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Africa off track to meet SDGs amid rising poverty – UNECA

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan with agency report

Africa is off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Claver Gatete, said.

He said that although Africa exhibits remarkable resilience against a series of shocks that it has not created.

According to him, Poverty and hunger has been rising over the past five years across the continent amid increasing debt, financial and climate challenges.

“We have seen debt levels increase by over 180 per cent since 2010.

“For Africa as a whole, public debt now amounts to 66 per cent of GDP and high repayment costs are crowding out essential expenditures on health, education and climate action,” Gatete said.

He added that said in spite of a projected growth of 3.5 per cent in 2024, up from 2.8 per cent in 2023, the growth is not high enough for the continent to fulfil the goals of Agenda 2063.

The executive secretary partly linked the limited growth to global shocks, disrupted supply chains, eroded fiscal space and reduced access to finance.

He, however, recalled that the 21 African countries are at high risk of, or in, debt distress.

Gatete also said that only two have their credit ratings in the investment grade and three countries of the continent have already defaulted on their sovereign bonds.

“A lack of concessional borrowing is leaving African governments to decide whether to borrow at national level or borrow externally and deal with the challenges of foreign exchanges and exchange rate fluctuations,” he said.

The executive secretary said the continent needs about three trillion U.S. dollars a year until 2030 in development and financing to reach the SDGs.

He further said that infrastructure and climate change are estimated to cost the continent between 68 billion and 108 billion dollars per year.

Based on the latest data, 476 million people in Africa are projected to live in poverty in 2024, he said, expressing his hope that Africa will generate its own solutions as it has resources demanded globally. 

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