Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame talks during an interactive interview with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency in Kigali, Rwanda on Sept 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

When the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, or NEPAD, was established in 2001, it was envisaged as the primary mechanism to coordinate the pace and impact of Africa’s development in the 21st century.

Now, two decades down the line, the pan-African strategic framework for socioeconomic development has so far had a memorable journey. It is credited with institutional strides and programmatic landmarks reflecting the performance of the NEPAD as an entity.

As the continent virtually marked the 20th anniversary of the organization’s establishment on Friday, Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president and chairman of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, said the NEPAD’s values are part and parcel of the reform spirit in the African Union. He said it was no accident that the NEPAD officially became the African Union Development Agency in 2018.

At the 31st ordinary session of the Assembly of African Union Heads of State and Government in Nouakchott, Mauritania, in 2018, a decision was taken to transform the NEPAD into the African Union Development Agency, becoming known as AUDA-NEPAD. Its establishment was part of the global reforms geared at improving the AU’s operational efficiency.

“The NEPAD’s track record makes it the ideal institution to help lead implementation of Agenda 2063, of building the Africa we want on behalf of the African Union. I thank the partners who have supported NEPAD over the last two decades, both in Africa and beyond,” Kagame said.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president and the chairman of the AU, said: “Over its 20 years of existence, the NEPAD has promoted programs in areas such as agriculture, health, education, the environment, information and communication technology and infrastructure development.

“It has inspired the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative and prioritized the development of regional infrastructure in sectors such as transport, energy, ICT and trans-boundary trade.”

With the pandemic having dealt a devastating blow to economies across the continent, the agency has been working to mitigate the socioeconomic consequences by promoting necessary service delivery through small-scale infrastructure development and small and medium-sized businesses.