Dragging Africa Backward


A new report published by ONE Campaign reveals that Nigeria and Congo DR lag behind in meeting their Millennium Development Goals

|  By Maureen Chigbo, Marrakech, Morocco  |  Jun. 10, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

NIGERIA and the Democratic Republic of Congo, DR, are dragging other African countries behind in meeting the millennium development goals, MDG, according to a new report published by the ONE Campaign. The two countries are not spending 15 percent of their budget as agreed by African Union for the health sector unlike countries which have made progress. The report is a new analysis from ONE Campaign which keeps track of progress on Millennium Development Goals and development financing in Africa. It was released May 29, on the margins of the just-ended annual meeting of the African Development Bank in Marrakech, Morocco.

The report finds a clear link between African country investments in health, education, agriculture and improved MDG progress in those areas. In the Dakar Framework on Education, African governments are to ensure that, at least, seven percent of their GDP is allocated to education within five years and nine percent within 10 years. On health, according to Abuja Declaration in 2000, heads of State of the African Union pledged to set a minimum allocation target of 15 percent of their annual budgets to the improvement of the health sector. Also on agriculture, signatories to the Maputo Declaration 2003 agreed to allocate, at least, 10 percent of the national budgets to agricultural and rural development within five years.

The report showed that 30 countries in Africa have accelerated progress in the last three years on reaching the Millennium Development Goals and 16 are on track to reduce extreme poverty by half in 2015, but further momentum is at risk due to laggard countries where progress has been stalled or gone into reverse. According One campaign 2013 report, Financing the Fight for Africa’s Transformation, top performing countries include Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Ghana and Ethiopia. At the same time some very large countries, such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are failing in many areas and slowing down the regional progress.

Looking ahead, the report finds that if African governments met their own political commitments to spend a certain proportion of their budgets on health, education, and agriculture, the results could be transformative. For example, if Nigeria were to meet its health-spending commitment from now until 2015, the projected additional funding of $22.5 billion could provide anti-malarial bed nets to every citizen, fully vaccinate every young child against deadly childhood diseases and provide anti-retroviral treatment to every person who is HIV positive.

Across all African countries, an estimated $243 billion in incremental resources could be deployed for health, agriculture, and education if governments met their existing political commitments. The findings show a direct correlation between African countries that are allocating a greater share of government spending on health, education and agriculture over the past decade and improved MDG progress in those areas.  From 2000 to 2011, Ethiopia lifted an estimated 10 million people out of extreme poverty, and over the same period the government spent nearly 45 percent of its total budget on health, education and agriculture.  The report is the only major study to rank countries on their overall progress on the MDGs and also assess the contribution that African countries’ own spending is having on their performance.

One aspect the report did not take into account is that what the smaller countries are spending on these key sectors could pale into insignificance compared to what Nigeria is spending annually but could not show the same result because of the size and population of the country. For instance, the population of the countries that have made progress when put together could not even make one third of Nigeria’s population. Also when you put their budget together it could not even amount to the budget of two states of the 36 states in the country plus the federal capital territory, FCT, not to talk of what is being spent on the health sector alone.

When Realnews pointed this out to Ben Leo, Global Policy director of ONE Campaign on Wednesday, in Marrakech, Morocco, he agreed that the size and population of Nigeria could be a factor. He said the report was not holistic and that such could be considered in future. Nevertheless, Sipho Moyo, ONE Africa director said: “The progress we are seeing in these countries shows the multiplier effect that takes place when African countries go all out to invest significantly towards improving health, education and agriculture, resulting in considerable breakthroughs in the fight to end preventable diseases, ignorance and hunger.”

According to her, “What is even more exciting is the fact that 10 of the 30 countries have been rated among the world’s best performing countries. This, obviously, makes the African Union, which has just turned 50 years, very proud. However, this is a key moment to take stock of the progress and, particularly, for  Africa’s giants such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where a lot more targeted investments need to be made to see these countries’ transit to middle income status and better socio-economic outcomes with respect to meeting the MDGs.”

Moyo continued: “The newly formed Committee of African Union Heads of State and Government on the post 2015 development agenda should have these results in view as they develop the post 2015 African position ahead of the UN General Assembly, this year. Our African leaders must put in place an accelerated effort to meet their $243 billion commitment to fund the current MDGs in order to secure Africa’s future and mitigate the risk of reversing any current gains and progress.”

Co-founded by Bono, ONE is a campaign and advocacy organisation of more than three million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable diseases although available facts show that extreme poverty has already been cut by half and can be virtually eradicated by 2030.

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