MDGs to Agenda 2063/SDGs Transition Report 2016: 2016Towards an integrated and coherent approach to sustainable development in Africa

The year 2016 marked a transition period from the Millennium Development Goals to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the continental level, African countries are also transitioning from the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to Agenda 2063, a development framework that seeks to expedite the transformation of the continent. This year’s report reviews the continent’s performance on the MDGs and assesses the opportunities and challenges associated with the transition to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several African countries are on track to meet the poverty target but the number of people in extreme poverty is growing By the year 2012 the continent as a whole had not met the MDG target of halving extreme poverty by 2015. Nevertheless, 19 African countries met or were on track to meet the extreme poverty target by 2012. Seven out of the 19 countries - Botswana, Egypt, Guinea, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Tunisia – had already met or surpassed the target, while an additional 12 countries were on track to reach their poverty targets. The overall decline in poverty was largely due to improvements in the business and macroeconomic environment coupled with high commodity prices. However, there are more people in poverty now than in the baseline year of 1990: in 1990 280 million Africans were classified as extremely poor, but by 2012 this number had risen to 389 million on account of the failure of income growth to keep pace with rising population growth. Substantial progress has been made in reducing hunger Despite the persistent high levels of hunger in Africa, significant progress has been made in all subregions with the exception of North Africa where rates are moderate but have not changed much since 1990. Although none of the subregions had met the hunger target by 2015, substantial efforts have been made towards the target particularly in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, which experienced reductions of at least 20 per cent. By the end of 2015, both subregions were close to meeting the hunger target, falling short by 6 and 4 percentage points respectively. The ongoing conflicts in Central Africa and unfavourable weather conditions such as droughts and flooding in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa continue to exert pressure on food security and nutrition in the regions where hunger levels are highest in Africa. Access to primary education continues to improve yet the quality of education remains weak Even though not all African countries met the universal primary education target in 2015, tremendous progress has been made over the MDG period. Of the group of 40 African countries with data in 2013, 18 have achieved net enrolments of over 90 per cent. Meanwhile, the percentage of countries that have recorded 80 per cent of net enrolment has increased from 31.4 per cent in 2000 to 70 per cent in 2015. Notwithstanding these improvements, retention rates remain relatively low and African countries perform below par in international assessments. Steady but slow improvements in Africa’s literacy rate Africa has experienced a steady but slow rate of reduction in the illiteracy rate. By 2012, 14 per cent of the 49 African countries with data had achieved universal literacy compared to only 7 per cent in 2000. Furthermore, 11 per cent of African countries had a youth literacy rate of 50 per cent or less compared to 9 per cent in 2012. Progress can be attributed to the spillover effects of unprecedented public investments in primary education, the development and implementation of national policy frameworks conducive to the expansion of access to education opportunities especially for girls and children living in poor communities, and the mobilization of civil society and the international donor community. On the other hand, 51 per cent of African countries with data are still far from reaching the youth literacy target owing in part to chronic shortages of facilities and teachers, inappropriate mechanisms for evaluation and quality assurance and fragmented approaches to the implementation of literacy programmes. Gender parity declines with transitions to higher levels of schooling The continent is close to achieving gender parity at the primary level. In the 1990s, there were on average 86 girls for every 100 boys enrolled. By 2013, there were 96 girls for every 100 boys. East, North and Southern Africa remained consistently above the African average. Significant progress was also registered at the secondary level. The participation of girls improved from 71 girls per 100 boys in the 1990s to 90 girls per 100 boys in 2013, with Southern African countries performing above the African average, owing to the greater availability of work opportunities for boys than girls in mining and industry sectors, which require only limited education. On average, parity levels are much lower at the tertiary level (68 percent) than at the secondary (86 per cent) level. Despite significant investments in girls, socioeconomic factors, cultural and religious practices still negatively impact enrolment and completion levels. Parents still prioritize education for boys at secondary and tertiary levels in some countries, while the lack of sanitary facilities and the prevalence of early marriages and early childbirth impede sustained participation of girls in education. Robust representation of women in national parliaments across the continent Africa has made significant progress in promoting the active participation of women in public affairs, even though it did not meet the MDG target. On average, the representation of women in national parliaments has almost tripled, rising steadily from 8 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2015. Rigorous implementation of gender-sensitive constitutional quotas has been key to increasing the representation of women in national parliaments in Africa. Unprecedented declines in child mortality The Africa region witnessed unprecedented declines in child mortality during the period 1990-2015. The under-five mortality rate in Africa excluding North Africa declined from 180 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 83 per 1,000 in 2015, with the greatest decline occurring in the period 2000-2010. The decline was more pronounced in North Africa, from 73 per 1,000 in 1990 to 24 per 1,000 in 2015. Similarly, infant mortality rates showed steep reductions in both North Africa and Africa excluding North Africa, over the same period. Rising coverage of childhood immunization, decreases in malaria-related mortality as a result of more effective prevention programmes, greater access to treatment for acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea, and the deployment of community health workers in rural areas have been key factors accounting for the steep declines in child mortality in Africa. Nevertheless, Africa still carries the largest burden of child mortality globally and the pace of decline in Africa, excluding North Africa, has been slower than that in other regions. Rapid decline from high levels of maternal deaths All African countries reduced their MMR between 1990 and 2015 except Zimbabwe and South Africa. Three countries (Cabo Verde, Rwanda and Libya) have already achieved the target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 while 15 countries have reduced MMR by more than 50 per cent.On the other hand, Zimbabwe and South Africa reported an increase in MMR during the same period attributed largely to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite the progress made so far, MMR is still high in several African countries. Nineteen African countries had MMR above 500 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. Skilled care during childbirth and access to emergency obstetric care, when required, are the two most critical interventions needed to ensure safe motherhood. While Africa has registered substantial progress in increasing the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel (from 45 per cent to 71 per cent between 1990 and 2014) the proportion remains low by global standards. Accelerated decline in the incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS The incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDs in Africa declined faster over the one-year period of 2012- 2013 than over the 11-year period of 2001-2012 combined, thanks to improved condom use and access to anti-retroviral therapy. In Africa excluding North Africa, the decrease in incidence was 6.45 per cent in the period 2012-2013 against 4.95 per cent over the period 2001-2012. The corresponding figures for prevalence were 2.22 per cent and 1.91 per cent respectively. North Africa recorded no change; the incidence and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS remained low and constant at 0.01 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively throughout the years. Low but steady rise in carbon emissions Africa’s carbon dioxide emissions continue to be negligible compared to the rest of the world; however, more than half of African countries experienced an increase in their CO2 emissions, with the exception of some countries including Libya and Gabon that made notable strides in decreasing their emissions. Furthermore, Africa has been successful in reducing consumption of ozone-depleting-substances and complying with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Credible commitment to protect Africa’s terrestrial and marine areas Over 50 per cent of African countries had achieved by 2014 the target of having at least 10 per cent of their territorial and marine areas protected, compared to 33 per cent of countries in 2000. The percentage of terrestrial and marine areas protected in Africa excluding North Africa increased from 7.1 per cent in 1990 to 11.1 per cent in 2014. Slow progress in improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation The proportion of rural and urban dwellers with access to improved drinking water sources in Africa excluding North Africa increased substantially from 48 to 68 per cent between 1990 and 2015. This is however below the target of 76 per cent.The gains were more substantial at the rural level even though urban access is much higher. Virtually all African countries experienced improvements on this indicator with 13 registering coverage of 90 per cent or more. Access to sanitation facilities in Africa excluding North Africa increased only modestly, from 24 per cent in 1990 to 30 per cent in 2015. As a result, in line with the global trend Africa will not meet the sanitation target of 66 per cent coverage. On a positive note, North Africa was one of the few regions that met the sanitation target. Declining share of global trade Recent trends in Africa’s trade show that the share of Africa’s exports in global merchandise exports declined from 3.3 per cent in 2013 to 3.0 per cent in 2014 partly as a result of unfavourable movements in global commodity prices. The latter have fallen by more than 60 per cent since the second half of 2014, to well below their level in the 2008 global financial crisis. The unfavourable terms of trade have a significant impact on investment and economic growth, since many African countries’ trade is heavily concentrated on natural resources, which account for two-thirds of the continent’s merchandise exports. Continued aid dependence despite declining ODA Net ODA disbursements from OECD/DAC countries to the continent of Africa have constantly increased in volume, from 10.4 billion in 2000 to 29.2 billion in 2014, over the MDG period and the continent’s regional share has been maintained within the range of 34 to 49 per cent (43 per cent on average). However, measured in terms of African country programmable aid (CPA), the level of the ODA to Africa in 2014 fell substantially short of commitments, by 8.1 per cent to $45.9 billion from $49.9 billion in 2013 at 2013 prices. Much of this decrease can be attributed to a significant drop-off in aid to top recipient countries such as Kenya and Tanzania. Rising debt pressure Heavily supported by global debt relief initiatives, most developing countries, including those in Africa, have consistently reduced the debt-service-toexport- revenue ratio by approximately 15 percentage points over the MDG period. However, recent figures suggest an increase in the debt-service-to-exportrevenue ratio since 2011. This ratio is likely to rise in the light of a fragile global and regional outlook, limited structural change and inadequate debt management capacity. The growing concern about debt sustainability points to the fundamental issue of how to ensure a fair mechanism to address future sovereign debt crises. Upsurge in access to mobile telephones not matched by Internet access The number of mobile-cellular subscriptions has grown exponentially and now 80 per cent of the African population use a mobile phone. On the other hand, 84 per cent of African people are not currently linked to a global network of content and application, while more than half of the world’s population are connected to the Internet. This situation is partly the result of Africa’s excessive reliance on satellites and very small aperture terminal (VSAT) earth stations for connectivity. In particular, high cost remains the main barrier to improved internet use in Africa; the price for 100 kilobytes per second in Africa is the highest in the world. Africa’s dual transition to the SDGs and Agenda 2063 requires an integrated results framework In 2015, the AU Heads of State and Government adopted Agenda 2063, a strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global framework for achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions – economic, social and environmental – in a balanced manner. The two landmark events signal a two-pronged transition: a global-level transition from the MDGs to Agenda 2030 and a continent-level transition from NEPAD to Agenda 2063. Both Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 are comprehensive, underpinned by an extensive consultation process, and share common aspirations of structural transformation and sustainable development. However, the two Agendas are not identical. Implementing both of them will require effective messaging about their content, coherent integration of both of them into national planning frameworks and an integrated results framework for follow-up. Institutional arrangements for implementation must be anchored by strong coordination mechanisms In the past, African governments have taken a sequential approach to sustainable development, adopting a “develop first and address sustainability issues later” philosophy. However, Rio+20 reiterated that sustainable development goals require an integrated approach that simultaneously addresses economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability in a balanced way. An integrated approach to implementation implies breaking institutional silos and strengthening sectoral (horizontal) and subnational (vertical) coordination across implementing entities. The institutional arrangements of eight African countries highlighted in this report (Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Botswana) provide lessons for other African countries.

Issue Date:
May 02 2016
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 Record created 2018-02-01, last modified 2018-02-02

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