Identifying key hurdles to achieving the MDGs: realities from Africa for the post-2015 agenda

Development Policy06 May 2013Reinout Meijnen
Global Progress: Fallouts of Africa

Africa has made progress albeit menaces in terms of governance, conflicts, sustainability among others hinder progress or at times erode gains.

The World Bank 2008 poverty estimates, indicate the developing world was close to halving income poverty by 2015 but the rate of decline in Africa is too slow to achieve the target. Africa made the least progress in reducing poverty with about 41 percent of the 2015 target according to the Africa 2012 MDG progress report.

Globally, new HIV infections has dropped by 21 percent from 2.6 million in 1997 to 1.9 million in 2010, Africa which is only 12 percent of the world’s population accounted for 68 percent of people living with HIV in 2010 according to a UNAID 2010 report.

By 2008, though the world had reduced maternal mortality by 47 percent according to the UN, Africa’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) was 590 deaths per 100,000 live births meaning in 2008 a woman in Africa died from pregnancy or childbirth every 2.5 minutes.

The MDGs target of the proportion of population using improved drinking water has globally been met in advance of 2015 but not in Africa. The increase from 56 percent in 1990 to 66 percent in 2010 in Africa is considered slow to reach the continent-wide target of 78 percent by 2015.


Some of the challenges for Africa’s poor progress include, conflicts; corruption and governance; sustainability issues; regional peculiarities; socio-cultural hurdles.


Civil strife, coup d’états and conflicts in Africa present a formidable front to progress. United Nations’ 2010 MDG progress report indicates over 42 million people are currently displaced by conflicts, four-fifths of them in developing countries. Rebels of Central African Republic have collapsed a constitutionally elected government after the Malian government was toppled in similar fashion in 2012. Pockets of atrocities are reportedly caused in the Chadian Republic by an attempted coup. The seeming insincere commitment of Western powers to curb the menace as formulated in MDG 8: forming global partnership for development is still an unpalatable situation. Developed economies have moved from support of human dignity to protection of economic interest and promotion of a neo-colonialist agenda. In an post on, a transcript is published of a speech in which Belgian MP Laurent Louis states it in strong wording: “under the appearance of good actions, we only intervene to defend financial interests in a complete neo-colonialist mindset”. The United Nations is indebted with the naked imperative of examining the approaches and motives of intervention of Western Powers in conflicts in Africa.

Corruption and Governance

Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index report has all African countries, with the exception of Botswana, scoring below 50 percent. This indicates how pervasive corruption is perceived to be in Africa. This does not only weaken governance and administrative frameworks but also widen inequalities.


Aid cuts erupting from the economic crisis is said to have reversed most gains in the MDGs. Because policy approaches adopted at the local level in most countries, instead of offering sustainable development securities are temporal fixes of development concerns.

Socio-cultural hurdles

Promoting gender equality and empowering women is especially difficult because of cultural practices (inequitable inheritance, and household power dynamics), limited economic opportunities and limited political power holding by females in Africa. High fertility rates leading to population fast outpacing development is still a concern in Africa. According to the UNFPA, the United Nations puts that, out of the 58 countries categorized high-fertility countries in 2010, 39 of them, representing over 67 percent, are in Africa.

Conclusion and the Post 2015 Agenda

Real and sustained progress made with the post 2015 agenda especially in Africa will depend on the extent to which policy makers of the global community go in tackling issues of sustainability of efforts, achievements and progress; corruption and failure in governance; insincere resolution of conflicts; socio-cultural and attitudinal hurdles in Africa.


AUC, UNECA, AfDB and UNDP (2012): Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals.

United Nations (2011): The Millennium Development Goals Report 2011, New York

UNAIDS: Global HIV/AIDS Response: Epidemic Update and Health Sector Progress towards Universal Access. (2013): The Facts And Fallacies Of The War In Mali.

Transparency International (2012): Corruption Perceptions Index for 2012

UNFPA (2011): State of world population 2011: People and Possibilities in a world of 7 billion