Global goals, African realities: building a sustainable future for all
The Africa Progress Report is the annual flagship publication of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), drawing on the best research and analysis available, and making policy recommendations for African political leaders and civil society who collectively have the primary responsibility for spurring Africa’s progress. Additionally, the reports also highlight critical steps that must be taken by leaders in the international public and private sectors. With the 2015 report having recently been published, the APP have published this retrospective, which compiles detailed and comprehensive summaries of their most recent annual reports.
The publication is split into four sections, representing each of the last four years of the APP African Progress Reports (2012 - 2015). Each section contains a foreword by Kofi Annan, describes the findings of the thematic research supported by regular, clear infographics, and concludes with comprehensive and detailed recommendations for relevant stakeholders, including African governments, the international community, and private investors and multinational companies.
The first section discusses the 2015 report called Power, People, Planet, which concerned Africa’s energy and climate related opportunities. This report sought to explore how Africa could help to avoid catastrophic climate change in a way that could sustain growth, create jobs, and lift millions of people out of poverty. The message of this report summary is that while present energy systems in Africa are often highly centralised, inefficient, and highly unequal in terms of access at high cost to the poor, from this crisis comes opportunity, in that new advances in low-carbon energy could allow much of Africa to leapfrog into a new era of power generation. International cooperation needs to be strengthened to tackle Africa’s interlocking climate and energy problems, not least because the window of opportunity to mitigate climate change is rapidly closing.
The plundering of Africa’s natural resources, including fish stocks and forests, is the subject of the 2014 report Grain, Fish, Money. This summary highlights the vast potential of African agricultural production, and the gulf between the potential and the reality, in which dependence on food imports is increasing. Two-thirds of Africans rely on agriculture and fishing for livelihoods, so closing that gulf represents a huge opportunity to reduce poverty generate more jobs, and improve Africa’s food security. Also highlighted in this section is the extensive and costly issue of illegal and unregulated plundering of fish stocks, which is conservatively estimated to cost West Africa $£1.3billion annually, and forests, which in total costs an estimated $17billion per year.
Equity in Extractives is the title of the 2013 report discussed in section three. Here, the authors show how revenues from oil, gas, and mining have been widening wealth inequalities, and have led to an economically prosperous decade failing to adequately translate into improved health, education, and nutrition. African and OECD countries are urged to employ greater cooperation to ensure key challenges are addressed, ranging from systematic tax evasion to outride plunder of valuable assets. For instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo is estimated to have lost around $1.36billion through the undervaluation of assets in three sales to foreign investors, a figure twice as high as the country’s health and education budgets combined.. The report found that it unconscionable that private companies, often supported by corrupt officials, are engaging in such a scale of exploitation.
Finally, Jobs, Justice, and Equity, the 2012 African Progress Report, called on African leaders to tackle the deep, persistent and enduring inequalities across the continent, as the rich become richer, and entire sections of populations are left behind. The report notes that while the previous decade had witnessed unprecedented economic growth, almost half of Africans still live on less than $1.25 a day. What is more, the inequality is increasingly visible as unequal access to health, education, and water and sanitation leaves the poorest without the most basic of necessities.