AU Agenda 2063, Lessons For Nigeria, Others
ACCORDING to the African Union (AU), Agenda 2063 is aimed at encouraging discussion among all stakeholders. On how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically explore all possible opportunities in the short, medium and long term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, told the African Finance, Planning and Economic Development ministers meeting in Addis Ababa last week, that the first priority of the AU’s Agenda 2063 would be investments on human capital for Africa, which she said include education, health, water, sanitation and nutrition. They met under the aegis of the Eighth Joint annual meetings of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee of Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration and the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The meeting agreed on the first 10-year plan for implementation of Agenda 2063, which will be adopted by the next AU summit in June.
It is also expected to craft Africa’s common position on the 2015 post-development agenda. The Commission Chair said a range of sectors have already been identified with the potential for diversification, growth and industrialization, from the agro-food processing sector, to services including transport, financial services, ICT as well as the mining and energy sectors. Infrastructure backlogs, unless tackled decisively, she stressed, would continue to be a major drag on the continents’ growth. She noted in particular that the public infrastructure expenditure over the last few years has grown at faster rate than the general public expenditure.
The flagship programs for Agenda 2063 include high speed train across the continent; a single aviation market, sustainable energy sources, free movement of people among African countries, a continental free trade area and e-network and “silencing the guns by 2020”.
While all these goals appear laudable, there is always the doubt of “we have heard it all before.” Speaking to The Guardian, Convener of 2015+ International, Dr. Tola Winjobi, noted that decades preceding the turn of the new millennium, there were hope and expectations that 2000 would provide a magic wand that would provide solutions to many, if not all, of the intractable challenges facing humanity. He stressed: “It was a period where commonplace slogans such as ‘health for all by the year 2000’, ‘prosperity for all by the year 2000’ and several other slogans.”
For the Agenda 2063 not to suffer stillbirth, stakeholders must guide against treating agreements with levity that initially characterised the MDG declaration. Though, about 189 heads of government signed the MDG declaration, only a few of them were conversant with the content of MDGs they signed. “Some of the heads of government, especially in developing countries, hurriedly signed the document, quickly came back home, and easily abandoned the paper for some time before they perfunctorily set up a technical committee to look into the nitty gritty of the declaration,” said Winjobi. This may have caused some set backs for the take off of the implementation of the MDGs in those countries.
For example, Nigeria participated in the UN MDGs campaign in September 2000, in New York, but did not kick-start the implementation of MDGs until one year after the country went into debt negotiation, which led to the relief gained in 2005; an indication that Nigeria was five years behind the set date for achieving MDGs. In effect, Nigeria started implementing MDGs plans and programmes in 2006.
“The process leading to crafting of MDGs up to the signing stage was devoid of inclusion of critical stakeholders in many countries,” said Winjobi. In other words, most countries did not give opportunity for their citizens to make input into the MDG process, thus making it lack legitimacy.
This, according to the former Director of the Global Call to Action against Poverty and MDGs in Nigeria, seems a weakness affecting MDG implementation as people view MDGs with cynicism, while some state or regional governments saw it as federal government business because they felt it lacked democratic ownership. In addition, institutional stakeholders such as ministries, departments, agencies, including the parliament, civil society organisations and the private sector were excluded. In most cases, it was only at the point of annual appropriation that the legislatures were involved while MDG line ministries were involved at the point of implementation.
Reassuringly, ministers at the Addis Ababa meeting called for countries to integrate the agenda into national plans and appealed for greater domestic investment in achieving its targets. Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, Mr. Sufian Ato Ahmed, said that in the case of his country, the objectives and the content of the national plan and those of the agenda 2063 are more or less similar. “It is the ultimate responsibility of each African country to mobilise internal resources to implement the national plans and agenda 2063 too.
For Ethiopia, we have already said that it is ultimately the domestic resources that matter though we might also get other resources.” Minister of Planning and Administrative Reform of Egypt, Mr. Ashraf al-Araby, said that what is really more important and even more difficult is to have an action plan to implement this vision at the national level. “In Egypt, we are working to have a detailed plan for this strategy,” he said. “I can reassure our commitment to support Agenda 2063 and to work closely under the umbrella of the African Union to achieve the targets.”
The question of popularising Agenda 2063 came to the surface during the discussions. Participants debated how grassroots communities of Africa could fully be engaged and mobilized around the Agenda. The chairperson of ‘Femmes Africa Solidarité,’ Ms. Bineta Diop, decalred that there is a need to disseminate and translate the vision in local languages to make sure that ordinary citizens understand its development. “Agenda 2063 states that the development of Africa will not happen if we don’t use the women and the young people’s potential. This can only be done through mobilizing communities,” she said adding that the youth should be the implementers, the movers and the shakers of the Agenda 2063.
While justice, peace, and security especially global terrorism are difficult to situate within the purview of all the eight-goal objectives of the MDG, the objective, “silence the guns,” under Agenda 2063, must not be reduced to just another item on the menu.
The Agenda 2063 must also take cognizance of one of the fundamental slips of the MDG, which failed to capture certain emerging developmental challenges, such as governance and accountability, as well as, issues bordering on youth involvement in governance, tackling corruption and inequality, insecurity and conflict management, uneven distribution of resources, support for local technologies, institutional strengthening, and inadequate social welfare policies. In this regard, Ms. Diop submission suffices.
Fundamentally, adequate and predictable financing is indispensible for the successful implementation of development plans and strategies such as Agenda 2063.
Calling for domestic mobilization of funds through taxes, sovereign and pension funds and other financing mechanisms, the ministers also called for a critical role of central banks in boosting the continents transformation agenda through financing.
Saying that Agenda 2063 was different from previous strategies that relied on external support to implement, Dlamini-Zuma said: “If you look at the different plans including NEPAD, the plan was that we trooped from capital to capital of G8 countries looking for money which never came.