By Andrew Wachira
Over the past few years, I have been researching and writing articles on sustainable development that Africa needs and now it’s the appropriate time that I get paid for my work. You can’t imagine my excitement when I learned that Wesustain were offering a competition to write about my favorite topic. That being said, have you ever wondered why most people in Africa still live in poverty? Why is the protection of our planet still a global crisis? Or why people don't live in peace and prosperity? What if people could live on a continent without all these barriers? We have 17 Goals which can effectively help us in solving issues such as innovation, peace, and justice, climate change, sustainable consumption, economic inequality, among other priorities. This brings me to the question of why can’t we use the sustainable development goals to tackle all these issues in line with vision 2030 while it’s the only solution for the current social, economic and environmental challenges in Africa. We all have a responsibility and a role to play and make the right choices as soon as possible so we can improve our life now and also secure a good future for our next generations. This paper seeks to identify the social, economic and environmental challenges facing Africa and provides solutions to these challenges by 2030.
Challenges of our Time
Who wants to be poor? No one, right? Extreme and persistent poverty has been the norm for a typical developing country in Africa. This has hindered economic growth and empowerment of affected nations. Other common problems are poor education systems, gender discrimination, unemployment, poor health care systems and access to land. Additionally, there is external dependency where Africa instead of developing, keeps on depending on donors.
Environmental challenges in Africa have been brought about by depletion of fauna, population explosion and lack of access to safe water supply. People are clearing forests to create land for agriculture and settlement without knowledge of the harm they are bringing upon themselves. This has resulted in the daily decrease of forested areas. According to UN atlas, Africa suffers deforestation at a rate of twice that of the world (Doyle, 2008)
Poverty can be alleviated through control of various factors such as agriculture, rural development and water resources, the environment and population control. In agriculture, advancing this sector through innovation and facilitating farmers with resources will boost food security, income, unemployment, and trade. Moreover, agri-manufacturing industries can increase export of quality products that fetch higher revenues e.g. the call for Kenyan farmers to grow avocado for export to China.
In efforts to prevent global warming and protect our continent, there is a need to develop and implement policies for sustainable development of natural resources and energy. Use of technology to provide alternative sources of energy and regulations against the destruction of our environment will go a long way in helping Africa achieve sustainability by 2030.
In other sectors such as health, the priority should be to improve and make available and affordable health for all through schemes such as NHIF, decentralizing referral hospitals plus expertise (e.g.; Cuban Doctors in Kenya). This will eliminate cases of long-distance travel to access health centers, congestions and long deferral periods. Additionally, chronic illness is made more affordable and available such as cancer screening centers. These all gear towards a healthy nation and we all know a healthy nation is a productive nation and serves as a means of the dependable workforce that is able to steer Africa towards realizing sustainability by 2030.
We can all agree that it is not an easy task for Countries in Africa to achieve the SDGs by 2030. There is a need to set strategic policies in major areas such as energy and infrastructure, education, information and communication technology, jobs, agriculture and food security, health and democracy. Additionally, diffusion of new technologies, increased financing for both the private and public sectors and improvement in governance and accountability in all the sectors of the SDGs will facilitate sustainability in the near future. It is evident that every sector has a role to play in creating a sustainable Africa by 2030. I believe innovation is the key to compacting the challenges that our continent face.
Finally, African governments need to set strategies and implement projects needed for achieving the SDGs. There should be planning, monitoring and assessment to identify key sectors progress and rectify any challenges that may arise in the realization of vision 2030 for Africa.
The writer can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org