In 2000 the United Nations adopted what became to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were agreed upon to serve as the global development agenda for the next fifteen years, until 2015. The year 2015 is fast approaching and the question has been what to do after then. Do we develop a new global development agenda? What should be the nature of such a development agenda? Should it consists of the unfinished agenda from the MDGs or should it be entirely different? There is a global consensus that we need another development agenda after the MDGs period has ended in September 2015. As of now, there is an agreement to call the next development agenda the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In preparation of the next global development agenda, the African Union decided to come up with a Common African Position (CAP) on the post-2015 development agenda. As a result of that position, the 22nd Ordinary session of the Assembly of the AU that was held in Addis Ababa on 31 January 2014 adopted the CAP. The CAP was also subsequently launched by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa on 3rd June 2014. The overall objective of the CAP is for Africa to assert itself in promoting continent-driven development initiatives as opposed to externally-driven ones.
There are a number of key messages from the CAP and some are as follows:
The CAP is a clear demonstration of the continent’s resolve to deliver on our various declarations and commitments to sustainably address poverty on the continent. It consists of six pillars, namely structural economic transformation; science, technology and innovation; people-centered development; environmental sustainability; peace and security; and finance and partnership. The CAP also identified key enablers and means of implementation such as good governance, transparency and fighting corruption, an enabling governance structure, human rights for all, prudent macroeconomic policy, private sector development, skills development, and monitoring and evaluation.
The above pillars and enablers are needed to drive Africa’s development vision of building an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven and managed by Africans. Africa now recognizes that sustainable and equitable development can only be guaranteed when people are the means and ends of the economic growth process. There is a commitment to remain focused on pertinent development issues by completing the unfinished MDGs. Reducing inequality across communities and regions in access to basic social and economic services is critical for Africa’s sustainable development.
We are resolved to reverse Africa’s dependence on primary commodities and to create decent jobs and to strengthen resilience to external shocks. For this to happen, Africa needs an accelerated and inclusive economic growth that is underpinned by rapid agricultural productivity, industrialization, value addition and regional integration. This will also require infrastructure transformation in energy, transportation, water and telecommunication.
We must deepen and sustain the improved socio-economic performance of the continent by harnessing science, technology and innovation. This will be achieved by training people, investing in technological innovation, facilitating technology transfer and research and development. We also need to bridge the gap between the skills our educational system produces and those that the private sector needs.
Africa is committed to sustainable development agenda within the context of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. This will include efficient use of our natural resources, investment in climate change mitigation and adaptation, and investing in renewable energy. The continent also needs to strengthen its capacity to anticipate and respond to natural disasters.
African leaders are committed to promoting effective, open and participatory governance at national, regional and international levels. Commitment to good political and economic governance, prudent macro-economic policies, fighting corruption, and improving the mobilization and management of domestic resources is central to Africa’s transformation and development agenda.
Equally, the African leaders acknowledge that to achieve sustainable development, peace and security must be promoted by taking measures to prevent the outbreak of armed conflicts. This can be done effectively only when we address the root causes of armed conflicts, including economic and social inequalities. It is of crucial importance that we ensure basic safety and justice for all, regardless of a person’s economic or social status or political affiliation.
Another key message from the CAP is that Africa’s development priorities need to be financed. To this end we need to develop effective resource mobilization programs and embrace innovative financing mechanisms. Foreign direct investment continue to be an important pillar for financing Africa’s transformation and we need to continue to manage our economies in such a manner that there are sufficient incentives for FDI to flow into our economies.
Finally, it is important that we ensure that the CAP gets implemented. In this regard the African leaders are committed to provide the necessary leadership to ensure implementation. Ultimately, the responsibility for the implementation of the CAP resides with individual African member states. The most effective manner in which to ensure the implementation will be to make the priorities identified in the CAP an integral part of the national planning frameworks of all the member states. In this respect, Namibia is in a fortunate position because all the CAP priorities are already part of our national development agenda.