President Paul Kagame and his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have underlined what is needed for developing countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Speaking yesterday at the ongoing high-level Africa roundtable on SDGs in Ghana’s capital Accra, President Kagame said that there is room for everyone’s commitment, right from private to public sector players, for the development goals to be achieved.
“We need to involve everyone. We have all made commitments and statements of understanding on what needs to be done and we need to follow these up with actions. It can be done and we have seen it being done. We need to accelerate what we are all doing,” Kagame said.
The President observed that there is a shared gap in African leadership that hinders growth in SDGs and argued that its high time leaders took charge of African problems and seek solutions without necessarily relying on external influence.
“It all starts with ownership and we have to take charge of our own problems. We have partners and friends that are willing to help, but we must not accept that they do everything for us,” he said.
On his part, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said that as African leaders attempt to confront challenges facing their respective countries and Africa at large, there are “great prospects” in using SDGs to open up for all citizens, “and do so in away that leave no one behind.”
The two-day meeting is hosted by President Akufo-Addo, who who is the co-chair of the Eminent Group of Advocates, along with Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.
Public-private partnerships key
Speaking at the initial opening session of a high-level Africa roundtable on SDGs, held under the theme “Mobilising Support and Accelerating growth of SDGs”, President Kagame noted that developing countries need to embrace public-private partnerships if the world is to achieve the global transformational agenda.
Kagame said that for the SDGs to fully fit into poverty eradication plans for most developing countries, strong collaboration between governments and the private sectors is critical.
He said that once this aspect is well exploited, nations would easily reach the new targets and transform the lives of people.
“There are two main aspects of the SDGs that constitute an improvement from our experience with the MDGs,” Kagame said.
“First is the strong emphasis on the private sector as an engine to eliminate poverty and create wealth, objectives that are at the heart of most of our national plans.”
The SDGs are a comprehensive set of 17 goals which seek to go beyond the past accomplishments of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to create a sustainable world by 2030.
The goals were officially adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at the UN General Assembly.
“Integrating the SDGs into these plans and ensuring their implementation cannot be successfully achieved by government alone. This is why strong collaboration with the private sector is critical for reaching a win-win situation,” Kagame said.
The financing gaps for major projects, Kagame noted, can be filled by private sector investment through appropriate de-risking mechanisms provided by the public sector and other partners.
The President also observed that SDGs are rather an “ambitious framework”, hence global partnerships between developing and developed countries would go a long way in bridging the gap to address the issues for which the development agenda was devised.
“We have an ambitious development framework to engage all countries rather than just developing ones, especially knowing that there are cross-cutting issues that affect everyone.
“This provides new scope for productive global partnerships and learning. This could include reaching consensus on how to measure progress and support implementation in ways that are most relevant for our respective national contexts,” the Head of State added.
Following the opening the session, President Kagame participated in the Presidential panel discussion on “What would it take for SDGs to happen: The role of leadership”, along with his host, President Akufo-Addo. As part of his intervention, President Kagame spoke about the causes of the collective gaps in African leadership, in regards to achieving SDGs. “The continent needs to work together to mobilise resources, especially financial resources and people. Each country also needs its own champions to build consensus and drive results. They should be inclusive of private sector, women and young people represented.”
Speaking on the conversation around aid, President Kagame said: “I don’t think that people have dismissed aid as not necessary, conversations have been around the fact that aid is not enough.
‘‘The conversation on how we use aid to build capacity or for investment, I think is a fair conversation.”
Joining the Presidents on the panel were; Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission chairperson; Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University and UN SDGs Eminent Advocate; Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate, UN SDGs Advocate and Director; and Dr Alaa Murabit, the voice of Libyan Women on UN SDGs Advocate.