ECA’s Armah urges Africa to plan for its expanding urban population

Dakar, Senegal, May 8, 2018 (ECA) – Africa should plan for its expanding urban population, increase awareness of sustainable production and consumption, and commit to expanding energy access, particularly for rural and impoverished areas, says Economic Commission for Africa’s Bartholomew Armah.

In a presentation on the 2018 Africa Sustainable Development Report at the just-ended Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development, Mr. Armah, who’s with the ECA’s Macroeconomic Policy Division, said the continent should also cultivate a policy environment where science, technology and innovation can flourish as it forges ahead with the implementation of the SDGs.

The ECA expert discussed with participants Africa’s performance on six goals of the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development and the related parts of Agenda 2063.

“The most recent available data from multiple sources has been collected to highlight the challenges of implementing these broad-ranging development agendas. These goals align with those that will be the focus of the High Level Political Forum that will be held later this year,” he said.

These are:

Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation;

Goal 7 – Affordable and clean energy;

Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities;

Goal 12 – Responsible consumption and production;

Goal 15 – Life on land.

On clean water and sanitation, the report revealed access to safely managed water was extremely low in most of Africa, but much higher in North Africa.

“Africans largely do not have access to safe drinking water at the same rates as the rest of the world. Hidden in this figure is also, as is usual, an urban-rural divide in terms of access. The global average for population using a safely managed drinking water source is 71 percent,” said Mr. Armah.

On affordable clean energy, the report reveals that though access to energy has been rising across Africa, many people remain disconnected from power supplies, particularly in rural areas.

Africa in general has abundant reserves of fossil fuels and also plentiful sources of renewable energy, but harnessing these resources remains a challenge, said Mr. Armah.

In 2014, across the whole continent, approximately 47 per cent of people had access to electricity. This stands in contrast from approximately 38 per cent in 1990.

Mr. Armah said there is scope for utilization of newer technologies such as solar power to be more fully exploited on the continent.

On responsible production and consumption, the report says post-harvest losses remain high in Africa and in the context of the rising population, were an unsustainable production practice. Africa, excluding North Africa, wastes over 30 per cent of its approximately 230 million tons of annual food production, which is equivalent to more than some US$4 billion annually, because of poor post-harvest handling.

On life on land, the report revealed Africa’s ecosystems were under growing threat of degradation. Rapid deforestation is, however, coinciding with measures to manage forests. Between 2005 and 2010, almost every country in Africa registered an increase in the proportion of forest area with long-term management plans.

“Better news is that Africa outperforms most of the world’s regions in the conservation and sustainable use of its mountain resources,” said Mr. Armah, adding all African regions were increasing the coverage of protected mountain resources.

Africa, excluding North Africa, has a Mountain Green Cover Index of 90 per cent, well above the global average of 76 per cent and falling behind only Oceania and South East Asia at 96 per cent and 98 per cent, respectively.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826