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As countries seek to finance their own development in the context of the post-2015 development agenda and against the backdrop of receding donors’ aid, African countries have to be empowered with skills and knowledge to enable the efficient, effective and innovative mobilization of domestic resources. These were the observations made at the 10th edition of African Economic Conference in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Tuesday.
Panelists at the plenary session titled “Operationalizing the SDGs to promote inclusive growth and transformational development in the context of addressing poverty and inequality in Africa,” argued that more efforts are need to minimize leakages in the collection of domestic resources that are needed to facilitate implementation of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
They emphasized that, while the challenge of eradicating poverty with close to 1 billion people still living in extreme poverty is huge, meeting this challenge head-on is achievable as there is enough money in the world including in Africa countries to end poverty and drive sustainable development.
There is a general agreement that development financing for the future should move beyond aid from governments to include private investment and innovative financing.
While African countries are already funding their development from domestic resources, panelists argued that governments have to deal with illicit flows, with companies that do not pay taxes, and contracts in natural resources that are obliging Africa to mobilize more domestic resources.
At least $4 trillion is needed annually to finance SDGs.
“There is a lot of potential to mobilize resources locally,” said Kapil Kapoor, the Director of Strategy and Operational Policies, African Development Bank. Kapoor underscored the need to intensify efforts to mobilize domestic resources to finance SDGs.
Kapoor also emphasized the need to improve accountability by monitoring how the mobilized resources are utilized to enhance efficiency.
He noted the need for a holistic and multi-stakeholder approach to financing that recognizes the roles of all actors, including the domestic public and private sector, transnational corporate actors and development banks.
He specifically pointed out that African Development Bank has committed to play a catalytic role to mobilize funds for the SDGs.
The post-2015 agenda provides a new global framework for countries to better focus, coordinate and integrate their efforts as they work towards sustainable development, while eradicating poverty in all its forms.
The new 17 SDGs are universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN Member States are expected to use to frame their national development plans and policies over the next 15 years. The SDGs follow, and expand on, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2000, and which are due to expire at the end of this year.
“It is a much more ambitious agenda in that it calls for nothing short of eradicating poverty forever. It calls for a more integrated approach in interventions,” said Pedro Conceição, Director, Strategic Policy Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP.
Conceição underscored the need for governments to put in place measures to ensure that more people are lifted out of poverty permanently.
He also pointed out that risks associated with conflict, political instability, falling commodity prices and natural disasters may reverse the gains in poverty eradication if these risks are not mitigated.
“People are thrown back into poverty because of shocks … if we are serious about implementing the agenda, we have to address this,” Conceição said, emphasizing the need to integrate the development agenda to manage the risks better.
He also emphasized the importance of country ownership of the development agenda to facilitate its implementation. This is in addition to raising awareness about the new development agenda.
“This is not a UN agenda, this is agenda that governments signed – it is the agenda of the people, our role is to support it,” Conceição said, pointing out that the UN is ready to assist countries with technical expertise to implement the development agenda.
For her part, Dorothy Gordon, an official from the Ghana–India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in Accra, Ghana, emphasized the need for African governments to increase investments in ICT to facilitate implementation of the SDGs.
Gordon argued that ICTs are cross-cutting enablers for development and critical to the achievement of SDGs. However, challenges such as limited skills and digital literacy have to be addressed to facilitate use of ICTs.
Africa, Gordon argued, has to invest in developing local ICT content as it currently spends a lot of resources on ICT imports.
“Every single unit of currency spent on technology from outside, it is money we are taking away from health and education – we need to think about it,” Gordon said.
While none of the SDGs specifically address ICTs, several targets make references to ICTs and technology.
In his remarks, Abdalla Hamdok, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), called on the continent to refocus its economic development strategies on industrialization, particularly on the means for formulating and implementing effective industrial policy.
He underscored the role of the state as vital to addressing market failures and spurring industrialization – and the need to institutionalize industrial policy in national and regional development strategies at the highest levels of government.