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Nigeria, others need $600m investments to bridge SDGs gap

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•Financial inclusion key to addressing inequality in Africa

For Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), to bridge the infrastructure gaps and achieve United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a yearly investment of about $600 million is urgently required.

All things being equal, the SDGs, about 17 in number, are expected to be met on or before 2030. They include no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities.

Others are responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace and justice strong institutions, and partnerships to achieve the goal.

While the Agenda 2030 applies to all countries, the severity of the challenge is greatest for developing economies, especially in Africa. To reach the goals in these markets, the community of donor agencies and multilateral banks seeks to partner with private capital to leverage and expand investment.

In an interview with The Guardian, Africa Director, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oumar Seydi, at the GoalKeepers Conference, organised by the Foundation, in New York, USA, said the region needs huge financing, cooperation, and determination to achieve the SDGs.

According to him, efforts are still needed to continually move the region forward, saying: “I think for the continent to do well on SDGs, investment of about $600 million yearly is needed to further bridge the gaps. In the countries we operate in Africa, we are not going to sleep; we are working to ensure we get results.

“Fortunately for Nigeria, as we looked at the landscape, it is one of the two countries where we have a dedicated programmer, and a director and a full complement sitting underground, just implementing, which is in addition to the support that we get.”

Meanwhile, the Communications Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Andrew Estrada, said the GoalKeepers, which was conceived by the Foundation, after the launch of the SDGs in 2015, is to provide support for the UN agenda on global development, and subsequently positioned the Foundation for further development initiatives.

Estrada disclosed that earlier this year, as part of the G7 summit in France, Melinda Gates had launched an Africa Digital Financial Inclusion initiative, in partnership with the African Development Bank, and several others.

This, he said, was “to provide a combination of both regulatory advice to aid financial inclusion, and framework that property encourages digital financial inclusion, the tools, the identity systems, the payment systems, other related issues like that.”

According to him, getting some of these things, in Nigeria for instance, “we have been working actively with the Central Bank of Nigeria, providing some technical advice, among others. We helped in leading a delegation of the CBN to meet the officials of Reserve Bank of India, who are somewhere ahead of other countries in the use of payment systems to drive some of these initiatives forward.”Seydi, who for over a decade was the Regional Director, SSA at the International Financial Corporation (IFC) in Nairobi, Kenya, said he looks forward to working with partners in exploring new strategies that will help increase the Foundation’s impact on the continent, especially in the attainment of the SDGs.

“This is a critical time in Africa’s development and I am excited to join an organisation that is committed to supporting African countries in meeting their development goals.“While we work on reducing poverty, ensure gender equality, promote good education, ensure strong institutions, we must also improve on healthcare… And we are a major financier of the Global Fund. The second area is to make sure that children survive and thrive adequately.“The third area is really on empowering the most vulnerable, and they include, especially women, and girls.’’


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