African leaders propose new financing options for SDGs

Jewel Howard Taylor (L), the Vice President of Liberia, and Belay Begashaw, the SDGs Centre’s director general during the meeting in Kigali on June 13, 2019. / Craish Bahizi

Leaders gathered at the on-going conference in Kigali on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa have proposed fresh options of how to increase funding to education, health, and rain-fed agriculture in order to fast-track development.

The meeting, organised by the Kigali-based SDG Centre for Africa (SDGC/A), is taking place from June 12-14.

On its sidelines, experts at the centre and other leaders from across the world have pitched the idea to set up special funds to support what they termed as the “three critical” sectors in Africa

The sectors are billed to be the main drivers of people’s social welfare on the continent, critical for attaining SDGs by 2030.

Jewel Howard Taylor, the Vice President of Liberia, is among those who are supporting the idea of setting up special funds.

Speaking at the forum on Thursday, she made the case for the need of new financing vehicles for health, education, and rain-fed agriculture.

While a matrix contained in the SDGs gives a laundry list of what is the optimum aspiration, it remains clear that in order to reach that optimum level one must begin at areas most important first for survival, she said.

“I hope you will consider the perspective of the African SDG programme that the survival and prosperity of our people depend, firstly on agreeing that basic needs which should form our priorities are health, education, and agriculture,” she said at the meeting.

She added: “Once this decision is taken, then we can begin considering ways to plan, finance, and implement programmes under these sectors which directly impact and improve the lives of our people”.

The Liberian leader argued that the three sectors have stronger synergies, better trade-offs, and higher correlation with other SDGs.

“These areas are most directly related to SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and wellbeing), and 4 (quality education), and are identified as ‘game changing’ and ‘key levers’ for the rapid development necessary for SDG achievement and African transformation,” she said.

With African leaders currently seeking alternative solutions to meeting National and Continental goals of the SDGs, experts and activists are calling for urgent mechanisms to fund the programme.

A report by the SDG Centre for Africa has identified that African countries will need to raise over $500 billion in additional funding every year if they are to achieve their development goals by 2030.

Belay Begashaw, the centre’s Director General, told delegates at the forum that there isn’t time to waste when it comes to funding the priority areas.

“We said that all SDGs are extremely important but some of them are more important than others when it comes to Africa,” he said.

Experts say that the three special funds would help support investments to improve primary and secondary education, strengthen health systems, and enhance efforts to improve the management of rainwater for agriculture.

Some of the delegates described the idea of setting up special funds as an excellent one if well implemented.

Hiroshi Kato, the Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a major partner for SDGC/A, said that the special funds will need constant input of good policy analysis and stand to benefit from additional funds from donor countries and the private sector.

“I really like the idea of addressing the issues by creating the special funds because they focus on core challenges of the continent,” he said.

Overall, the SDG Centre for Africa estimates that the annual financing deficit of between $500 billion to $1.2 trillion is derailing SDGs implementation in Africa.

In 2015, more than 190 world leaders committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals to help end extreme poverty in the world, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.

They are goals that every citizen and government of the world should work to achieve in order to have a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable global society.