Expert round table forum on East Africa Community position on Sustainable Development Goals

Development Initiatives (DI)’s Africa Hub in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)’s Kenya Office held a round table forum (RTF) to discuss the East Africa Community (EAC) position on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The RTF was held on 7 April 2015.

Concerning the global vision to end poverty by 2030, the EAC says “Our vision and our responsibility is to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all.”

The RTF had participants from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania as well as representation from VENRO, which is the umbrella organisation of development non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Germany. VENRO was founded in 1995 and comprises around 120 NGOs.

FES and DI understand the importance of the EAC evaluating its development progress since the formation of the Millennium Development Goals 15 years ago, from which the SDGs followed. The RTF provided an opportune avenue for various stakeholders to reflect on progress, challenges, new trends and development agendas for the countries across the East Africa region.

Charles Lwanga-Ntale, Regional Director for DI in East and Central Africa, noted that it is a critical time for the EAC to evaluate its progress taking into account the challenges faced. He said: “As a region we must look to learn from the efforts we have made to realise the SDGs. Inequality is still undermining efforts to reduce poverty, which in turn undermines the achievement of the SDGs”.

Ambassador Niyongabo Edonias, Director General in the Ministry of Planning and Local Development in Burundi, said he found the session useful. “I find the analysis of Foreign Direct Investments [amounts to] surprisingly very little. This [increasing Foreign Direct Investments] is one way that we can finance achievements of the SDGs”.

Joshua Mugodo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Kenya acknowledged that the RTF was a key forum to bring together experts to share experiences and synergise development within the region. “We have to start having our local regional priorities right so that we can move together in achieving the SDGs. We have to start by looking at ourselves in our current status and then feed that into the global agenda of the MDGs” he explained.

There was a general consensus that there is need to identify specific contributions to the financing for development process in the EAC region. This should be used to influence key decision makers ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015.

“There is need to focus on understanding, identifying and applying different financial resources for maximum efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability” – Karen Rono-Bett, Development Initiatives

A full report from the RTF is being prepared and will be shared in due course. The hashtag for discussions on social media is #EACPositionOnSDGs.