Africa reports "quite strong” progress on development goals despite pandemic

By Ronda Naidu

Africa reports "quite strong” progress on development goals despite pandemic

Africa has pressed ahead with its plans to become a leading international player, making significant progress on its pan-African Agenda 2063 despite the devastating effects of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. A recent report on the implementation of the Agenda shows that the development goals set for 2021 were fulfilled at a level of 51%. The performance was “quite strong and evidently better” than in 2019 when the score recorded was 32%, the document outlined.

Ratified in 2013 by all African heads of state, Agenda 2063 is Africa’s plan to achieve the vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful continent, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena within the 50-year period between 2013 and 2063. There is over a 90% convergence between the Sustainable Development Goals and the technical goals of Agenda 2063 as specified by the Organization of the African Union, a continental body whose members represent all 55 African countries.

Africa’s aspirations

Agenda 2063 provides for seven aspirational goals that are intended to transform Africa into a leading powerhouse:

  1. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
  2. An integrated continent politically united based on the ideals of pan Africanism and the vision of Africa’s renaissance
  3. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice
    and the rule of law
  4. A peaceful and secure Africa
  5. An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values, and ethics
  6. An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children
  7. Africa as a strong, united, resilient, and influential global player and partner

Continental progress

The Second Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 was released in February 2022 by the African Union Development Agency. It found that the continent showed a positive upward trend in respect of all seven aspirations, performing better than it did in 2019, despite the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, progress varied across regions. East Africa recorded the highest performance with an aggregate score of 53% against the 2021 targets, followed by Southern Africa with 50%, West Africa at 45%, Central Africa 42%, and North Africa at 39%.

Source: Second Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 

Africa made the strongest progress – 84% – in terms of the political integration of the continent (aspiration 2). This was mainly due to the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which came into effect on 1 January 2021, and the establishment and operationalization of a well-functioning AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana. Improvements in road networks, air transport, electrification, and ICT also contributed to the score.

Aspiration 6 (people-driven development) ranked second with 67%. The report noted that the continent registered “a slight increase in the proportion of women in the agricultural population who have ownership or secure rights over agricultural land [from 16% in 2013 to 23% in 2021], as well the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments, regional and local bodies [from 21% in 2013 to 27.6%]”. Conversely, the report pointed out that Africa had failed to meet youth-related performance indicators, registering only a minimal reduction in youth unemployment rates, from 18.4% in 2013 to 17.6% in 2021, and an increase in the rates of child labour from 15% in 2013 to 23% in 2021 and children marriage from, 8% in 2013 to 18% in 2021.

With an overall performance of 63%, aspiration 4 – a peaceful and secure Africa – came third in terms of the degree of fulfillment. Despite this high score, the results varied across countries.

“The data received from the Member States indicates a significant decline in the number of deaths emanating from armed conflict and from religious and ethnic disagreement and intolerance,” reads the report.

Aspiration 7 (a strong and influential global partner) achieved 58% fulfillment with positive data on the proportion of public sector budget funded by national capital markets as well as the proportion of official development assistance (ODA) in national budgets. This was juxtaposed by the continent not meeting its 2021 target of increasing total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP.

It is with regard to aspiration 5 (strong cultural identity with common heritage) that the continent falls to a low rating of 45%, largely due to the “weak integration of indigenous African culture, values, and language into primary and secondary school curricula”.

Although most member states reported progress in promoting good governance, democratic values, and practices, including the domestication of the African Charter on Democracy, Election, and Governance, the overall result for aspiration 3 was 42%. This can be attributed to low scores for capable institutions and transformed leadership at all levels.

An even lower rating of 37% is recorded against aspiration 1 (a prosperous, sustainably developing Africa), mainly due to a decrease in GDP per capita from US$3,170 in 2019 to US$2,910 in 2021 and high employment rates. According to the report, however, commendable progress had been made in access to electricity and the internet, gains in health-related goals including increased access to sexual and reproductive health services, and reduced maternal mortality.

To secure the achievement of aspirations provided for by Agenda 2063, the bodies in charge have devised five ten-year implementation plans with the first to be completed by 2023. The report’s authors praised Africa for its “unwavering resolve” towards meeting the vision of Agenda 2063. Yet, they warned that “despite the remarkable progress made by African countries in implementing the First Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, the continent with the current trend, will not be able to achieve some of the targets of the First Ten Year Implementation Plan by 2023”.

See also: Africa is halfway towards achieving SDGs, report