Africa’s economic development and the Sustainable Development Goals With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in September 2015, the world shared a new commitment to a future where women and men in all countries can live a decent life with full respect for human rights and dignity. For Africa this is a special challenge due to the large number of people who daily face conditions of vulnerability. The idea of ‘sustainable development’ that led to the SDGs originated from several contributions. Prominent among them was the concept of ‘human development’ articulated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990: development is a process in which a community of people can choose in a free and democratic way its own future and work together to achieve it. In this view, development is no longer a ‘model’, nor the reaching of a status or set of pre-established technical and social assets; it is an original transformation process led by a country’s people, in which public policies are aimed at widening the space of opportunities for all individuals, expanding available choices and making the transformation possible. Africa has the world’s highest percentage of people who live in poverty and face many demanding socio-economic situations. The continent’s development needs a multidimensional approach. The economic dimension of Africa’s development options is part of this broader approach, both as a cause and as a result of the improvement of social conditions. Stronger economies offer an opportunity to provide solutions for social difficulties (e.g. growth can help finance education), but it can also be the result of an improved social condition (e.g. a more educated workforce raises productivity and can access better jobs and salaries).
* Riccardo Moro, Lecturer and Researcher, Università degli Studi di Milano