New Africa SDGs report shows slow progress, calls for greater action to meet targets
December 9, 2022
Balaclava, Mauritius 9 December 2022 - The Coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and climate change have all hampered Africa’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Halfway towards 2030, most African countries are struggling to meet most SDG targets. Without deliberate policies to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, by 2030, at least 492 million people will be left in extreme poverty and at least 350 million people by 2050.
A joint report by the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been released at the African Economic Conference 2022 in Mauritius. It is titled “Building Back Better from the Coronavirus Disease, While Advancing the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
“Africa can no longer wait on the margins, and the time is now for the continent to rechart its development path and own its development agenda”, noted Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP.
The report evaluates Africa’s progress towards the SDGs and the objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 in the context of the triple crises of COVID-19, climate change, and the war in Ukraine, which are all adversely impacting the continent’s performance on both agendas.
The 2022 Africa SDGs report gives an in-depth analysis of five SDGs: Goal 4 (Quality Education), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), Goal 14 (Life Below Water), Goal 15 (Life on Land) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
SDG 4: Quality Education
Africa has made slow progress in the provision of quality education for all. Despite considerable improvement in school enrolment, some 288 million school-age children are not in school, especially in countries affected by conflict. According to the report, there is a need to increase funding for education infrastructure, especially focusing on pre-primary and primary education, investing in the training of teachers, and digital connectivity.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
The report also shows slow progress towards gender inclusivity and recommends the enforcement of legal frameworks to protect women and girls against discrimination, domestic violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation. For instance, despite women comprising a large proportion of Africa’s labour force, only 29.8% of managerial positions in Africa in 2022, excluding North Africa, were held by women, a modest increase from 29.3% in 2015.
SDG 14: Life Below Water
Organic and chemical pollutants from human activities continue to endanger Africa’s marine ecosystem. The 2022 SDGs report calls for institutional capacity strengthening to enforce laws and regulations for the sustainable use of marine resources. Life under water is an important source of livelihood for many African countries, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
SDG 15: Life on Land
The report notes that loss of forest cover, biodiversity and land degradation remains high and widespread in Africa. This is mainly due to the deforestation of land for farming and grazing, and climate change. The data shows land degradation affects 46% of Africa’s land and 65% of the population, costing the region US$9.3 billion annually. More public and private partnerships are critical in order to mobilise and channel funding to scale up sustainable management of land, forests and biodiversity towards a green and resilient recovery.
The continent has made little progress in implementing SDG 17, according to the report. Africa’s domestic revenue generation and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows continue to lag behind other regions. Debt management has been challenging for African governments, with debt servicing removing already scarce capital resources from sustainable development. In 2020, the report notes that Africa lost about US$89 billion to illicit financial flows (IFFs).
To advance sustainable development, the report suggests the need to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation and curb illicit financial flows. It also suggests support from international actors to roll out innovative financial instruments such as green and blue bonds, and debt-for-climate swaps.
“We have to do more as a continent for better results. Knowing the challenges we have, it is important that we look inward and find a way to implement home-grown initiatives to tackle challenges. The partnership between AfDB, ECA, AUC and UNDP is a good platform that presents the challenges for our countries to tackle”, noted Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, Secretary General, African Development Bank Group.
To get back on track, Africa needs to foster its domestic resource mobilisation and savings, as well as boost its ICT to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs and the Agenda 2063.
“I am hopeful that findings and recommendations of the 2022 Africa SDGs Report will help member states to take urgent action to accelerate attainment of the SDGs and the agenda 2063”, said Dr Hanan Morsy, Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
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