The New Partnership for Africa Development (Nepad) has undergone major transformational and institutional changes with a totally new mandate under the rebranded African Union Development Agency-Nepad (Auda-Nepad). Part of the reforms include development of a communication strategy that entails reaching out to the continent’s stakeholders, including popularisation of the agency’s brand and knowledge advisory services to all 55 African states. Our correspondent Charles Mkoka caught up with MWANJA NG’ANJO, head of communications at Auda-Nepad in Nairobi, Kenya on Wednesday during a platform hosted for East Africa Community and Comesa region.
What is the background for Nepad transition from the institution we used to know to what is now being called Auda-Nepad?
In 2001 Nepad was adopted as the economic development programme of the African Union in Lusaka, Zambia and that was in response to the economic situation on the ground. Nepad was created from two plans; the Millennium Partnership for Africa Recovery Plan Programme and the Omega Plan developed at the Heads of State Summit that took place in Sirte, Libya in March, 2001. This is where the African Union still known as the Organisation of African Unity [OAU] then agreed that the two plans be merged.
That was the birth of Nepad, so Nepad essentially was adopted as a programme to accelerate development on the continent in the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
What flagship regional programmes is Auda-Nepad executing?
We are running more than forty projects on the ground. But now that our mandate has changed to become Africa Union Development Agency, we will switch our thematic thrusts, looking at transforming the way we work so that we translate into the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063.
So, we are looking at seven thematic strategic areas which include economic integration; human and institutional development; food systems and empowerment of rural communities; sustainable energy; climate resilience and natural resources management;science, technology and innovation plus institutional enhancement.
The programmes we have been implementing in the last 18 years cover all areas from trade to infrastructure.
One key role of Auda- Nepad is to popularize an entire 50-year vision of Africa called Agenda 2063. Why is media engagement through Agenda 2063 Network vital in the whole Pan-African discourse?
In terms of Agenda 2063 Media Network, this is a very vibrant group of journalists, communicators and media practitioners from across the continent. It was formalised in 2017 at a meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we brought together journalists and media practitioners. The question we wanted to collectively address was how do we take Africa under the tagline of Agenda 2063 which is The Africa We Want.
Communicators and journalists are the link between government and ordinary citizens they serve. Therefore, Agenda 2063 Media Network is playing a critical role in bridging the gap between giving the voice to ordinary citizens on the role of policies as well as direction that the countries are taking.
As observed here in Nairobi, media has a strong role in shaping the narrative through the amplification role of African development voice. So far, we are beginning to see positive results in that there is now much more content around communication for development. More importantly, the media must track and critic initiatives promised by their national leaders to mirror progress on the ground including ourselves as Auda-Nepad so that we are accountable to those we serve.
What assurance are you giving the public because sometimes the perceptions out there is a lot of conference there is a lot of talk, but not much of real impact on the ground?
By working with the media there is not just talk, but development. This is because development does not happen in a vacuum, there are policies and reforms taking place across the continent. Actually, the birth of Auda – Nepad came out of a result of the reforms that have taken place instituted by [Rwandan President and AU chairperson] Paul Kagame. The reforms were to look at how we can structure the African Union better such that we are no longer sluggish, but effective with regards to being results-oriented.
What is your final word?
Everyone has a role to play in the Africa we want. It starts with you and me, starts with us working together and believing the dream.