Nov. 10, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Report Recommends Steps to Enable African Countries to Take Ownership of Continent’s Development Agenda
KAMPALA, Uganda – Today national science academies representing several African nations released a report that lays out a vision and strategy by which African countries can take greater ownership of the development agenda across the continent. It recommends steps to give all sectors of society a stake in and responsibility for development goals, and it emphasizes the need for a shift in mindset in order to drive these changes.
The report notes that historically Africans have rarely led the development process; instead, development has been largely characterized by the receipt of international aid, which has failed to create sustainable development outcomes. Recently the concept of country ownership has emerged as the backbone of successful development. The history of populations that have successfully lifted themselves out of poverty demonstrates that the process is first and foremost an intellectual transformation, the report says. While technology, infrastructure, and finance play essential roles in this transformation, it is people and their capabilities that must leverage these material assets.
Released at the annual meeting of African science academies this week in Kampala, the report is intended to inform the African Union’s Agenda 2063 – a vision set forth in 2013 for Africa’s next 50 years of development – as well as the UN’s planned Sustainable Development Goals, which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015.
The report identifies five levers of development that could catalyze country ownership of development and recommends steps that African leaders, communities, and citizens should take in each area.
Communities. Communities lie at the core of owning African development, the report says, since national-level structures currently are not providing the resilience offered by traditional community structures. The report recommends that African leaders should involve communities in development planning and implementation, integrate their cultural practices into the development framework, and invest in marginalized groups, such as women working in agriculture, to tap into previously ignored capacities. Communities should self-start development initiatives using the resources currently available to them.
Education. Africa’s citizens represent one of the continent’s greatest untapped resources, the report says. Governments should invest substantially more in the skills and knowledge of their people, with curricula adapted to the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063. Governments, businesses, and academic institutions should conduct assessments to determine the capacities, skills, and knowledge needed to achieve development goals. Governments should also improve their role as accreditation and regulatory bodies, clearly articulate the roles and responsibilities of different ministries and public and private institutions with an education mandate, and ensure basic digital and computer literacy across the population.
Health. Even with significant international and domestic attention, efforts to improve health in Africa have progressed very slowly, the report says. Governments should invest more in the basic physical infrastructure that promotes health, including clinics and water treatment facilities. They should also redirect more domestic resources toward policies of universal health insurance; natural resource revenues should be considered as a way to finance these policies. Governments should also invest more in the training and education of workers in the health care sector. Regional and international bodies, including the African Union, should examine the feasibility of an integrated, collaborative health care framework.
Capital. The report recommends steps governments and communities can take to leverage Africa’s capital in four areas to meet development goals.
Copyright © 2015 U.S. National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. 500 Fifth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001.
The African Science Academy Development Initiative is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Photos provided by Peter Arnold Inc., U.S. Agency for International Development, World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.