Financing Africa’s Development: Challenges and Opportunities

16 February 2017

With the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as Agenda 2063, the continent’s own development vision, Africa aspires to fulfil major development objectives in the coming years. A key challenge for African countries to succeed in these ambitious development efforts will be to mobilise adequate financial resources, and use them effectively so as to reduce poverty, transform their economies, and create the conditions for inclusive and sustainable prosperity.

Considering the scale of Africa’s financing needs, the task is not an easy one. While assessing the amount of financial resources needed in a precise manner remains extremely complex, it is clear that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa will require the provision of an unprecedented level of development finance.

To be sure, meeting these financing needs will require strengthened international support through traditional channels such as official development aid, but not only. For the continent to meet the SDGs, enhanced resource mobilisation at the domestic level, from the private sector, and through innovative modes of finance will also play a critical role, as recognised in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the global development finance framework adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015.

In this context, an important concern also lies in debt levels, which, after a period of decline thanks to debt relief initiatives, are on the rise again in many African economies. In the first article of this issue, Claudia Roethlisberger and Junior Davis focus on debt sustainability and its implications for African countries’ efforts to finance their development. The authors offer insights on how African governments can simultaneously keep debt in check and secure sufficient funding to implement the SDGs.

This piece is complemented by a second contribution, in which Jean-Louis Arcand draws from the work of the E15 Expert Group on Finance and Development. This article presents concrete policy options through which policymakers can improve the enabling environment for trade and finance to better contribute to sustainable development.

In his contribution, Edward Chisanga looks specifically at the manufacturing sector, which will also be crucial in shaping Africa’s ability to meet the SDGs. The author suggests that African leaders would do well to strengthen their efforts to learn from the experience of various Asian economies.

Finally, Marianna Nerushay’s article focuses on investment provisions in regional trade agreements, underlining a gradual shift to providing states with ampler regulatory space in the pursuit of sustainable development objectives.

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