billion and $8.1 billion, respectively and $8 billion each for 1994 and 1995.
48. The revision of the Plan is under way and, based on the observations made by CPC on the orientation and structure of the first version, improvements will include:
(a) More focus on priority areas
(b) The definition of elements of the enabling environment at the African level;
(c) The collaborative programmatic approach;
(d) The definition of a lead agency and clear indication of responsibilities of participating agencies;
(e) A framework of the gender dimension of development.
3. Coordination, follow-up and monitoring
49. The importance of coordination, as a means to maximize the impact of the programmes and activities of the various organizations of the United Nations system, was given due consideration in the implementation of the New Agenda. To this end, the existing inter-agency and intergovernmental machineries at the highest level, namely the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) and CPC will be used.
50. With respect to follow-up and monitoring, the Secretary-General has established the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on African Economic Recovery and Development (UN-IATF) which is composed of all organizations and agencies of the United Nations, the international financial institutions (the World Bank and the IMF), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), ADB, the Global Coalition for Africa (GCA) and NGOs. The Task Force is chaired by the Executive Secretary of ECA, with the Commission acting as its secretariat.
4. The lead role of ECA at the regional leve
51. The Economic Commission for Africa, being the main economic and social development centre in Africa within the United Nations system and a major institutional support to African countries in their efforts to estab-lish sound economic development policies, has been given the lead role, at the regional level, in the implementa-tion of the UN-NADAF. The entire work programme of ECA is geared towards the achievement of the objec-tives of the New Agenda. In this respect, the Commission concentrated its efforts on the implementation of regional and international strategies in areas defined in the System-Wide Plan of Action, including human development, productive capacity building, natural resources and environment management and regional economic cooperation and integration. ECA had, in cooperation with other organizations, prepared the ground for the implementation of specific action programmes included in the Plan, such as UNTACDA II, IDDA II and the Addis Ababa Plan of Action for Statistical Development in Africa in the 1990s.
52. With regard to follow-up and monitoring of the implementation of UN-NADAF, ECA initiated through a UNDP-funded project the establishment of a regional monitoring network involving focal points in each country and the Multinational Programming and Operational Centres (MULPOCs)
5. The United Nations partner institutions in the implementation of UN-NADAF
53. Regional institutional dynamism is one of the factors which will contribute to a successful implementa-tion of UN-NADAF in the medium term and of the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community in the longer term. In this respect, the Joint OAU/ECA/ADB Secretariat is the framework for strengthening har-monization and coordination of the respective activities of the three institutions. Since the adoption of the Treaty and UN-NADAF, important consultations and promotional activities have been jointly organized, including the workshops on the promotion of regional cooperation and integration in Florence, Italy in February 1992, Abidjan, Cte d'Ivoire in April 1992 and Kampala, Uganda in May 1992; a continent-wide seminar on the African Economic Community in July 1993; and a seminar on the South Commission Report, in September 1993.
54. With a view to implementing the objectives of the New Agenda, OAU, ECA and ADB established close relations with the Global Coalition for Africa. The Coalition was launched in 1991 with the mandate of mobiliz-ing resources for African development. It has taken root and organized several consultations between donor and African decision-makers. Its annual reports on African social and economic trends form a valuable contribution to the monitoring of the implementation of the New Agenda.
55. In conformity with UN-NADAF, the non-governmental sector has an important role to play. In this respect, the United Nations system has established closer collaboration with NGOs to promote human develop-ment, capacity-building and popular participation. The possible lines for cooperation between the system and the NGO movement was the subject of extensive research contained in a report prepared by the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit.
56. The collaboration between the United Nations system and OAU, ADB, ECA and NGOs increased through UN-IATF of which those organizations are members.
V. Issues of Continuing Concern in the Implementation of UN-NADAF
57. The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s was adopted at a time when the end of the cold war provided ample opportunities for the redynamization of international cooperation for development and when the African region is in the midst of unprecedented changes. Both the international and regional contexts are a cause of hope. However, in spite of the determination of African countries to under-take far-reaching economic and social reforms and the renewed commitment of their partners in development to give tangible support to Africa's efforts, there are some elements of uncertainty which deserve further con-sideration, at both the African and international levels
A. At the African level
58. Africa's economic recovery and social development depends on Africa first. While there is no doubt that laudable efforts have been made, the disappointing overall economic performance and the resulting low level of human development as well as the prevalence of many handicaps could further impede the process of recovery.
1. Overall economic performance and its social consequences
59. Many growth targets have been set for African development. As indicated earlier, the GDP growth target set by UN-NADAF is 6 per cent per annum. Prior to the New Agenda, the Maastricht Conference in 1991 had set a growth target of 4-5 per cent, based on the World Bank study on "Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth" published in 1989.
The region as a whole has not reached any of these targets and actual performance was well below expectation. During the first three years of the implementation of the New Agenda, the GDP of the region grew, on average, at 2 per cent in 1991 and 0.7 per cent in 1992 and an estimated 1.4 per cent in 1993, representing an annual average growth of a mere 1.5 per cent. With the region's population still growing at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent, the real per capita income continued to decline. If the agriculture sector made a modest recovery in 1991, increasing by about 2.5 per cent from 1990, it witnessed a sharp decline of 3 per cent from 1991 to 1992. The balance-of-payments situation worsened with the overall balance widening from $6.3 billion in 1991 to $9.8 billion in 1992; the aggregate current account deficit increased from $4.6 billion in 1991 to $10.8 billion in 1992 with the external debt liabilities increased from $246.5 billion in 1991 to about $255 billion in 1992.
60. This poor economic performance during the initial years of the implementation of UN-NADAF will not only jeopardize a quick recovery in subsequent years but also deteriorate further the social conditions of the African population. Africa is still characterized by pervasive poverty, malnutrition, poor health conditions, illiteracy, low life expectancy and high maternal and child mortality. Based on current trends, it has been estab-lished that poverty will increase only in Africa during the 1990s and the number of the absolute poor could be as high as 250 million by the year 2000. Associated with poverty is the threat to the sustainability of the physical environment, especially in the context of a fast-growing population. Overuse of marginal land and fuel wood also has poverty as its root cause.
61. These indications and trends show that the hardship experienced by many African countries with economic reforms for more than a decade has yielded little dividends in terms of human development in Africa. While there is no doubt that efforts must be sustained, there is need to further analyze the basis for the determination of the growth targets and to determine how far the constraints to economic growth have been effectively removed.
2. Persisting structural impediments
62. African economic recovery and development is still constrained by major impediments, including the back-wardness of the food and agriculture sector, underdevelopment of human capacities, inadequacy of physical and institutional infrastructures and shortage of domestic resources.
63. Agricultural development and diversification called for by UN-NADAF will only be achieved if efforts are geared towards the transformation of the sector from subsistence to a predominently commercial one. Africa's pace of technological innovations in agriculture has not been improved and remains the slowest in the developing world and agro-industrial processing remains at a rudimentary level. The overdependence of Africa on a few primary commodities shows the need for diversification but the issue is still at the stage of parlous debates. The most debilitating handicap of Africa is the lack of capacity which long prevented the region from adequately responding to crises and being able to design and implement home-grown strategies for its development. The insufficiency of human skills is the major factor preventing Africa from removing other handicaps. While the African Capacity Building Foundation and other regional initiatives are expected to make a break-through in the area of capacity building, there is still an uncertainty as to how the related objective of UN-NADAF could be achieved in the medium term, in view of the costs associated with the process.
64. With regard to physical infrastructures, the efforts to improve national transport and communication net-works have had remarkable results although in recent years, investment in this sector remained below the required levels and resulted in neglect of maintenance and rehabilitation. An element of concern in the imple-mentation of both UN-NADAF and the Abuja Treaty is the disjointedness of the transport and communication networks within and among African countries. Also, the ongoing efforts to harmonize policies and remove tariff barriers will not bring about the unification of markets if countries are not linked through the interconnection of the various transport and communication networks.
3. Shortfall in the mobilization of domestic resources
65. The low level of domestic resources is the key missing link in African development. Whatever the amount of external support contemplated, the objectives of the New Agenda will be achieved, only if Africa is able to mobilize its own resources for the purpose. In its assessment of the financial resources required to attain the growth target set by UN-NADAF over the period 1993-2005, ECA estimated that the domestic investment rate would have to rise from the current average of 15 to 35 per cent of GDP and the domestic savings rate from the current average of 8 to 25-37 per cent of GDP, over the period. The achievement of such rates of invest-ment and savings would require not only incentives through the establishment of a more enabling environment but also a higher and sustained GDP growth rate with a more equitable income distribution.
4. Social instability
66. Armed conflicts continue to affect not less than a dozen of African countries, destroying life and produc-tive capacities and infrastructures and inflating dramatically the number of refugees and displaced people. Not only did instability prevent the concerned countries from concentrating on developmental activities but also dis-couraged support from the international community. The region as a whole has been paralysed by this situation with the diversion of development resources to purely emergency relief operation.
B. At the level of the international community
67. Although UN-NADAF is a non-binding compact, it poses a challenge to Africa and to the international community in view of its principle of shared responsibility. If Africa has prominently remained on the agenda of the international community in the 1990s and the donors have generously provided assistance to the victims of the drought in 1992 and of several ongoing conflicts in Africa, it is not a certainty that they could be made to boldly adhere to Africa's own agenda and to provide the resources at the level commensurate with the objec-tives of UN-NADAF.
1. Insufficient focus on Africa's agendas for the 1990s
68. Africa, more than any other region in the developing world, has had many internationally agreed compacts and strategies, yet the continent is lagging behind other developing regions by all means of measure-ment of social and economic progress. A reason for this paradox is that Africa's partners may not have given sufficient attention to Africa's most pressing needs of structural transformation. The current concentration on humanitarian assistance does not extend beyond immediate relief operations to work at the removal of structural impediments. Also, the bulk of external assistance remained supply driven (imports of manufactured goods and technical assistance) and only marginally related African capacity building efforts in many areas.
69. There is still concern about the adequacy of the response of the international community to the African crisis as the support provided hardly meets the objectives of UN-NADAF and Africa's own agendas for the 1990s especially. Addressing the issue of poverty, building indigenous capacities and making effective the regional integration process. While the new set of conditionalities imposed by the donor community includes economic reforms, trade liberalization and democratization, little support is provided to mitigate the social costs of reforms, promote local entrepreneurship and improve the managerial, administrative and judicial system, which prerequisite for the success of the dual process of economic and political reforms.
2. Shortfall in financial support
70. Under UN-NADAF and, as indicated earlier, it is expected that the support of the donor community to Africa's economic recovery and development would require an ODA of $30 billion which will continue to increase during the 1990s at about 4 per cent per annum. Also, debt-relief mechanisms should keep the actual debt-service payments within manageable limits (not exceeding $9 billion annually) and a solution to the com-modity issue, using compensatory mechanisms and supporting the diversification of the sector should be devised.
71. The initial period of the implementation of UN-NADAF has witnessed a cut on aid plans by bilateral as well as multilateral major donors. A report of the Secretary-General to the forty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly revealed that ODA to the continent, which declined from $19.7 billion in 1990 to $18.3 billion in 1991 and $12.1 billion in 1992, is very far from the recommended level. This declining trend corresponds to a fall-off in bilateral aid provided by the members States of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
72. The same trend is observed in multilateral assistance, with new lending commitments by the World Bank to sub-Saharan Africa falling by 30 per cent. The Bank attributes this, however, to low absorption capacity of African countries. On the debt front, the burden persists as Africa's debt service continues to absorb about one third of the region's total exports. This implies that debt-relief measures remain inadequate for addressing the African debt overhang.
73. With respect to trade, Africa's share of world trade continued to decline. While the volume of commodity exports grew slightly, the depressed prices saw the total value declining. The Secretary-General's report referred to above indicates that Africa lost $5.6 billion in potential earnings from the continuing deterioration in its terms of trade between 1990 and 1993.
74. The United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa should be seen as a renewed commit-ment by African countries and the international community to address seriously the crisis confronting Africa since the 1980s. While developments within the African region and in the international context give ample opportunities to achieve the objectives of the New Agenda, both parties should endeavour to fulfil their respec-tive commitments.
75. The initial period following the adoption of the New Agenda has not been a very good one for Africa on either the economic and or the social front. While the transformations required cannot take place overnight, what is needed is the consolidation of the basis for quick recovery in the future. Therefore, Africa should not lose sight of the fact that it bears the primary responsibility in the process and that its efforts must continue and be increased. Much more is needed to address poverty, food and agricultural development and diversification, economic management and the further acceptance of democratic principles and restructuring of the public sector. At this stage of implementation of the New Agenda, African countries should work at removing handicaps which could impede the achievement of its major objectives, including: forging national consensuses and bringing about social peace which is conducive to social stability and economic development; pursuing population policies in the framework of the Dakar/Ngor Declaration and with a view to addressing the demographic, agricultural and environment nexus; addressing the problem of the inadequacy of domestic capacities through the better utilization of available human and financial resources and fostering African economic recovery and social development by stepping up domestic savings in order to ensure self-financing of investments for the rehabilitation, maintenance and development of physical infrastructure and social services.
76. The international community should consider Africa as a region in transition with the potential to successfully conduct its economic and social affairs and become a full partner in world affairs. To support this process, the donor community must realize that charity alone cannot redress the currently pervasive poverty and structural handicaps and the underlying factors of the African development crisis. What is required is a coherent response to Africa's needs through the search for long-lasting solutions to the debt and commodity issues and an increased volume as well as quality of development finance.
77. There is no doubt that the African development problematic remained complex as it requires simul-taneous progress in every key area. To the question as to where the region should start, the response is that Africa needs a well-thought-out and long-term capacity building perspective, integrating programmes aimed at sound human, institutional and infrastructural development. In view of the excessive fragmentation of African economies, every member State is hardly able to remove the above-mentioned impediments. Therefore, regional cooperation and integration should be seen as the consolidating element of the whole process.
78. Africa's ownership of its strategic planning initiatives for economic recovery and social development should not preclude the participation of the donor community as the process cannot be implemented without its tangible support. While Africa will pursue with determination the reforms advocated by its partners, the latter should be more flexible with respect to Africa's objectives and country specificity and conditionalities should be set, keeping in mind the need for a reasonable time frame in which political and economic changes are to be made.
79. The failure to implement UN-NADAF successfully will have serious consequences for both Africa and the international community. More specially for Africa, it will mean more scepticism about the capability of a whole region to take responsibility for its destiny and increased Afro-pessimism.
Furthermore, the failure to make African economic recovery and social development a reality would not only result in the further suffering of one twelfth of the world's total population but could also constitute a real threat to global peace.
ECA, E/ECA/CM.19/5, 1993. United Nations document A/45/591, annex, 1990. Need for and feasibility of the establishment of a Diversification Fund for Africa's commodities. Note by the Secretary-General. Coutained in Economic and Social Council document E/AC.51/1992/5, 20 August 1992. United Nations Joint Inspection Unit, working with NGOs: Operational activities for development of the United Nations system with non-governmental organizations and governments at the grass-roots and national levels, JIU/REP/93/1, Geneva, 1993. United Nations: Report of the Secretary-General on financial resource flows to Africa, A/48/336 and Corr.1, 1993.