Foresight report launch

The Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in collaboration with the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) of the Brookings Institution based in Washington DC, USA on Thursday January 23,2020 successfully conducted the Ugandan launch of the Foresight Africa 2020 report in Kampala.

Foresight Africa is a flagship annual publication of the Brookings Institution that outlines what Brookings scholars, African experts and policy makers have identified as top priorities for the continent in the New Year. The Launch in African countries allows AGI to share the publication with various stakeholders in the region and obtain feedback to further inform the next foresight report. Foresight Africa 2020 is a special edition focusing on the top priorities for the continent over the next decade: 2020-2030.

The report outlines six priorities that African governments must urgently tackle for countries to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and guarantee prosperity for the continent. They include: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: The state of play and policy options; Deepening good governance: Inclusion, democracy, and security; Leveraging demographic trends for economic transformation: Job creation, skills development, and urbanization policies.

Other priorities are: Combating climate change: An urgent call for comprehensive global and local action; Capturing the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A regional and national agenda; Bolstering Africa’s role in the global economy: The importance of regional integration.

In his key note address at the launch, Makerere University Chancellor, Dr. Ezra Suruma observed that the Foresight Africa Report provides direction for top policy priorities for the African continent at the beginning of each year, adding that this particular year was special because it marks the beginning of a new decade, the 2020s’, and in that spirit, the themes of the foresight report frame issues that will top Africa’s policy agenda in the next decade. He said Uganda has made significant strides, in some areas, in achieving the SDGs although there are challenges in fully domesticating the SDGs into our National Development Plan and in closing the wide financing and data gaps.

Dr. Suruma said Uganda’s annual additional spending requirements are estimated at 6 percent of the country’s GDP, approximately US $2 billion. This financing gap is significant given the reduction in development assistance and has consequently, led to accumulation of debt, he added. “Although the official view is that Uganda is not at the risk of debt distress, the nominal public debt is expected to rise to 45 percent of GDP over the medium term and put more strain on the budget as more resources are allocated for interest payments”. Currently, 20 percent of revenues is used in servicing debt. This rate of debt servicing is consistent with countries with high risk or in debt distress, said the chancellor.

Ms. Rosa Malango, UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda noted that the focus of this year’s Foresight report on SDGs is a testament to the level of importance that research institutions accord to this development framework. “We are engaging in this discussion when the global community is already four years into the 2030 development targets that the world leaders committed to achieve to ensure a world that is responsive to humanity and the planet,” said Ms. Malango. She stressed that her key highlight of the report is the focus on the critical role of building strong institutions and good governance. “I believe you all agree with me that delivery on the social, economic and environmental tenets of sustainable development can only be achieved when there are efficient, just and effective governance systems that promote shared prosperity”, she stated. She acknowledged the increasingly stronger ownership of SDGs amongst African governments realizing that SDGs ae not different from the respective national aspirations. “In Uganda for example, Government has set up a National Coordination Framework for Implementation of SDGs under the leadership of the Office of the prime Minister with clear roles for state and non-state actors,” she said.

The Resident Coordinator argued that although Uganda had made great strides and been a global reference on poverty reduction during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era, it has recently backtracked on that front when poverty levels increased from 19.7 percent in 2012/13 to 21.4% in 2016/17. She challenged leadership in African countries to leverage power of partnerships at all levels, exploit South-South and Triangular cooperation to facilitate learning among African countries. She also stressed the urgent need to address inequalities within and among the nations to ensure none is left behind; exploit the power of technology as an enabler of socio-economic transformation; address issues of climate change, explore more innovative modalities of financing the implementation of SDGs and above all strengthen governance systems.

The Executive Director of Economic Policy Research Centre, Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana hailed the positive gesture by AGI at Brookings Institution in considering to have report launches in African countries and hear the concerned people’s voices to inform and   improve on the subsequent reports. She also challenged stakeholders to look at how best we can protect our gains in areas like universal education,  poverty eradication without complacency, promote agro-processing for high value crops, implement import substitution for what we produce and address climate change concerns.

The Foresight report was presented by Dr. Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly, a senior fellow and director of Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institutions. The launch was enriched by a panel discussion by experts from various disciplines. They included Dr. Francis Mangeni a former director of Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs of COMESA, Prof. Julius Kiiza, an associate professor of Political Economy and Development at Makerere University, Dr. David Okello the director of Non Communicable Diseases and Dr. Coulibaly.  

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