Development as Freedom: An investigation into the effectiveness of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) on human development in sub-Saharan Africa.
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That sub-Saharan Africa has suffered from decades of socio-economic crisis is no longer the dominant discourse, the major concern that remains is the continents inability to combat the depth of its underdevelopment and explore the prospects of its vast human and natural resources for economic development. As a means to rid the continent of impoverishment and economic stagnancy, African leaders were prompted to adopt a neo-liberal route to development, and thus the establishment of the African led, New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD).Founded in the year 2000, NEPAD was introduced under the umbrella of the African Union (AU) as being a regional body aimed at resuscitating the continents economic sector through an African Renaissance. In the same time period that NEPAD was established yet another major development initiative was introduced in the sub-Saharan region, this time being the USA led development strategy known as the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade policy of 2000. Much like NEPAD, AGOA’s neo-liberal development strategy was aimed at economic cooperation and growth in the region by creating greater opportunity for African business to penetrate US markets. Despite NEPAD and AGOA’s efforts to bring about change and improve the everyday lives of Africans poverty remains a pervasive issue in the region with progress slow and the shortcomings mounting. Why is this the case? Using Amartya Sen’s capability approach as a framework for analysis, the study considers the endogenous challenges to NEPAD and AGOA, namely a critical discussion of the development framework of these initiatives. As these initiatives were formed to improve the lives of Africans does the concept of development within these initiatives demonstrate a human approach to progress? The key analysis lies in highlighting whether the development framework of the AGOA and NEPAD create the opportunity for the expansion of freedoms and capabilities of sub-Saharan Africans which will allow them to “lead the lives they have reason to value” (Sen, 1999:10).