South Africa and Nigeria were the main architects, protagonists and stakeholders in the process resulting in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and advocating it as the blue print for Africa's development. Their combined economic and political relevance gave weight to their initiative, which was actively supported by Algeria, Egypt and Senegal as other core countries in the initiative.
Critical observers question if this is once again old wine in new bottles. And indeed, its catalogue of socio-economic proposals offers hardly any new conceptual approach. It is largely reflecting in a rather uncritical way the dominant neo-liberal paradigm and discourse of the international financial institutions (World Bank and International Monetary Fund). It hence offers no alternatives to the current trends of economic globalisation but instead adheres to the underlying concept of liberalised trade regimes and the dogma of the private economy.
Rather, it seeks to identify and occupy a niche to seek gains from the existing (though grossly unequal and discriminating) structures of the world market. Adebayo Olukoshi, Executive Secretary of the Dakar-based Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) recently summarised some of the substantial critique among African scholars towards the socio-economic essentials of NEPAD during an Africa Day, organised by the African embassies in Denmark in September 2002 at the University of Copenhagen: "Arguably, the essentially neo-liberal framework that informs the economic principles and direction spelt out in the NEPAD document represents a set back in the African quest for a return to the path of sustained economic growth and development."