Head of UNDP Africa on the SDGs: the African perspective

Sep 28, 2015

Statement: Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa at the High-level side event on the SDGs: the African Perspective

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1.    What kind of lessons has UNDP learnt from MDG implementation that could help shape Africa’s perspective on SDG implementation?

The MDGs have helped to galvanize debates, actions and partnership for global development more than ever. Over the past 15 years, the world has made notable progress on the goals that were set at the turn of the century. For Africa – a number of countries have achieved the poverty reduction rate (e.g. Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Guinea, Namibia and Swaziland) while some are very close achieving the target (e.g. Senegal and Uganda). There are more children in school with most countries having reached parity in primary school between boys and girls. More women are in national parliaments and significant reductions in HIV infections and deaths. Challenges remain in attaining the others goals (a large number of countries on poverty reduction, child and maternal health, environmental sustainability and global partnerships).

The following factors have contributed to the successes:

o    National Ownership and political will – there have been huge pay offs on the goals, where there has been national ownership and political will to implement effective policies, strategies and programmes for MDG achievement. For instance since launch of the Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) by the African Union in 2009, where heads of State and Government took leadership of the programme, there has been tremendous progress on child and maternal health. If this had been initiated as of 2005, many African countries would have achieved this Goal by 2015.

o    Innovative policies and programmes.  The adoption of strategies and programmes that are countries specific also ram up progress. For example South Africa and Rwanda’s coverage of substantial proportion of the population through multiple social protection systems, Ghana’s school feeding social insurance programmes, Ethiopia’s rural development efforts and Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy scheme that ensured food security and reduction in hunger are good examples. Gender quotas in national parliaments that have seen Rwanda (64%), South Africa (45%), Seychelles (44%), Senegal (43%) and Mozambique (39%) making substantial progress far above the global 30 percent target and Niger’s school for husbands for the improvement of women’s reproductive health family planning and behavioral change towards gender equality.

o    Global Partnerships and Financing – that galvanized action around the MDGs and specific goals. The Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; the Global Environmental Facility on the environment; the Millennium Challenge Account on economic growth and poverty reduction are some examples of effective global partnerships and financing for development.  In addition, local partnerships have also contributed significantly to improving enrolment rates in schools community participation/contributions towards school feeding programmes and parent committees in a number of countries in Africa.

o    Sustained advocacy and monitoring of the MDGs – helped focus efforts and actions on the Millennium Declarations and Goals. The UN Millennium Campaign, national and regional, global reporting of MDG achievements, kept the momentum on MDGs.

The challenges that were faced in implementing the MDGs could serve as lessons for implementing the SDG considering the level of ambition and expansive nature of the SDG agenda. Some of lessons include:

i.    We cannot underestimate the importance of government leadership. The Government must be on the driver seat.  Countries that have done quite well on the MDGs have shown strong coherence and coordination.  Government leadership in setting the trajectory and direction for actions is inviolable. Ensuring policy coherence and strong coordination mechanisms of the SDGs implementation is vital. Given the size of the SDGs, government has a strong role in establishing a critical path for making the global agenda to have national and African appeal. Strategic priorities to drive the SDGs agenda at the national and regional levels are vital. Agenda 2063 has set the tone at the regional level.   

ii.  There is an urgent need to address the weak statistical capacities in Africa: Data are essential for decision-making, crucial for ensuring accountability, vital for monitoring progress on development results and outcomes, and are drivers of social innovation and transformation. The MDG experience has shown the inadequacy of quality data in Africa.  The SDGs are going to be data-intensive and Africa may not have the capacity to measure and report more than 45 percent of the targets in the SDGs. But whoever controls the statistics directs the narratives.  For the continent’s narratives to be shaped and control by Africans, a proactive engagement in building the needed capacity to meet the challenge is an imperative. This calls for our collective efforts in supporting member states in overcoming this challenge. The ongoing effort towards statistical harmonization in Africa is commendable and should be deepened.   

iii. Tackling the financing challenge is key: - The MDGs were heavily dependent on ODA, a financing framework that was not sustainable. Furthermore, the promises of 0.7 GNI to developing world, the additional $50.00 billion ODA per year to Africa by 2010; the Gleneagles commitment pledge by the G8 in 2005, among others were not respected by several donor countries.  This shows that we cannot rely on ODA for the SDGs implementation. Highlight that ODA remains a catalyst for low income countries whose capacity to raise fiscal space to an average of 20 percent mentioned in the AAAA is very limited. Substantial proportion of ODA to low income countries should be used to development institutional capacities for domestic resource mobilization.  

iv.  There is a need to focus more on blended finance with particular focus on domestic resource mobilization.  Promoting domestic resource mobilization across all African countries is not negotiable. The African Economic Outlook, a joint publication by UNDP, AfDB and OECD forecasts that inward FDI and portfolio investments are expected to reach USD 73.5 billion in 2015 – up from USD 13 billion in 2000.  Good news – it is no longer only flowing to the mineral sector in a few countries. Other sectors such as physical infrastructure, ICT and financial services are also benefiting.  Furthermore, remittances have increased six-fold since 2000 and are projected to reach USD 64.6 billion in 2015 in the continent – about USD 10.0 billion more than ODA. The Ethiopian Diaspora Bond is a classic example of how remittances could unleash access to water and electricity, two strategic factors for domestic and industrial use. We also need to encourage impact investment through strong partnership with the private sector.

v.  South-South and Triangular Cooperation is an arbiter of change and transformation that cannot be ignored.  Lessons and experiences on good practices should be documented and shared among African countries to accelerate progress on the SDGs.   
2.    How do you see UNDP supporting SDG implementation at the various levels that you work in going forward?

At the regional level, UNDP Africa has developed a regional programme to support the domestication of the SDGs at the national and regional levels. We ready to work with other partners on this.

 UNDP’s Global, Regional and country presence is a critical element that will be useful for supporting the implementation of SDGs in Africa by pulling in its resources, human and otherwise, to support this ambitious agenda. Leveraging on UNDPs structure, we are helping to foster coherence among development partners to support national development priorities. For instance 26 out of 43 countries that are implementing Delivering as One globally are in Africa – 60 percent of total.  These countries include Botswana, Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia.  In addition, we are also reviewing the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in all countries to be able to capture SDGs of strategic priorities to countries.

UNDP’s global presence is helping to support experience sharing across the global South.  For instance, as a way of rolling out the SDGs, we are supporting a platform for experience sharing between Brazil and Africa on social protection system through the Lula Institute. We are also trying to share good experiences in Africa across developing world. We are ready to use this asset to support the implementation of the SDGs in Africa.   

UNDP, in collaboration with OECD, is using Tax Inspectorate Without Border (TIWB) to deepen domestic resource mobilization, which is vital for the SDGs implementation.  The initiative allows tax audit experts to work alongside local officials of developing country tax administrations to help strengthen tax audit capacities, including issues concerning international tax matters such as mispricing. Kenya, Ghana and Senegal are among countries that benefited from this initiative.

Inform that UNDP considers Raising advocacy and awareness as a critical element for SDG implementation – as such we are restructuring our UN Millennium Campaign to further deepen advocacy for the SDG agenda at the country and regional levels. Substantial work is still needed to raise the needed awareness and advocacy in Africa.

In collaboration with the United Nations Development Group, we are developing a tool for mainstreaming, acceleration, partnership and policy support on the SDGs. UNDP is using this tool to build on the avalanche of lessons and experiences that we have learnt as an institution and development partner in the implementation of the MDGs across countries.  Some of the critical elements of this tool include:

Beyond our policy advice and capacity building – UNDP has established an SDG Fund which has replaced the MDG Fund and will support the achievement of the SDGs in a way that ensures environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and economic development are equally valued.

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