A screenshot of the opening session of the 2021 G-PAD/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

G-PAD: Speakers identify main challenges to sustainable development in Africa

Distinguished speakers from different walks of life addressed the 2021 G-PAD Forum on Thursday 25 (November), discussing the issues surrounding sustainable development in Africa.

Among the keynote speakers at the opening of the conference, holding on 24-25 November with the theme ‘Transformative Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Africa’, were Philip Keil, Executive Director, SEZ – Foundation for Development Cooperation, Baden-Württemberg; Khaled Sheriff, Vice President at the Africa Development Bank (AfDB); and Mrs Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Botswana’s Second Ambassador to Germany.

Keil talked about his organisation, its objectives and activities, which are designed to promote global partnership for a better world. He explained that the focus of SEZ’s interventions is to support partner countries in their efforts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

Timi Olanrewaju, Executive Director, Lead Africa International, speaking at the G-PAD Forum 2021 on Thursday/Photo: Lead Africa International

Speaking on the theme of the conference (‘Transformative Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Africa’), Keil said both the Global South and the Global North needed to change for transformative partnership to take place.

“Together we can make a difference in the world,” he said, extolling the importance of international partnerships to tackle common challenges.

READ ALSO G-PAD 2021 to hold fully virtually, Lead Africa International announces

Sherif of the AfDB identified the fundamental challenge facing Africa’s economic development, which is economic growth rate that does not benefit the majority of the populace; hence, 24 countries showing sustainable increase in GDP but stagnating or even decreasing GDP per capita. He blamed the phenomenon on the structure of international trade in which Africa’s exports are in their primary, unprocessed forms. “The value addition takes place elsewhere,” he added.

The development banker said Africa could only tackle poverty by creating quality jobs which is only feasible if more wealth was created in Africa by adding value to its exports at source.

In her own submission, Ambassador Masire-Mwamba backed Sherif’s position that value addition must take place in Africa to bring about more jobs, skills and wealth.

The diplomat said the partnership necessary for sustainable development in Africa was not only between the continent and other parts of the world, but also within African countries.

She mentioned partnership between the public and private sectors, partnership with social groups, such as the youth and the diaspora.

Prof PLO Lumumba, renowned Kenyan intellectual and founder of the PLO Lumumba Foundation, and other distinguished speakers promise a robust discussion at GPAD Forum on Friday, 26 November/Photo: PLO Lumumba Foundation

Ms Masire-Mwamba called on African countries to show a greater appreciation of their diaspora populations, who are making enormous contributions to the economic development of the continent.

The ambassador also warned against partnerships that position Africa at the receiving end which insinuates a senior-junior relationship.

“A partnership where every partner brings something to the party is the transformative partnership we are looking for,” she added.

Martha Wangari Karua, a former member of the Kenyan Parliament and former Minister for Water & Development, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shows again and vividly the importance of global unity. She appealed to wealthier countries to address what she described as vaccine inequality.

Ms Karua, who is also a former Minister for Justice & Constitutional Affairs, said international companies should stop engaging in unethical practices in Africa which shortchange the continent, calling for fairer global rules that should enable African countries to profit more from their resources.

Karua ended her submission by appealing to Africa to rise to the challenges of governance. A point also made by Ifeanyi F. Ogochuckwu, Chief Technology Strategist, Debbie Mishael Group, South Africa, who said Africa must address its leadership challenges, which he said is the main cause of poor governance in the continent.

“Ease of doing business is a big issue in Africa,” he noted. “Right policies are not in place to enable us thrive.”

Citing collective agreements that are yet to be signed by most member nations of the African Union, Ogochukwu said before Africa seeks global partnership it should be able to partner with itself.

The tone of Ogochukwu’s intervention was accentuated by Kenny Folarin, a strategist leadership expert, who asked Africans to squarely face the main drawbacks of development in their continent.

The Nigerian expert described crime, insecurity, chaotic politics, lack of rule of law and lack of respect for human life as the hindrances to the development of African countries even though they are abundantly blessed with minerals and fertile soil and a burgeoning youth population.

Folarin called for an inward approach in charting the way forward, which not only requires far-reaching reforms of critical sectors of public life but change of attitude of the people.

The first day of 2021 G-PAD, ably moderated by Faith Miyandazi and taking place fully virtually, did not disappoint given the quality of the keynote addresses and the discussions that they provoked.

Tomorrow’s session will be addressed by among others, Prof Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, renowned Kenyan intellectual and founder of the PLO Lumumba Foundation; Stefan Schott of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Africa Office; Taiwo Oyedele, Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader PricewaterhouseCoopers; Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Fellow Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany; Brighton Kaoma, Global Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development, Solutions Network- Youth Initiative.

G-PAD Forum, an annual conference, was created by Lead Africa International, a global non-governmental organization dealing with development issues, “to promote shared knowledge of development policies that impact Africans and people of African descent and facilitate effective global partnerships towards achieving sustainable development in Africa”.

Femi Awoniyi

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