UN, African experts seek review of continent’s growth agenda

AGAINST the backdrop of the alleged inadequacies of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), experts drawn from the United Nations (UN) and Africa, among others, have urged a review of the targets for the continent’s development.

The call was part of the positions of participants yesterday at the beginning of a two-day policy research seminar entitled “Achieving the Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa” in Cape Town, South Africa.

The remarks by Executive Director of Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Dr. Adekeye Adebajo, and Chief Executive Officer, Congolese Institute for Development Research, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Prof. Mbaya Justin Kankwenda, including scholarly presentations by experts on key targets of the MDGs, stressed the need for the review.

According to Kankwenda in his address entitled “Achieving the Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa: Progress, problems and prospects,” the eight targets of MDGs, which include  the elimination of poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating Human Immuno-deficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), malaria and other diseases, achieving environmental sustainability, and global partnership for development, are very commendable for Africa in their drive for social progress.

But he warned against the possibility of realising the goals under existing conditions of globalisation.

He said that “there is no Africa of tomorrow or future for Africa through a United Nations (UN) MDG-based approach that just addresses some singled out social consequences of ongoing strategies, without a clear vision of future, and its implications for states and institutional actors.”

According to him, there is no possible and tangible social progress without true political democracy and strong economic progress, insisting that the last two dimensions are ignored and assumed as part of generalisation of liberal model of democracy and economy.

He aligned with critics who claim that MDGs are pious hopes that commit no one and don’t have a hopeful future for the development of African countries and part of development merchant system (DMS) concept to make economic, financial, political or strategic benefit, stressing that “the UN system is somehow instrumentalised in this process.”

Therefore, he asserted that Africa has “to re-engineer its vision of the future, denounce ongoing dominant DMS strategies and their consequences and re-design its development strategies, counting first on its human, natural and financial resources.”

Other experts like the United Nations (UN) Resident Co-ordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representatives, Dr. Agostinho Zacarias; Co-ordinator of African Union MDGs Team, Mr. Dossina Yeo; Country Representative, United Nations (UN) Women, South Africa, Noncemo Manzini; Executive Director, African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Harare, Zimbabwe, Prof. Sam Moyo; and Director, Mandi Rukuni seminar Group, Dr. Mandivamba Rukuni also addressed the seminar.

Others included National Co-ordinator, Peer Review Mechanism at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abuja, Dr. Afeikhana Jerome, Executive Secretary, Malawi National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Malawi; Executive Director Kheth’Implilo AIDS Free Living, Cape Town; Assistant Scientist, Centre for Global Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States (U.S.); Regional HIV/AIDs and TB Adviser, East and Southern Africa, Columbia Global Centres – Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, Maureen Adudans, Mr. Gamal Nkrumah.

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