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Make no mistake: without strong institutions and human capital, the SDGs will suffer seriously in Africa – ACBF

19 Dec, 2017

Harare, 19 Dec. 2017 (ACBF) – Without keen attention to capacity issues, implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa will face the same fate as as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This is a point the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has made abundantly clear to African political and thought leaders as well as the continent’s policy makers, a core group of advocates/experts of the SDGs, the leadership of the UN, top officials of the African Development Bank (AfDB), representatives of various multilateral institutions and private sector players at a a High-Level Roundtable of the SDGs convened in Accra from 11 to 12 December 2017 by the Government of Ghana.

Addressing these influencers, the Executive Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) – Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie stated that “the MDGs did not pay serious attention to the enablers required to achieve them,” noting that “one of the most important enablers that was not given the attention it deserved was implementation capacity – a mistake to be avoided if the SDGs are to be fully realized in Africa.”

The Head of the ACBF Secretariat said coordinated capacity development effort on the continent would therefore be cardinal for the effective implementation of the SDGs.

He drew reference from an ACBF study on the Capacity Imperativesfor SDGs which demonstrates the need for quickly strengthening institutional and human capacities at continental, sub-regional and country levels to produce results. For instance, 80 percent of government officials surveyed in the study say they need technical assistance (capacity suport) to have better access to finance in order to contribute to the successful implementation of the SDGs while 60 percent confirm that they need training and skills development that would aid the effective implementation of the Goals. As for private sector players, 75 percent of those surveyed in the study say research and knowledge sharing (a core part of the work done by ACBF to support both continental and national development agendas) would help the private sector identify and pursue the innovations needed to implement the SDGs from their own vantage point.

In terms of developing individual human capacity to leverage the SDGs in Africa, the ACBF study pinpoints leadership skills development in critical thinking, change readiness, innovativeness and inventiveness, strategic planning, results-based management and capabilities coordination as key soft skills needed for implementing SDGs in Africa.

Meanwhile advanced training in program development/implementation, risk management as well as women and youth empowerment in entrepreneurship are other key prescriptions from the Study which ACBF’s Executive Secretary strongly referred to at the High-Level Roundtable.

So, what would be some practical routes to take, in attending to the needs identified above? To this question, Prof Nnadozie said to strengthen the Africa’s institutional capacity for implementing the SDGs, the continent’s leaders should establish “ fit-for-purpose institutions, at both the continental and national levels, that provide a coherent set of policies, structures, and organizations; appropriate physical infrastructure and systems; and work processes and procedures that will help attract and retain high-performing individuals”  as well as “capacity development units in the African countries to allow for the coordination of capacity development efforts.”

As for human capacity, he said stakeholders would have to urgently initiate massive medium- to long-term training for critical technical skill sets in line with labor market demands which would be found in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), alongside the relevant investments needed. Among other things, he pointed out that reversing brain drain or at least promoting brain circulation within the Africa; and strengthening the links between universities, industry, and labor markets; are processes that would aid the realization of the SDGs in Africa by the target year of 2030.

As the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development, ACBF will build on the results of its study on the Capacity Imperatives study for implementing the SDGs in Africa, to coordinate efforts toward developing an SDGs capacity-strengthening program for African countries.  To do this, the Foundation will partner with African and other organizations and stakeholders.

The ‘Stop-to-Start continuum’ (4S’s) for asserting Africa’s development

During the High-Level Roundtable, ACBF’s Executive Secretary Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie concluded his address to the High-level Roundtable leaders from across Africa by visiting some bigger-context principles that could further inspire various stakeholders as they strive to make the SDGs come to fruition on the continent. The principles which could be couched as the Stop-to-Start continuum for Africa’s development assertiveness or the 4S’s, go thus:

  • Stop investing in Africa’s unemployment (by moving away from an over-concentration in the study areas of the humanities to critical study fields that include Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM – as well as Development Management)
  • Stop exporting Africa's jobs (by developing the necessary forward and backward links for value addition on Africa’s goods and services, hence getting more people involved in the production value chains and boosting and making growth inclusive)
  • Start using Africa’s existing capacity (by creating capacity retention/utilization incentives for skilled people to use their skills for the continent’s own development thereby reversing brain drain)
  • Start trusting and using African Institutions such as ACBF for development that have the requisite experience, knowledge and networks on the ground to effect impactful change through informed capacity development programmes at continental, sub-regional and country levels


For more information, please contact:

Abel Akara Ticha – Senior Communication Officer
The African Capacity Building Foundation
Harare, Zimbabwe
+263 7+263-4 304663, 304622, 332002, 332014; Ext. 279


ABOUT the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)

Having spearheaded and robustly coordinated capacity development programs worth over 700 million US dollars across 45 countries and 8 regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa since 1991, ACBF has gathered the requisite experience that makes it the go-to institution for expert knowledge and human resources to advise and support African countries, regional economic communities and institutions on decisive steps to take to develop the practical skills urgently required for the continent’s economic transformation.

Evidence from our cutting-edge work (constituting hundreds of knowledge publications) and the work of several partners show that Africa's development efforts are being hobbled by severe capacity deficits often in the form of shortage of critical skills, deficits in leadership, inhibiting mindsets and weak institutions. The continent’s practical skills shortage is acute in key areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Agriculture.

At ACBF, we will continue using our unmatched track record in managing financial facilities for development, our vast knowledge gathering experience thanks to the exceptional skills mix of our core staff as well as our strong strategic partnerships and networks to help countries and institutions identify their capacity needs, advise them on how to plug these capacity weaknesses and on where to find the knowledge and resources to develop the requisite capacity resources, effectively use them and retain them to achieve their short and long-term development objectives.

ACBF’s vision is an Africa capable of achieving its own development.

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Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana