Africa’s challenges must not deter us 

Delegates at the opening of the 10th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-10) discussed the need to find innovative solutions to poverty eradication amid multiple crises.


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These include climate change, economic challenges, peace and security challenges, and health crises. 

Speakers emphasised the fact that the ARFSD-10 provided a golden opportunity to review progress, challenges, and opportunities in implementing both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. 

AU Member States are past the halfway mark to the implementation of Agenda 2030, yet progress on most Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains off track. 

In the opening session, Maizama Abdoulaye, Chair of the outgoing Bureau and Niger’s Minister of Hydraulics, Sanitation and the Environment, said African governments need to speed up measures to combat climate change and promote the green transition. 

The continent also needs to adopt innovative approaches to mobilizing both domestic and external financial resources, he said.   

The speakers in the opening session unanimously decried the inadequacy of the global financial architecture for its failure to meet Africa’s evolving needs. 

Claver Gatete, UN Under-Secretary-General and ECA Executive Secretary, noted that financing options for Africa are currently limited both in domestic and global markets. 

“Borrowing internally crowds out the private sector while borrowing externally exposes countries to exchange rate fluctuations,” he remarked.

“Innovative financing mechanisms coupled with reforms in the global financial architecture can unlock new avenues for sustainable investment and inclusive growth.”

Gatete noted that Africa has an opportunity to reframe the debate on climate change from one of disaster to one of opportunity by focusing on attracting new climate-related investment. 

Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy AU Commission Chairperson, appealed to delegates to treat the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 not just as a policy objective, but a moral duty.

“We find ourselves faced with the formidable challenge of eradicating poverty and reinforcing the 2030 agenda and Agenda 2063, This is not just a goal; it’s a moral imperative, it’s a duty to uplift the millions of our brothers and sisters who live in poverty and deprivation,” she said.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN,  representing the Secretary-General, noted that the high cost of borrowing in Africa was a major impediment to sustainable development. 

Debt servicing is at an all-time high due to external shocks and is squeezing economies dry, leaving little or nothing to invest in sustainable development.

“Total debt service accounted for a staggering 47.5% of government revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa last year, crowding out expenditure on essential services as well as investments in the continent’s future,” she said.

She identified the African Continental Free Trade Area and the single African air transport market as game changers.  

Robinah Nabbanja, Prime Minister of Uganda, welcomed the expanded role that Africa is now playing in global policymaking following the AU’s recent inclusion into the G20. 

 “We must stop being followers in global discussions, but rather innovators and solution providers for many of the African challenges.”