Africa growth not aligned with goals – AUC

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Addis Ababa – Despite a high regional economic development, the growth performance of most African countries failed to reflect on their overall Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) index, African Union Commission deputy chairperson, Erastus Mwencha, said on Tuesday.

Speaking to SAnews in Addis Ababa, ahead of the upcoming AU Summit there, Mwencha recognised that while the continent’s growth strategy, as adopted by the AU, addressed all the eight MDGs, most countries still found it difficult to move on their goals and mostly were unlikely to meet the United Nations deadline of 2015.

“We see this as a challenge, whereas countries are growing but we can’t find this in the MDG index,” said Mwencha.

According to the UN, several sub-Saharan African countries, will not meet their MDGs unless they create a positive political environment. But the world body had been criticised in the past for emphasising the failure of sub-Saharan Africa compared to other regions.

Critics have argued that measuring social and economic progress was not at all as straightforward as the discussion of the MDGs makes it seem.

South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy, has said it was on course with the implementation of the goals, further acknowledging that although work was in progress, challenges existed and there was room for improvement.

The latest country report shows that the foundation of the country’s constitutional trajectory and development mandate explicitly takes the MDGs into account. Government has further integrated the MDGs into its Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2009-2014, translating the country’s five priorities into 10 strategic priorities for government.

MDGs were adopted by world leaders at the turn of the millennium and were to be achieved by 2015. The goals provide tangible, numerical targets for tackling extreme poverty, poor health and education as well as under development.

Mwencha was quick to emphasise that in spite of African countries struggling to meet these UN goals, nobody could ignore the fact that the continent remained the fastest growing region with seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies being African.

“It’s true that some African countries are achieving the MDGs, others are partially achieving while others may not achieve but Africa is achieving the highest growth rate. This is partly due to what Africa has done correctly in the past 10 years and because of what has happened in emerging economies like China Brazil and India, and also the demand for our raw materials.”

He said the affected countries still had an opportunity to develop plans to meet their goals in the next three years.

“We need to look at how do we address the problem of youth unemployment, the problem of poverty; we need to look thoroughly into instruments that can address all of this and part of the solution would be to increase the intake in universities.”

Mwencha also suggested that boosting intra-Africa trade, the theme for this year’s AU summit, could help increase the pace of development in poorer countries because trading with each other would mean bigger markets and more employments.

“It means people will have more money in their pockets. It means people will have water, sanitation and good health, things that are being demanded in the MDGs.”

Source: SA News – Chris Bathembu – Press Release – 11 July 2012