As the world rolls out the next set of Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Prof Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General has turned the ‘heat’ on African governments

to do what is naturally their responsibility – fund research institutions.

He also disclosed that his outfit would collaborate with the University of Ghana and other universities to work out on ways to achieve the SDGs.

Speaking in a passionate tone at a public lecture, on Monday, June 27, at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic, ISSER, University of Ghana, he revealed that his interaction with some key African leaders showed they have neglected funding research institutions.

Prof Sachs dilated on the topic “Sustainable Development Goals and Economic Growth in Africa”.    

The Special Advisor, who is also the Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, cited China and India as countries which were behind in terms of development but by paying attention to research there has been a major leapfrog jump from poverty to riches.

Prof Sachs was, however, upbeat about Africa’s rise based on the progress made in the last 15 years going by the achievements of some of the last SDG goals by some key countries in the continent.

“The reasons for optimism are the rise of China and the growth of India. China is the biggest financier or investor of Africa while India is a major world ICT hub and ICT is crucial to development”, Prof Sachs postulated.

Prof Sachs said Ghana is expected to lead the way in the new Sustainable Development Goals as it led the way on the Millennium Development Goals MDGs.

“For the period 2000 to 2015 the development cooperation worldwide was focused on the MDGs and these were a global commitment that Kofi Annan put before the world in September 2000 at a famous summit at the start of the new millennium to address the extreme challenges of poverty, hunger and disease. Those goals made a difference worldwide and for Africa, a lot of progress and a lot to build upon”, he pointed out.                 

Touching on the new set of 17 SDGs and how to achieve them, Prof Sachs called on Africa to be the leading voice since pointers indicate that the continent has the chance and potential to achieve the goals by the stipulated 2030 date.

Prof Sachs said the interested parties especially governments must identify the strategy and how to pay for it in order to invest to make the SDGs work.

“Africa’s growth rate should be between 8-10% in succeeding years because that’s how to end poverty. The growth rate should be twice what it is now? How did Asia get twice that growth rate? In Africa the investments have been about 20% of the national income. Asia invests like crazy. They save a lot of money and then they pour it into investments. The households save a lot, the government saves a lot. The savings rate in Africa is not as high as in Asia. But I think Africa should borrow more and attract foreign direct investment in order to raise the investment rate.”

The chairman for the occasion was former President, John Agyekum Kufuor.

In his closing remarks, he gave thumps up to Prof Sachs for what he noted as a brilliant, thought-provoking and insightful lecture. He described him as a virtual prophet of our time.

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The former President hinged his optimism about Africa’s ability to make headway in achieving the SDGs on the pillar of leadership which was crucial in the area of governance.

He urged African leaders to keep partnerships with other countries outside the continent very strong and working.

Present at the lecture was Mrs. Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe, former Vice President of Uganda. She is gunning for the position of Chairperson, African Union Commission and the election is due next month in Rwanda. 

ISSER’s Administrative Secretary, Mrs. Lucy Brimpong Ofori-Ayeh, gave the vote of thanks.