Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha
Africa Industry

Time to close poverty gap in Africa with bold actions, says ECA’s Biha

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, has said Africa was running out of time to ensure the successful implementation of the sustainable development goals and called for bold actions by the continent’s leaders to ensure no one is left behind by development processes.

In closing remarks to the fifth Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development in Marrakesh last week, Biha said ‘time is not our side and the need to close to the poverty gap has never been stronger than now, especially given our growing youthful population’.

She continued: “This is a watershed moment for the continent. Challenges and opportunities present themselves to us in equal measure and we need to rise to the challenge, especially as we implement the SDGs.”

SDGs are a global agenda adopted by countries in 2015 with a vision of ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 17 SDGs and 169 targets are part of the 2030 Agenda which recognizes “that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.”

In adopting the agenda, countries resolved to take “bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”

Biha drew attention to the unprecedented large number of attendees, over 800 hundred participants from 51 countries.

“I trust that this forum has energized all of us to be bold as we return to our various destinations and work places to engage in supporting attainment of the continent’s development agendas so that when we meet again in 2020, we would discuss measurable progress towards the SDGs,” she said.

“Let us move from policies and strategies to implementation and execution. It’s also a call to all governments and their partners to put the means, mobilize and allocate adequate resources in support of these SDGs and Agenda 2063.”

For her part, Morocco’s Secretary of State for Sustainable Development, Nezha El Ouafi, reaffirmed Morocco’s commitment, as the Bureau Chair, towards the progress of the sustainable development goals in Africa.

She said Morocco was pleased to have hosted ARFSD 2019, adding she hoped member States would continue to work together in tackling challenges facing the continent as it implements the global and regional development agendas.

Earlier in the day participants heard reports from parallel sessions discussing Africa’s input to the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on;

•SDG 4 (quality education), which noted the need to include sustainable development in school curricula, and improve educational material and methods for children with special needs;

•SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), which called for recognizing the contribution of the informal sector and further collaboration with private sector in job-targeted training;

•SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), which cautioned against inequalities caused by caste systems that encourage modern forms of slavery, and recommended ensuring hygiene facilities to enhance girl’s school attendance;

•SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), which recommended conflict resolution through dialogue and greater involvement of human rights organizations;

•SDG 13 (climate action), which discussed mobilizing funds for climate-resilient policies; and

•SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), which recommended, in particular, the removal of trade barriers within Africa and the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Delegates also heard recommendations of the First African Science and Technology Innovation (STI) Forum, which convened prior to ARFSD 5, including, providing opportunities for young African innovators; financing research and development; developing STI infrastructure; good governance to ensure fair application of technologies; and scaling up institutional skills.

The Zimbabwe will host the sixth session of the ARFSD in 2020 in Victoria Falls.