Between Hope and Scepticism: Civil Society and the African Peer Review Mechanism
history. We are currently witnessing major ferment in the development of the poorest continent on the planet. In the wake of the failure of the structural adjustment policies of the Bretton Woods institutions and of the negative effects of national policies, attempts are being made at all levels to lay the foundations for a new political and economic framework capable of putting an end to the endemic underdevelopment plaguing Africa. It is in this context that, on the initiative of African heads of state, the African and global community learned of the existence of an ambitious programme known as the New African Initiative (NAI), which would later become the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Since its creation, NEPAD has sparked a great deal of interest, marked by major debates both within Africa and throughout the Western world. Positions on NEPAD vary. For some, it is a new and highly promising dynamic. For others, NEPAD contributes nothing new to development efforts already undertaken by Africa and, indeed, only reinforces the continent’s dependence on the economic and political powers of the North. Nearly four years after its launch, what has NEPAD become? It increasingly appears that outand- out criticism is replacing the strong enthusiasm that prevailed at its inception. In fact, the hopes originally raised by this ambitious programme are now beginning to dissolve. Criticism is emerging from all directions. NEPAD’s biggest supporters, among them President Abdoulaye Wade, are starting to publicly voice their misgivings and censure.