Representatives from government, regional and international bodies, the private sector and civil society from across Africa have gathered in Dakar, Senegal to discuss top priorities to be included in the global development framework beyond 2015, which will be debated at the UN General Assembly in September 2013.
While efforts continue across Africa to achieve the time-bound Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the two-day forum formed part of unprecedented consultations to build a collective vision, to be endorsed by African Ministers and ratified by Heads of State at the African Union's May 2013 Summit.
"In order for Africa to reap the rewards of its booming population and economic growth, its post-MDG agenda must prioritise building skills for tomorrow's job market, fostering efficiency and accountability in services and building social and financial systems for inclusive growth," said Principal Health Economist at the African Development Bank, Nejmudin Bilal.
The forum is sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Africa Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Participants are expected to discuss inclusive growth, education and the possibility of transforming the structure of African economies so as to translate growth into job creation, mobilisation of domestic resources and rural development as well as issues that emerged from the Rio+20 Summit, such as bringing together the social, environmental and economic dimensions included in sustainable development.
"These institutions are facilitating a bottom-up, inclusive and open process with the participation of a broad spectrum of stakeholders to contribute to defining Africa's development priorities beyond 2015," said the Deputy Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa, Babacar Cissé.
Africa has made steady progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the internationally agreed targets which aim to reduce poverty by 2015. Advances have been made in primary school enrolment, gender parity in primary school enrolment, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament and HIV and AIDS prevalence rates.
In spite of this progress, Africa still faces the challenges of addressing pervasive income inequalities, creating decent jobs, access to health and sanitation services.
"The articulation of an African common position must not be limited to the development of the broad framework of the agenda. It must also extend to the process of developing goals, targets and indicators. This is important because it is precisely these goals, targets and indicators that will constitute the operation and dimension of the new development agenda," said Bart Armah, ECA's Chief of MDGs and LDCs, who stood in for Prof. Adebayo Olukoshi.