Ministers from countries adhering to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and OECD ministers agreed in mid-2002 to seek ways in which the OECD could help implement NEPAD's objectives. Ministers agreed on three specific areas for co-operation: sharing the OECD's experience in designing and implementing peer review mechanisms; increasing African participation in OECD activities with non-members; and discussing development effectiveness and improved aid management.
Initial collaboration between NEPAD and the OECD has focused on areas of key importance to NEPAD where the Organisation has specialised expertise. The most active area has involved sharing approaches and good practice in conducting OECD peer reviews , in view of the NEPAD objective to develop an African Peer Review Mechanism. Peer reviews are seen as an important tool for promoting exchange and learning regarding economic, corporate and political governance policies among African countries.
Events undertaken in this regard include:
- The OECD has met with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), which has been designated by NEPAD as a technical support institution for the African Peer Review Mechanism, to discuss experience in implementing a wide variety ofOECD peer review mechanisms and to exchange views on the initial design of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
- In 2002 for the first time a UNECA official participated in the full cycle of a peer review undertaken by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
- In October an experts' meeting was organized by the OECD Development Centre to consider effective strategies for realising NEPAD's goals, including through peer review mechanisms.
- Senior OECD officials have also taken part in high-level workshops and conferences on the African Peer Review Mechanism.
The OECD and UNECA secretariats are also exploring ways to facilitate consultation between African countries and OECD donor countries on development effectiveness and aid management. The consultation process would permit each community to assess the others' performance in working to achieve international development goals, including through improved governance and developmentin Africa and through greater policy coherence, aid flows and harmonisation efforts on the part of the donor community.
The third area of co-operation has involved participation in OECD policy dialogue activities, building in part on existing relations with a number of African countries through the programmes of the Centre for Co-operation with Non-Members (CCNM). Highlights in this regard include:
- A regional workshop in Mombasa, Kenya in August 2002 on trade capacity-building, jointly sponsored by the (DAC), the Development Centre and the UNECA.
- A peer review of South Africa's competition institutions that took place in February 2003 in the context of the OECDGlobal Forum on Competition - the first such peer review for a non-OECD country.
- African participation in the 5 March 2003 OECD " Global Forum on the Knowledge Economy: Integrating ICT in Development Programmes".
- A special consultation with African trade unions on their potential role in making NEPAD work from the ground up, which took place in Paris in March 2003 at the initiative of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
- An international conference on trade and investment in Africa among policy-makers, the private sector and regional institutions in Dakar, Senegal in April 2003.
Future NEPAD/OECD collaboration will be driven by the interests, needs and priorities of African countries themselves: both institutions are committed to ensuring the primacy of African ownership and leadership in identifying next steps. This collaboration can build on the considerable progress now achieved in consolidating the NEPAD initiative: over the past year the African Peer Review Mechanism has matured into an operative instrument for pan-African co-operation, action plans for achieving NEPAD objectives have been formulated, and countries and institutions across the continent are aligning their strategies and programmes with NEPAD priorities. As NEPAD enters its implementation phase, collaboration with the OECD will likely become increasingly focused and intensified.
In approaching next steps, the OECD is mindful of the broad diversity of African countries in terms of development progress and public policy priorities - and of the need to establish an inclusive policy dialogue that can accommodate this diversity.
A key challenge will be to find the right balance between pan-African dialogue activities and activities to be implemented on a regional or country-specific level. Furthermore, efforts will be undertaken to pitch activities so as to engage representatives from civil society, e.g. NGOs, trade unions and the private sector.