Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2008

Dialogue of Civilisations? The Case of Nepad

Henri Vogt

July 2003

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


This paper has two parallel aims. First of all, it seeks to present and critically discuss some central aspects of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) initiative. A programme of the African Union and officially launched in October 2001, NEPAD is a comprehensive, ambitious framework for changing the negative course of development in Africa and for ending the increasing marginalisation of the continent in the global era.1 In the words of its founding document, ‘the Programme is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world’ (§1).

NEPAD is not the first initiative of its kind in Africa. A number of development programmes have been designed for the continent since most of its countries gained independence in the 1950s and 1960s. However, and as will be seen in the course of this paper, NEPAD is in many respects different to its predecessors. These differences make it possibly the most promising development framework Africa has ever had; some have even seen NEPAD as the final step along the path to true African independence. No wonder then that NEPAD has gained a great deal of international attention during the past two years. Overall, NEPAD is, or rather has the potential to become, so important that even the wider public and especially people who are interested in international relations and development issues, should become better aware of it.