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Business News of Saturday, 29 May 2021

Source: GNA

Africa needs to close financing gap to recover from coronavirus - Ken Ofori-Atta

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance

Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance on Friday said to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa needs to close a financing gap of around US$425 billion in the next three years.

He said the continent had to also ramp up vaccine rollouts, build organizational capital of the private sector, and invest in long-term and climate-conscious sustainable development.

Mr Ofori-Atta made the remarks at the launch and presentation of the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Budget Report in Accra.

He said urgent investments in sustainable and technology-enhanced agriculture, renewable energy and transport, digitalisation, biodiversity, and human capital development were an absolute necessity for the country’s recovery.

"So we can no longer talk about the Decade of Action without talking about the impact of COVID-19; and the need to ensure that we recalibrate our economies to leapfrog towards the agreed deadline," he added.

The Minister said as at the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDGs financing gap in developing countries stood at $2.5 trillion; and about 10 months into the pandemic the financing gap had widened by 70 percent, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and stood at $ 4.2 trillion.

He said since the launch of the baseline report, the country had published two more reports, with the 2020 SDGs Budget Report being the most recent.

Mr Ofori-Atta said with less than nine years to 2030, the deadline for realising the SDGs, the government had concurred with the United Nations on the need for accelerated action to enable the country to realise the ambitious yet critical objectives that "we have set for ourselves in the SDGs."

He said the Pandemic had exacerbated the challenges of achieving the Global and Country level SDG Goals but "we can not despair."

On the reasons for developing the SDGs budget report, the Minister said in 2018 when the SDGs Baseline Report was launched, the country recognised the challenges that countries were facing with accessing critical financing for the implementation of the SDGs.

He said the country also recognised that aligning the domestic budget to the SDGs was the first step towards optimising the country’s current financial resources for Agenda 2030.

The Minister said that process could place government in a better position to encourage the injection of more private capital in the implementation of the SDGs.

Dr. Angela Lusigi, the UNDP Resident Representative, commended Ghana for the continued leadership regarding the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

She said the report was a demonstration of Ghana's continued commitment to the SDGs and to sign onto the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, where it continued to invest and track its investments in the 2030 agenda.

"In this process, you have redesigned the budget system to enable the tracking of all investments towards the SDGs. This continues to allow us to understand the investments in each of the 17 goals and identify any gaps and opportunities for action," she said.

She said UNDP was opened to continued partnership to get the most out of the report and subsequent reports in terms of action and results.

"This is particularly important as we seek to contribute to national priorities and the Government's COVID 19 recovery efforts to get back on track to the SDGs during this last decade of action," she added.

The UNDP Resident Representative said they would like to work together with the media to highlight the lessons learned from Ghana's leadership in the exercise so that the rest of the world could learn from the good practice.

Dr Felix Addo-Yobo, Director, Development Policy at the National Development Planning Commission said the Commission saw great value in the SDGs tracking system and would continue to support it.

He called for a strategic partnership to build a robust data system for the continuity of government business.

The Director said the report had helped to identify certain goals that were underfunding and needed much consideration.