Kagame calls for renewed focus to achieve SDGs

President Kagame in a group photo with other continental leaders during the conference on the implementation of the SDGs in Africa held in Kigali yesterday. The conference brought together about 2000 people to discuss the SDGs journey across Africa in the last three years. Village Urugwiro.

President Paul Kagame has urged African countries to renew their commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), indicating that ownership by Africans to deal with challenges to implement the goals will be crucial going forward.

The Head of State delivered the message on Friday while speaking at a conference in Kigali on the implementation of the SDGs in Africa.

The meeting, which was organised by the Kigali-based SDG Centre for Africa (SDGC/A) and took place from Wednesday to Friday this week in Kigali, has brought together about 2000 people to discuss the SDGs journey across Africa in the last three years.

Delegates follow a session during the SDG Centre for Africa conference at Kigali Convention Centre yesterday. Village Urugwiro.

Delivering a speech to launch a three-year SDGs implementation report by the centre, Kagame emphasised that current challenges in implementing the goals shouldn’t stop Africans from keeping both the dream and the progress towards the goals.

“In my view, it is preferable for Africa to aim high, even if it takes longer to get there, than to aim low and congratulate ourselves for doing the minimum. So long as we in Africa understand that it really is within our power to achieve these goals, we are going to be fine,” he said.

He added: “But it will not happen by accident. We have to do the right things and find the money to pay for it, including investing in strong national statistics agencies”.

On the issue of the SDG financing gap in Africa, which the SDG Centre for Africa has estimated between $500billion and $1.2trillion per year, Kagame said that Africans need to own the challenge and harness ways to fund the gap.

“Speeding up progress toward the SDGs is first and foremost our problem and responsibility as Africans. We live in an interdependent world and we work closely with partners but the political leadership on this topic has to be heard most strongly from African voices,” he said.

Noting that Africa’s resources remain considerable if well tapped into and managed, the president insisted that Africans have to pay as much as possible the required resources to fund the SDGs instead of hoping that aid from developed countries will be of a bigger help.

With the SDG Centre for Africa having indicated that remittances from the African diaspora are now the largest source of external income for the continent, the president said that Africans remain the best source of funding for African challenges.

“We lack nothing in Africa except a sense of urgency,” he said.

He lauded the idea pitched by the SDG Centre for Africa to set up special African funds for education, water for agriculture, and health.

“This is an opportunity to work with Africa’s partners in new and better ways to deliver human-scale projects that directly touch the lives of farmers, families, and school children,” he said.

The three sectors for which special funds are sought 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, also spoke at the SDGs meeting concluded in Kigali on Friday in support of setting up special funding mechanisms for the three sectors.

“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.

Kagame, who is also the Chairperson of the Founding Board of SDGC/A, said that with the implementation time for SDGs being already at one-quarter on the way to 2030, Africa still stands a chance to make up for lost time but needs to move faster.

“As we prepare for the SDG review summit later this year in New York, our goal should be to bring new energy and focus to the process. The work of SDG Centre for Africa and the deliberations at this conference are critically important in that regard,” he told delegates at the forum on Friday.

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.