15 Feb 2015

How relevant is 2015 to Africa?

By Nkhensani Valoyi
We have eventually reached the year that everyone has been waiting for, the end of MDGs, the beginning of implementation of SDGs, Action 2015 and just about a year where the African Youth is alive with so many possibilities of change. A very interesting trend though that I have been following on social media is that more and more young people are getting involved in the African development Agenda. We are in a place where the African youth are asking questions and seeking answers, where our states are starting to consider the voice of the youth, where the private sector is also contributing to youth empowerment and where our academia is revealing the fundamental problems to development; a clear indicator that Africa is awake and trying.

Africa is still in a place where some of our countries have a high GDP, high poverty and high unemployment meaning that those who benefit from such an economy are actually those who own companies. According to the 2014 Economic outlook Growth in sub-Saharan Africa was 5% in 2013 and projected to be about 5.8% in 2014. Excluding South Africa, the figures are 6.1% and 6.8%, respectively. East and West Africa recorded the fastest pace of expansion, above 6%. Low-income countries also recorded growth of above 6%, and the upper-middle-income countries in North and Southern Africa at below 3%. While Kofi Annan said that productivity level can double in 5 years time on the 2014 African progress report, clearly there is still a gap to be filled between the high GDP and high poverty rate. The increase in productivity should reflect a significant amount of jobs created in the economy.

The numbers above are the reason why the youth should get more involved in transformation on the ground so that the REAL red tapes can be identified. 2015 is termed the year of Action for that particular reason. The African youth globally are already engaging and addressing some of the issues using networks and movements like the Network for Africa’s youth for development, International youth council, Action 2015 among others. If the youth can keep such energy, passion, enthusiasm and unity more and more problems will be addressed. One thing that we as the youth should be careful of is debt that comes in the form of foreign aid with secret conditions; this will only be the extension of our problems.

Below is what Patson Malisa the Network of African Youth for Development County Officer and Chairman of the International Youth Council for South Africa had to say regarding some of the questions that govern action 2015 and beyond:

1.      How relevant is the implementation of the Post-2015 SDGs?
SDGs and their application in the Post-2015 Development Agenda have many critical elements which were missing in the millennium development goals. Firstly, global affairs are in a much more diplomatic state than they were a few years ago. Change has become a word that is synonymous with the occurrences of the first half of this decade. What we considered to be nonnegotiable, have been tested by the winds of development and globalization.
The most important element that has finally received recognition as a negotiating partner at the SDGs table is the Youth, who were not as vocal in the drafting of the MDGs of 2000. I believe that the true essence of development is within the spirit of Youth. Therefore, it is essential that their voice be the true measure of the relevance of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. I am sure that the strong voice of the youth on regional and global levels thus proves the relevance of the SDGs in this generation’s plight.
2.      Do you think that the new strategy will work in terms of getting all stake holders from the grassroots involved?
I believe that grassroots consultation and implementation is the key to getting anything done. It is impossible to change anything that can’t be reached. The willingness of governments to commit to engaging civil society groups and community leaders will determine the longevity of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Education on the roles of both sides is very fundamental as the relationship cannot be sustained under misinterpretations of public and citizen responsibilities.
3.      Do you think that there will be sustainable transformation in rural areas?
I am certain that rural development will be one of the milestones of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We have inherited systems that were globally meant to service the innovators and contributors of society at that point in time. Many elements have changed since then, and therefore instead of leaning on current structures to create better lives for all, we ought to expand opportunity and innovation hubs. Rural development is an integral part of achieving this objective. At the International Youth Council South Africa, we made rural development a primary goal, and therefore believe that many other international organisations will subscribe to do the same. We need to focus on ensuring efficient energy sources, access to ICT and basic and tertiary education as primary objectives. Agriculture is also a field yet to be exploited fully in Africa. I believe that many other industries can be developed as a result of establishing agricultural and energy hubs in rural areas. Urbanization is a result of industrial boom in a sector of great profit. If we get agriculture running, we will be able to lift up a lot of rural towns in our respective countries.

It is quite clear that a creative implementation for the above programmes and formulation of policies is required so that these programs can bear tangible results. If you are not yet involved, get involved and let’s create a good quality of life amongst us and generations to come.