President Paul Kagame has called on African countries to take advantage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to bridge the gap between the current challenges and their mission to advance by doing the right things in the right way.
Speaking at the launch of the SDG Centre for Africa in Kigali, yesterday, Kagame said that the centre does not only serve as an important focal point for advocacy and coordination but, like the SDGs themselves, it is a tool for achieving results.
The launch was held on the margins of the SDG conference that took place under the theme, “Expediting the Implementation of Africa’s 2030 Agenda Goals.”
He said: “We, therefore, have to ensure that the actions that we take contribute to fundamental change in the lives of people who need it most. Events around the world teach us that both fragility and strength can be found in any country. We all have a role to play and what is really important is cooperation, working closely together to make progress,” he said.
To achieve this, President Kagame said that there was need to draw lessons from the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and collaboration with the private sector.
“We will need to integrate important lessons learned from implementing the MDGs, particularly promoting gender equality and harnessing science and technology. Raising our focus from reducing poverty to building prosperity, we also require closer progression as well as high expectations of the private sector,” he said.
He touched on the issue of SDGs funding which, he said, is possible since it adds up to less than 5 per cent of the estimated cost of investments needed each year to achieve the SDGs.
The Head of State said that the total amount of traditional aid from all donors adds up to less than 5 per cent of the estimated cost of investments needed each year to achieve the SDGs.
That figure, Kagame said, is not going to increase very much, if at all.
“Therefore, as we continue to make use of available development aid, the solution to funding the SDGs has to come from business activity, philanthropy, government and the individual contributions of the world’s billions of citizens,” he said.
The President reminded the participants that Rwanda’s approach has mainly been due to its consultative and participatory approach to politics, attributing the country’s achievements to good politics.
“For Rwanda, a consultative and participatory approach has been indispensable to the modest progress that has been achieved. But we can all do more and better,” he added.
“The SDGs offer a unique opportunity to highlight the importance of good politics and make it more understood as a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable development. Thus, these goals should not be seen as an external agenda but as integrated part of a country’s development vision,” he said.
‘African in a unique time of history’
The Director-General of the SDG Centre for Africa, Dr Belay Begashaw, said that after a period of impressive growth and accomplishments, Africa is at a unique time in history where it is starting to be recognised as a real force.
“Africa, this time around has made an unprecedented move to chart its own path on global issues by establishing its own capacity to support, follow up and guide its citizens’ efforts towards implementing the SDGs. This demonstrates, among others, that African countries are increasingly looking to Africa for solutions to its problems and making a meaningful contribution to the global arena,” he said.
Begashaw called for African intellectuals to play their role by supporting the continent on this journey.
“One group that is not singled out enough as crucial for development is Africa’s intellectuals. Academics are able to influence every area of life, and we count on them to develop new technologies, warn us about and prevent calamities, and conduct life-saving research,” he said.
On his part, Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote, who is co-chair of the SDG/A board, said there was need for African governments and the private sector to take a leading role in policy design and implementation in creating viable public-private partnerships.
“An enabling business environment must be created through appropriate policy and other regulatory frameworks. Innovative solutions must be thought and focus should be on responsible concession and impactful business investment practices,” Dangote said.
He also called for consideration to be given to reducing social economic gaps within and between countries and priority should be given to other SDG related sectors such as renewable energy, health and ICT.
With headquarters in Kigali, the SDG Centre for Africa is an autonomous international organisation that provides technical support, and expertise as input to national governments, private sector, civil society, and academic institutions to accelerate the implementation of the SDG agenda across Africa.