A perspective from the CEO of NEPAD on regional development in Africa

[INTERVIEW]

Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki
CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and a former Prime Minister of Niger
 

Interview with Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency and a former Prime Minister of Niger about Brexit, TICAD VI and the vision of the Africa Union.


—In regards to the African Union (AU), we are witnessing the limitations of Europe in terms of crisis management. Is there any lessons to be learned?

There are lessons that we can learn from that. We issued a regional integration program for the African economic community in a progressive manner, including political learning and economical learning.

We have also learned that the AU needs to be a union of people, not only of governments. What we are witnessing today in Europe is that not everybody wants to support a vision based on unity and tolerance. The lessons to be learned are that we need to gradually educate people so that they feel united. Education towards integration is also a lesson that has to be learned.

—What is the impact on Africa after BREXIT?

The impact is mostly related to trade, because Africa has been negotiating partnership agreements with Europe. The UK as a trading partner is quite important for a certain group of countries. Brexit also impacts aid. There is a European Development Fund to which the UK contributes. For now, we cannot say what will exactly happen.

—What brought you to Japan?

We have a regular dialogue with JICA on domains that support the African Union and NEPAD. It gives us the opportunity to tackle and evaluate the implementation of the partnership. I think it is going quite well. I am also taking the opportunity to liaise with institutions like JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation), Keizai Doyukai (The Japanese Association of Corporate Executives), and JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) and try to see how we can move the Japanese private sector toward investing more in the continent.

Additionally, we need to have an interaction with the African Diplomatic Corps. to really learn about relationship between Japan and Africa.

—What are your expectations of TICAD VI?

Regarding TICAD VI, it is very important for it to happen in Africa, because it shows a certain form of equality and partnership. One of the biggest issues that will be flagged – is how the Japanese private sector can really invest more in Africa. I think that it is in the interest of Japan and in the interest of Africa to see what drives private investments, because many projects are at the level of maturity like infrastructures in agribusiness. For Japan, it is very important to think about Africa in the longer perspective, because Africa will double its population in 20 years. Africa middle class is also growing, so this is a market that cannot be ignored.

Regarding TICAD VI, it is very important for it to happen in Africa, because it shows a certain form of equality and partnership. One of the biggest issues that will be flagged – is how the Japanese private sector can really invest more in Africa.

—NEPAD has existed since 2000 – what are the most successful stories that you are proud of?

NEPAD as a program was designed in 2000. And then, the Secretariat was afterward integrated with the African Union to become the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) in February 2010.

A major success story is the moving of the whole agriculture sector towards better planning. Because food security, which was not considered by international partners as a priority in 2000, has became a priority thanks to a NEPAD program.
 
Another success story is the creation of a list of priority infrastructure projects. These projects are cross-boundaries, which means they are regional projects – not national projects. These regional projects in infrastructure are optimal in energy infrastructure, transport, and ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).

Lastly, the work that has been done in science, technology, and innovation has been a considerable success. The continent now has a proper strategy to develop these fields. We think that it is critical to invest much more in these fields.

—How will the African regions be promoted and who will be responsible for doing it?

We have the mandate given by the AU to work with regional economic communities. That mandate gives us the obligation to move to the regional level and support implementation of the African strategic framework to look at capacity strengthening at the regional level. For example, in infrastructure we have deployed about 16 experts in all the regions and they are working with us in order to increase the capacity of the regions in infrastructure implementation.

The regions are really fundamental partners and the quality of our performance needs to be evaluated on the basis of what we do at the regional level.

Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki


Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki
of the Republic of Niger is the Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

A former Prime Minister of Niger, from 1997 to 2000, Dr. Mayaki has a Masters Degree from the National School of Public Administration (Enap), Quebec, Canada and a PhD in Administrative Sciences from University of Paris I, France.

He worked as a Professor of Public Administration in Niger and Venezuela. Between 1996 and 1997, he was successively appointed Minister in charge of the African Integration and Cooperation and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In August 2000, he set up the Analysis Centre for Public Policy.

From 2000 to 2004, Dr Mayaki was a guest Professor at the University of Paris XI, where he lectured on international relations and organizations; he also led research at the Research Centre on Europe and the Contemporary World within that University.

In 2004, he served as Executive Director of the Platform in support of Rural Development in West and Central Africa, the Rural Hub, based in Dakar, Senegal, from where he was appointed NEPAD Chief Executive Officer in January 2009.

www.ibrahimmayaki.com.


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