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African Leaders Looking to Implement Innovative Policies Following UN Summit

School_children_(Lukhanyo_Primary_School,_Zwelihle_Township_(Hermanus,_South_Africa)_02When African leaders return home after this month’s UN summit in New York, they must be ready to implement innovative policies, seek fresh financing and beef up their data if they hope to build on progress made over the past 15 years and turn the sustainable development goals into reality, according to a new report.

Assessing African countries’ progress in implementing the millennium development goals, the report hailed “impressive gains” on enrolment in primary schools, women’s political representation, reducing child and maternal deaths, and cutting the prevalence of HIV and Aids.

Ayodele Odusola, chief economist at the UN Development Programme’s regional bureau for Africa, said that although the region had missed many MDG targets, absolute progress had been one of the best in the world given difficult initial conditions.

“The adoption of the MDGs galvanised action and development work in the continent, and as a result you see a kind of harmony across policy actions … Without the MDGs, it would have been pretty difficult for us to move in this trajectory,” he said, noting that although poverty across the region, excluding North Africa, had only fallen from 56.5% to 48.4% between 1990 and 2010, success in individual countries had been greater.

Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Guinea, Swaziland and Namibia had managed to cut poverty rates by more than 50% since 1990, while Senegal, Uganda, Mauritania, Ghana, Niger, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Mali had cut poverty by around 40%, Odusola said.

But if African countries wanted to move forward on the much-broader SDG agenda, Odusola said, they would have to prioritise.

“We need to focus on the issue of managing trade-offs because there are so many goals and they may not be moving in the same direction. You want to create jobs, address exclusion and poverty. You have to make sure when you are implementing your green growth strategy that those people who are likely to be left behind are effectively taken care of,” he said.

The report was compiled by the African Union Commission, the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the UNDP’s Africa bureau, and sought to highlight innovative and successful policies from the MDG era in order to inform action over the next 15 years.


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