The satisfaction of human needs and aspirations is the major objective of development but this still remains a challenge in Africa. With 750million people living in Sub Saharan Africa today, one-half still live on less than $1 a day purchasing price parity (PPP) and majority lacks access to clean water, sanitation, adequate nutrition, quality healthcare and other life sustaining goods as the Clinton Foundation acknowledges.  Since 1983 when the World Commission on Environment and Development was convened by the United Nations to ensure world sustainable development, sustainable development has remained subtle for many African countries.

Poverty remains Africa’s major challenge as a result of their population size which puts pressure on the resources and therefore affecting the resource distribution hence slowing down the rise in living standards of the people. The continent has also not been able to benefit from globalization opportunities due to the low level of technological advancement and education standards which does not match the standard of the developed world hence they are always outcompeted in the market.

However, Africa’s effort to achieve sustainable development have been impeded by the conflicts and civil wars for instance; Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, and even the recent protests in many countries in Africa like Libya, Egypt and among others. This has always led to massive destruction of property worth trillions of shillings and loss of million lives. Furthermore, Insufficient investment, limited market access opportunities and supply side constraints, unsustainable debt burdens, historically declining levels of official development assistance and the impact of HIV/AIDS are some of the factors that have played a role according to United Nations Department of Economic and social affairs.

In 1986, a representative from Africa made this comment during World Commission on Environment and Development public hearing “If the desert is growing, forest disappearing, malnutrition increasing, and people in urban areas living in very bad conditions, it is not because we are lacking resources but the kind of policy implemented by our rulers, by the elite group. Denying people rights and peoples’ interests is pushing us to a situation where it is only the poverty that has a very prosperous future in Africa and it is our hope that the World Commission on Environment and Development will not overlook at these problems of human rights in Africa and will put emphasis on it. Because it is only free people, people who have rights, who are mature and responsible citizens, who then participate in the development and in the protection of the environment”  WCED Public Hearing, Nairobi, 23 September1986. However, after 25 years down the road, given the chance to present in a similar public hearing like that, representatives from Africa might still repeat this similar comment because a negligible success has been realized since then.

Therefore, to attain sustainable development in African countries, there is need to value harmony among human beings and between humanity and nature, this has to be streamlined and spearheaded by the authorities in power to ensure the integration of economic and ecological factors in the law and into decision-systems within countries in order to match at the international level. There is need also to embrace democracy as Sens’1986 puts it, “there is no famine in a true democracy”. Democracy would actually be a solution to all problems in Africa and this would facilitate sustainable development.



  1. ngoziokei Says:

    I agree that Africa’s effort to achieve sustainable development have being hindered by conflicts and civil war, insufficient investment for business growth, poverty/famine, population size which lead to increase in demand of goods/resources, corrupt/greedy government, limited market access opportunities, impact of AIDS and diseases, unsustainable dept burdens, non democractic government, abuse of power and lack of sufficient education plans/policies established. In one Africa country or the other, people and government officials are experiencing some of these factors which had made sustainability a challenge to face in the past, present and future. A strategic management is necessary for a national sustainability development. We have to look into leadership, planning, implementation/monitoring, learning and adptation in our different countries and Africa as a continent.

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