South Africa “off track” to reach Agenda 2063 goals

By Martin Nicol

In 2013 the African Union (AU) adopted a 50-year “blueprint and master plan for sustainable development and economic growth”. This is known as Agenda 2063. Agenda 2063 comprises seven “aspirations”:

  1. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
  2. An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and a vision of the African Renaissance;
  3. An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;
  4.  A peaceful and secure Africa;
  5. Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, values and ethics;
  6.  An Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of the African people; and
  7. Africa as a strong and influential global partner.

The content of the aspirations is described in 20 goals – each of which has targets and indicators to judge whether progress is being made. South Africa recently filled in its “Agenda 2063 First Ten Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) Progress Reporting Template”. This has 66 indicators.

In February 2020, the African Union launched the First Continental Report on Implementation of Agenda 2063. The report is an assessment of 31 (out of 55) AU Member States who provided responses.

South Africa’s combined performance dashboard is reproduced below.[1] After six years of implementation, South Africa scored 23%. This is “off track” and below the average mark of 33% for the continent. The leader was Rwanda with 73%.

All Aspirations Member State Score

 

The only aspiration on which South Africa scored zero was number 5. South Africa was unable to show progress towards the target of “at least 60% of the content in educational curriculum is on indigenous African culture, values and language, targeting primary and secondary schools.”

South Africa scored surprisingly poorly on many goals – zero on eight goals and less than 5% on three. Where it did fairly well was on the challenges of climate change. Goal 7 under Aspiration 1 – a prosperous, sustainable Africa by 2063 – aims for environmentally sustainable climate resilient economies and communities. The priority of goal 7 is to ensure “Bio-diversity, conservation and sustainable natural resource management.” Its specific targets are two-fold:

  1. At least 30% of agricultural land is placed under sustainable land management practice; and
  2. At least 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas are preserved. South Africa scored 75% on this indicator.

A close look at score measurements raises questions on the seriousness with which our leaders of international relations take Agenda 2063 and reporting on it. In 2007, then-President Thabo Mbeki spoke out against the first AU peer review of South Africa because it was so critical – unfairly so, he said, and he delayed its public release.[2] The present government seems unfazed by what the AU publishes.

For example, South Africa scored zero for education. The reasons are:

  • The percentage of children of pre-school age attending preschool has not improved;
  • The net enrolment rate by sex and age in primary and secondary school has deteriorated; and
  • South Africa has not provided a baseline measure for the proportion of teachers qualified in Science or Technology or Engineering or Mathematics (STEM), and is therefore automatically given zero.

Its 1% score for infrastructure – even though it is the continent’s undisputed leader here – is dominated by South Africa’s failure to provide the baseline information needed for measuring progress. Although no one would question the zero awarded for the high speed rail network!

The 100% scores, flattering as they may appear, are also open to question. South Africa got a perfect score for a “fully functional national statistical system” – this after Statistics South Africa has been subjected to deep budget cuts for several years.

A perfect score was also awarded for Fast Track Realization of the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), with its the main target as “Goal 9: Key continental financial and monetary institutions established and functional”. All that South Africa did on this score was to sign some agreements.[3] South Africa has declared its strong commitment to the AfCFTA, but the AU template gives a zero score for South Africa’s failures regarding the removal of non-tariff barriers to inter-African trade.[4]

Overall, the first AU implementation report of Agenda 2063 suffers from incompleteness; it bears the signs of a document produced to meet someone’s personal job performance goals. The report on South Africa does not offer analytic insights, and it seems wrong and unfair – even in the context of all our deep problems and slow progress.

The Agenda 2063 website is extremely impressive from a visual and IT perspective, but its ability to add to our understanding of Africa or Agenda 2063 is questionable due to uncertainties about the quality of the underlying data.

ENDNOTES

[1] https://www.nepad.org/publication/first-continental-report-implementation-agenda-2063 Page 81.

[2] Fabricius P. Mbeki rubbishes African Peer Review criticism. 2 December 2007 https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/mbeki-rubbishes-african-peer-review-criticism-381026

[3] “Signed and ratified the AfCFTA”. See https://www.nepad.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/South%20Africa%20Final.xlsx.”

[4] Ibid. “Goal 8: Political and economic integration – Active member of the African Free Trade Area: No. of Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) eliminated. Remarks:  2013 to 2109 a total of 13 NTBs were reported against South Africa by the Tripartite Free Trade Area Member States…”

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