At this September’s meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, governments will discuss elements of the development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. Recently, I was proud to serve as a member of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, a group convened by the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to recommend such a plan. After engaging with more than 5,000 civil society groups and numerous other stakeholders from around the world to discuss their priorities, we published our report on May 30, outlining how the world can finally eradicate extreme poverty and achieve sustainable development. How can we achieve such transformations in Africa? I believe that to realize the world that the report envisions, Africans must prioritize six of the panel’s recommendations. First, we must focus on structural economic transformations to make development sustainable. While the approaches of different countries will differ, all must focus on fundamentals such as building the skills base of their workers, supporting small firms, investing in research and development, and finding new ways to innovate. Creating an environment where the private sector produces more good and decent jobs is also critical – especially for our continent’s large youth population. Second, we must achieve inclusive growth by connecting everyone to the modern economy by giving them access to quality infrastructure. Without investing in electricity, irrigation and quality roads and telecommunications, we will neither be able to grow our economies nor manage our energy use and pollution levels. Third, we must re-orient development discussions to focus on national ownership, by putting national governments at the forefront of the process of transforming our goals into reality. This will allow us to account for country-level conditions, since nations starting in different places cannot be expected to reach the same absolute targets. Fourth, we must prioritize equity and social inclusion. We cannot measure progress by averages. We must ensure that development benefits all people, regardless of their race, gender, disability, age or other status.
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