Although some of the world’s fastest growing economies can be found in Africa, the continent is falling behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
World leaders adopted the 17 Goals four years ago in the push to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality, spur economic growth and protect the planet.
The SDGs are also “Africa’s goals”, according to Mr. Kagame, who added that the 55-member African Union continues to work to meet the 2030 deadline.
“Next July, for example, trading will commence under the African Continental Free-Trade Area, the world’s largest. But Africa continues to lag behind other regions on the Sustainable Development Goals. This is despite the fact that our continent is home to several of the fastest growing economies in the world,” he said.
“Growth must be fully inclusive so that inequality within countries continues to diminish. The fundamentals needed to unlock this transformation are already in place. With a concerted push involving all partners, including the private sector, it is indeed possible to make up for lost time with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
President Kagame believes the international community is at a crossroads in determining whether multilateralism will prevail or lose its way.
He said what is clear is that countries now have “well-defined roadmaps” such as the SDGs, but also on health care and climate change.
While leaders from all 193 UN Member States are in New York this week for the annual debate in the General Assembly Hall, they are also participating in five major summits to address global challenges.
On Monday, countries agreed the UN Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, addressing four major areas of primary care.
Mr. Kagame reported that more than 90 per cent of Rwandans have insurance coverage, which has resulted in “significant” improvements in health outcomes.
“It shows that it is possible for countries at every income level to make healthcare affordable and accessible for all,” he said.