Academic journal article Journal of Economic Cooperation & Development

The Challenges and Implications of Sustainable Development in Africa: Policy Options for Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Economic Cooperation & Development

The Challenges and Implications of Sustainable Development in Africa: Policy Options for Nigeria

Article excerpt

The sustainable development debate is based on the assumption that societies need to manage three types of capital (economic, social and natural) which may be non-substitutable and whose consumption might be irreversible. Nonetheless, the problem of social and natural capital deterioration in SubSahara Africa is quite alarming without sufficient response mechanisms. The paper examines the challenges and implications of sustainable development in Africa with a special focus on Nigeria. Using descriptive and analytical approaches, the paper posits that the prominent challenges which hamper the achievement of sustainable development in Africa include; extreme poverty, rapid population growth rate, rapid urbanization, deforestation, environmental impact of extractive industries, rate of economic growth, rural development, climatic variability and natural environmental hazard. The paper considers the implications of these challenges on post 2015 agenda in Africa and suggests plausible policy options to address social, economic and environmental sustainability. Since it was discovered that inconsistency in government policies among others things have impacted adversely on the sustainability of Nigerian development, the paper furthermore recommends the establishment of the Sustainable Development Trust Fund (SDF) saddled with the responsibility of enforcing economic, social and environmental sustainability.

1. Introduction

While Africa maintained positive growth rates during the 2000, very few countries have achieved and maintained the growth rates necessary to reduce poverty. African countries still face the critical challenge of raising the rate of GDP growth and sustaining high growth rates over an extended period in order to accelerate progress towards meeting the MDGs (ECA, 2007). Indeed, annual economic growth for 1990-2000 averaged only 2.1 per cent, compared to the population growth rate of 2.8 per cent. The economic growth rate of the continent is less than the 7 per cent growth needed to reduce by half the proportion of Africans in poverty by 2015 (ECA, 2001a). However, African economies have continued to sustain the growth momentum of the early 2000s and recorded an overall average real GDP growth rate of 5.4 percent (ECA, 2007) . Moreover, despite substantial progress in macroeconomic stabilization, deregulation, privatization, trade, and exchange rates reform, structural constraints and institutional weaknesses continue to inhibit a vigorous supply response, as most economies still depend on primary products, exhibiting a high export concentration. While 60 per cent of all exports from Africa are agricultural (66 per cent of which is unprocessed); they account for only 8 per cent of the countries' GDP.

One of the major challenges facing developing countries is to provide an equitable standard of living, adequate food, clean water, safe shelter and energy, a healthy and secured environment, and educated public, and satisfying job for present and future generations (Iganigan & Unemhilin 2011). Of all these necessities, the first and most basic to human life and survival is enduring food security: which may be defined as a situation in which majority of the populace of a country have access to domestically produced food at affordable prices at all times (Akinboyo, 2008) . Historically, there has been a close correlation between economic growth and environmental degradation. As communities grow, so the environment declines. Unsustained economic growth has been starkly compared to the malignant growth of a cancer, because it eats away at the earth's ecosystem services which are its lifesupport system (Adams & Jeanrenaud, 2008). There is concern that, unless resource use is checked, modem global civilization will follow the path of ancient civilization that collapsed through overexploitations of their resource based (Diamond, 1997).

The crave for attainment of sustainable development has led to the development of various tools and measures for structuring and conducting sustainable development policy analyses. …

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