President Paul Kagame believes that despite the Covid-19 impact, Africa still has a chance to rebound and get back on track towards meeting some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 targets.
With the African continent already expected to fall short of meeting the set targets even before the pandemic, President Kagame says there is an opportunity to build on what had already been achieved and the silver lining presented by the outbreak to build back and better.
The Head of State made the observation on Thursday at the 8th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2022), which opened in Kigali, organised in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
He pointed out that over the years, Africa has made significant progress to tackle socio-economic challenges but the Covid pandemic has slowed development gains, and in some cases reversed that progress that had been made over time.
“But we have to look for that silver lining in this crisis. Through our response, we can build an Africa that is greener and more resilient, with the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 as our blueprint,” President Kagame said.
“The truth is that we were off-track in achieving these targets even before the pandemic in some cases,” he said, adding that instead of being a setback, pandemic response and recovery can be used as a springboard to speed up progress, and innovate smarter ways to invest in human capital development.
3 Things Africa Needs To Do
President Kagame highlighted three things the continent has to do if it must get back on track, among other things, mobilisation of domestic resources to finance some of the emergencies and crises the continent faces without waiting for help.
“Africa must build mutually beneficial partnerships to strengthen its capacity to manufacture vaccines and pharmaceuticals,” he said, adding that UNECA has been working closely with continental bodies in the context of operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He pointed out that Africa CDC and AUDA-NEPAD have jointly led the way on the need for the African Medicines Agency, which has now come into force while at the same time Africa CDC brought together key stakeholders in the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing last year.
President Kagame praised the initiative which he said laid the groundwork for BioNTech’s commitment to produce mRNA vaccines end-to-end in Ghana, Senegal, and Rwanda, starting later this year.
“Africa should prioritize domestic resource mobilization to finance its development, particular for national health systems,”
“Progress has already been made for domestic health financing on our continent, and we should build on this momentum,” he observed.
In a bid to support Africa’s green growth, President Kagame said that the AfCFTA should be used to promote the adoption of sustainable technologies and infrastructure.
At the same time, he said that to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063, the goals need to be integrated in the national planning frameworks for the respective countries and this has to be a deliberate effort.
He said that it is essential for the continent to have strong mechanisms to monitor progress, and quickly adjust implementation.
“Building the Africa we want is up to us. We have to own and lead the process, and support one another. That is why these two development agendas are so important,”
“It is about ensuring the stability and prosperity of our continent, so that our young people can have the future they deserve.
President Kagame paid tribute to the UN Deputy Secretary General, Dr. Amina J. Mohammed and the ECA Executive Secretary Dr. Vera Songwe for their relentless efforts to drive the continental development agenda.