MDGs: Where Does Africa Stand?
With only three years remaining until the 2015 target date for reaching the Millennium Development Goals, Africa’s progress towards the various targets of the MDGs continues to be mixed.
It is gratifying to note that significant advances have been made in some indicators such as net primary enrollment, gender parity in primary education, representation of women in decision making, immunisation coverage, stemming the spread of HIV and AIDS and water supply.
We are, however, concerned with the quality of education as well as the pace of progress towards health-related MDG targets such as child and maternal mortality and access to sanitation.
Reducing inequity in access to basic social services also remains a critical challenge for Africa. These inequities explain, in large measure, the continent’s slow progress in attaining the health MDGs.
The time span left until 2015 for the African continent to achieve the MDGs is fast approaching and there is still no clarity within the development community about the fate of the MDGs post 2015.
Africa would like to see the goals and indicators substantially revised to reflect changing development priorities and performance on the MDGs by a number of developed and developing countries.
The AU wishes to emphasise that in order for Africa to reap the rewards of its increasing population and impressive economic growth, its post MDGs agenda must prioritise:
· building skills for tomorrow's job market
· fostering efficiency and accountability in services
· building social and financial systems for inclusive growth
· mobilisation of domestic resources
· rural development
· bringing together the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development
MDG 1 focused on poverty and hunger. Although many countries are not on track to meet these targets, discussions and evidence has shown that even if these targets were met, they were less ambitious.
The challenge was contained in the fact that they were lumped and lacked disaggregation to ascertain concreteness. The African Union is now advancing discussions on detailed and concrete commitments to advancing agricultural productivity and growth as an instrument and catalyst elimination of hunger and poverty.
The ongoing process of developing and agricultural transformation index will be used an input to this dialogue. This work will build from the progress in advancing the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Development Programme and the focus of raising household incomes as well as food and nutrition security.
As the international development community evaluates the contribution of MDGs and begins to define a post- 2015 global development framework, Africa has already embarked on the process to articulate its common position.
Accordingly, with the mandate given by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the African Union Commission and its specialised technical body, the African Ministerial Council on Water, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the United Nations Development Programme-Regional Bureau for Africa, is in advanced stages of consulting with AU Member States on the post-2015 development agenda.
Some of the issues that were identified as critical enablers of development during our consultation were institutional capacity development, domestic resource mobilisation, participation and ownership at the community, national and global level, social inclusiveness and equality, governance and leadership, peace and security, regional integration and trade, infrastructure development and global co-operation and development.
In addition to the enablers, we reached a consensus that the post-2015 development agenda be led by economic growth, and assessed by indicators of performance in the area of economic transformation, education, technology and human development.
The four collaborating organisations jointly published the 2012 Report on Assessing Progress in Africa toward the MDGs which brings out the outcomes of our consultations as a Thematic Focus.
The report was presented at the joint AU/UNECA Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in March 2012 and consequently to the 19th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in July 2012. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government mandated the African Union Commission, in close consultation with Member States and Regional Economic Communities to identify Africa’s priorities for the post 2015 development agenda in order to consider making 2015-2024 a decade of transformation for Africa with the support of the AfDB, the UNDP, the ECA and all other stakeholders. The Africa process, that provides for regional and continental engagement, has ensured broad participation and contribution of all stakeholders in identifying Africa’s priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.
The Africa process is also taking full advantage of the opportunity of other forums such as the 5thAfrican Private Sector Forum, the Regional Co-ordination Mechanism and the Committee of Directors-General of Statistics meeting that were held in November 2012. to consult the private sector and statisticians on the post 2015 development agenda.
The outcome of the consultations will culminate in an African common position to be presented at the Sixth Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in March 2013 and subsequently to be considered and adopted at the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in May 2013.
The African Union will be presenting the common position to inform the discussion during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in September 2013.
Let me reaffirm Africa’s commitment to our collective efforts to identify the key priority areas that need focus in this regard.
The African Union considers this as one of its key undertakings in the context of marking the 50th Anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union scheduled to be commemorated in May 2013.
The celebrations will provide the opportunity to look at Africa’s achievements registered and challenges faced in the last 50 years, where the continent is currently, where it should be in 50 years’ time, and what it will take to get there.
This will certainly be a good opportunity for all stakeholders to reflect on Africa’s priorities on the post 2015 development agenda. – The African Executive
• Rhoda Peace Tumusiime is Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission.