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April 20, 2017

Africa Pioneers Regionwide Initiatives to Achieve the SDGs; JICA Assists with an Action Plan

As countries around the world work to promote the Sustainable Development Goals, the international organization Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A) was established with the goal of all 54 countries in Africa achieving the SDGs.

JICA brought together all the knowledge it has gained on the ground to assist in the creation of an action plan for SDGC/A.

photoThe launch ceremony of the SDGC/A. Photo courtesy of the government of Rwanda

What is SDGC/A?

The spirit behind the SDGs agreed upon by the U.N. General Assembly in September 2015 is "No one will be left behind." The SDGs are made up of 17 goals — whose themes include eradicating poverty and hunger, energy, climate change countermeasures, and achieving peaceful societies. These 17 goals are further divided into 169 targets, and all countries both developing and developed are expected to work to achieve them.

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However, it is not easy for any country in the world to achieve consistency between the SDGs' goals and targets and its own strategies, and to come up with a specific plan, carry it out, perform monitoring and evaluate the results.

African countries are particularly susceptible to drought, floods and other global warming effects. And the confusion brought about by the Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreak in 2014 shows African health systems remain fragile. The growth of violent extremism also is a major threat.

On the other hand, mobile money services such as M-Pesa, offered by Safaricom Limited of Kenya, have spread throughout Africa, used by people who don't have a bank account. Also, leading-edge technology is beginning to bear fruit in some countries in Africa. One example is Rwanda, where drones quickly are being put to practical use to deliver medicine and medical-use blood.

So, what was needed was a trans-national central base in Africa to promote the SDGs, and that is the role of the SDGC/A. Through the SDGC/A, the leaders of various countries and private companies have come together to promote: 1. Policy recommendations and research, 2. Education and capacity building, 3. Promotion of technological innovation and 4. Inter-country investments and projects. Several presidents of African countries are SDGC/A board members and the headquarters is in Rwanda.

The key to eradicating poverty in Africa is knowledge

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photoRwandan President Paul Kagame, top, and Takao Toda, a JICA vice president, bottom, speak at the keynote speech session. Photos courtesy of the Rwandan government

JICA assisted in the creation of an action plan for the SDGC/A. Specifically, it suggested policies needed for the countries of Africa to achieve the SDGs and gathered and analyzed the information needed to create a framework for monitoring the African region's common efforts on the SDGs.

On Jan. 27, 2017, it was loudly proclaimed at the center’s launch ceremony in the Rwandan capital of Kigali that by 2030 all 54 countries of Africa will eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Africans must themselves contribute to fundamentally improving their lives and that for that purpose, he has great expectations for the role of the SDGC/A to provide technical support, advice and expertise to national governments, private sector organizations, civil society and academic institutions as a knowledge- and wisdom-based center.

Also, Takao Toda, a JICA vice president, emphasized that because at the end of the century one-third of the working age population of the world will be in Africa, it will be Africa's obligation to produce large numbers of high-quality workers for the world. He said the key to that is knowledge.

JICA has an abundance of experience and knowledge from working as one of the world's leading comprehensive development assistance agencies.

JICA's work has included various projects around the world. Its maternal and child health handbook initiative aims to protect the lives and health of mothers and their children. The School for All project encourages parents, communities and schools to work together to improve child education and it has spread to 40,000 schools in Africa. JICA’s projects also include industrial development through information and communication technology. JICA has gained knowledge and technology through partnerships with Japanese companies, and it believes that disseminating these experiences will contribute to achieving the SDGs in Africa.

JICA will work proactively to practice visualizing, sharing and scaling up knowledge with the SDGC/A to achieve the SDGs in Africa.
* The SDGC/A Board members include Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Dangote Group Owner Aliko Dangote, who serve as co-chairs, as well as the presidents of Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Chad, Benin and Mozambique, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and Columbia University professor Jeffrey David Sachs.

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