African education progresses, but other areas lacking

African countries are making progress in primary schooling for boys and girls alike—but other targets are unlikely to be attained, according to a United Nations report on Wednesday.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) report details how African countries are faring in meeting all eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

The report warns there are “no quick-fix solutions” for most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which would fail to meet the target dates for goals.

“Where governments show political will, the goals can kick-start solid progress,” ECA executive secretary KY Amoako said in a preface to the report.

The report makes a number of recommendations to get Africa back on track, including easy “quick win” strategies for immediate results—investing in infrastructure, boosting the private sector and streamlining governance.

It notes that some African countries are on course to meet key goals, while many more can meet the target date “with the right policies”.

The report, The Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Progress and Challenges, was issued to coincide with the World Summit at the UN in New York.

It notes that despite the continent’s slow pace of development, some countries registered significant progress during the past five years, but some suffered reverses in crucial areas towards attaining the goals targeted for 2015.

Zimbabwe and countries in conflict situations, such as Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are cited as having registered economic reversals in recent years.

Several countries that have done well economically, including Botswana, were found to have encountered “reversals” in life expectancy, due to the ravages of HIV/Aids, said explained Augustine Fosu, author of the report and director of the economic and social-policy division of the ECA.

The report finds that North African countries will most likely meet all the MDGs by 2015, and some sub-Saharan African countries, such as Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda and Gambia, are “well on track” to achieve several of the targets.

The report also indicates that the MDGs have served “as a catalyst to spur sluggish programmes that can bring the continent close to its development aims”.—Sapa-DPA

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