The latest report on Africa’s sustainable development urges governments to strengthen their urban-planning capacities to manage the potential of the region’s ever-expanding cities. It is believed that this will help to address environmental challenges including climate change, droughts and floods.

The 2018 Africa Sustainable Development Report (ASDR), titled “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient continent”, was launched in December at the 13th Africa Economic Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

It is a joint annual publication compiled by the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme – Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP-RBA).

The report cast its focus on five of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals: clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; and life on land.

In one of its key findings, the report indicates that the proportion of Africans (excluding North African) with access to safe water is 23,7 percent. This is barely one third of the global average of 71 percent, which is itself characterised by wide disparities between and within countries.

Urbanisation in Africa is occurring at the fastest rate globally, but the potential benefits are not yet fully exploited. The 2018 ASDR finds that access to electricity in Africa is increasing, albeit at a pace lower than the population growth.

Similarly, efficiency in energy use is improving but reliance on biomass poses a challenge to progress. On a more positive note, Africa outperforms most of the world’s regions in the conservation and sustainable use of its mountain resources.

The report finds that countries such as Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, which rank high on science and innovation in Africa, invest a relatively higher share of their gross domestic product in research and development and provide higher incentives for the private sector to carry out research than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

Adam Elhiraika, ECA director of the Macroeconomics and Governance Division, says: “The report is crucial as it points us in the right direction as we seek to accelerate progress on the SDGs to eradicate poverty, address climate change and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all by 2030.”

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