The 193 member states of the United Nations adopted sustainable development goals, a succession to millennium development goals on 25 September 2015; while the former has 17 goals with implementation across the developed, developing and least developed nations, the latter has 8 goals and concerned the developing and least developed countries. In its efforts to have African countries integrate the goals and targets into their national development plans, the African Union in 2016 domesticated 12 of these SDGs in Africa; they later dubbed this the “2063 goals”. However, according to the 2019 SDGs report, the continent is still lagging in achieving these goals. This piece, therefore, takes a holistic look into how African nations can meet the targeted goals by 2030 through an inter-disciplinary approach.
In the 2019 SDGs report, 736 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2015, 413 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Also, two-thirds of undernourished people worldwide live in two regions (sub-Saharan Africa and Asia). A further look at the report revealed that there were about 3.5 million more malaria cases in the 10 highest-burden African countries in 2017 compared to 2016. More than half of the schools in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to basic drinking water, hand washing facilities, the Internet, and computers. More worrisome is that despite the widespread of information communication technology on the continent, medium-tech and high-tech sectors account for only 15 percent of the manufacturing value added as against the global manufacturing value added of 45 percent.
Despite the array of problems listed above, one way out of the quagmire is an inter-disciplinary approach which involves the efforts of academia, civic society organizations and government. The efforts of the academia and civic society are very critical to achieving the SGDs by the set date, like a wise man once said; national development is too dangerous to be left in the hands of the politicians alone; therefore, it is imperative for these two entities to be mantras of these goals. This inter-disciplinary dynamic would make sure that complex problems are solved quickly as there would be multi-disciplinary solutions and greater understanding of the challenges which would prevent springing up of such problems again.
For instance, we can solve the malnutrition affecting the continent through massive investments in research in tertiary institutions by the government; this would enable the academic community to come up with highly nutritious foods that are low cost and would be affordable by the poor. Also, storage facilities have been the major threat to food security on the continent; through these research works, they can make locally made storage facilities for subsistence farmers, which make up over 60 percent of food production on the continent. Civic society organizations can help with public enlightenment on the importance of healthy food. People on the continent prefer their stomachs filled with food entirely of carbohydrates than food with vegetables and proteins, but through persistent advocacy, the narrative will change.
We can scale the tech sector on the continent up through government’s support of the establishment of tech hubs in every locality; over 90 percent of tech hubs in Africa are owned by private individuals and firms. African leaders can however take the advantage of readiness of multi-national tech firms such as Google that are promoting ICT knowledge on the continent to reach a larger populace through partnership. The Academic role is to adopt new and up-to-date curricular in line with the global trend, so that graduates produced from African institutions would have the technological needs required to solve some of these problems.
With sustainable development goals just over a decade away, African countries need to do something drastic to meet up with these targets; adopting an inclusive inter-disciplinary approach would go a long way to meet the 2030 set date and the “2063 goals”. Like President Kagame of Rwanda once said, the solution to problems in Africa is mobilizing the right mindsets and not soliciting for funding because the continent is abounded with everything it needed; the clock is ticking, and the world is watching if the SDGs won’t be a mess like the MDGs.