Developing countries need to embrace public-private partnerships if the world is to achieve the global transformational agenda, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame said this Monday afternoon in Ghana's capital Accra at the opening session of a High-level Africa roundtable on SDGs, held under the theme "Mobilising Support and Accelerating growth of SDGs".
The two-day meeting was hosted by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana. H.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and Co-Chair of UN Secretary General's Group of Advocates was unable to attend the session.
Kagame said that for the SDGs to fully fit into poverty eradication plans for most developing countries, strong collaboration between governments and the private sectors is "critical".
He said that once this aspect is well exploited, nations would easily reach the new targets and transform the lives of people.
"There are two main aspects of the SDGs that constitute an improvement from our experience with the MDGs." Kagame said. "First is the strong emphasis on the private sector as an engine to eliminate poverty and create wealth, objectives that are at the heart of most of our national plans."
The SDGs are a comprehensive set of 17 goals which seeks to go beyond the remarkable past accomplishments of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to create a sustainable world by 2030.
Formed through extensive worldwide consultations with all segments of society, with an emphasis on targeting global challenges, the SDGs are seen as a comprehensive development plan to leave no person behind. The goals were officially adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at the UN General Assembly.
The implementation of the 15-year agenda for sustainable development begun on January 1 2016 and, among others, seeks end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and to fix climate change.
"Integrating the SDGs into these plans and ensuring their implementation cannot be successfully achieved by government alone. This is why strong collaboration with the private sector is critical for reaching a win-win situation," Kagame said.
The financing gaps for major projects, Kagame noted, can be filled by private sector investment through appropriate de-risking mechanisms provided by the public sector and other partners.
The President also observed that SDGs are rather an "ambitious framework", hence global partnerships between developing and developed countries would go a long way in bridging the gap to address the issues for which the development agenda was devised.
"We have an ambitious development framework to engage all countries rather than just developing ones, especially knowing that there are cross-cutting issues that affect everyone.
"This provides new scope for productive global partnerships and learning. This could include reaching consensus on how to measure progress and support implementation in ways that are most relevant for our respective national contexts," the Head of State added.
The President pledged that Rwanda would continue to collaborate with partner states, particularly through the SDG Center for Africa "which we are happy to host in Kigali and continue to welcome your support on that as well."
The centre was established to facilitate coordination and advocacy and help in building capacity to implement the SDGs.
"I invite you all to use it and support it as we support our continent," he added.
According to a statement, Akufo-Addo is mobilising support for accelerating the implementation of SDGs in Africa.
At the completion of the high-level discussions, organisers say, a practical, solutions driven action plan will be shared with Heads of State and Government at the African Union Summit in January 2018.
Following the opening the session, President Kagame also participated in the Presidential Forum on "What would it take for SDGs to happen: The role of leadership", along with his host, President Akufo-Addo. During the panel discussion, President Kagame was asked a question on his view of the collective gaps in African leadership that hinder the continent from achieving its SDG goals, to which he responded: "The continent needs to work together to mobilize resources, especially financial resources & people. Each country also needs its own champions to build consensus & drive results. They should be as inclusive of private sector, women & young people represented". Also in response to a question on aid and its relevance to the continent, the President remarked: "I don't think that people have dismissed that aid is not necessary, conversations have been around the fact that aid is not enough.The conversation on how we use aid to build capacity or for investment i think is a fair conversation".
Other members of the panel included; Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commission chairperson; Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director, Earth Institute at Columbia University and UN SDGs Eminent Advocate; Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate, UN SDGs Advocate and Director; and Dr Alaa Murabit, the voice of Libyan Women on UN SDGs Advocate.