Are SDGs the best development framework for Africa?

Several scholars have expressed a need to adapt radical post-development practices, which will serve as an alternative approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These approaches should serve the interests of indigenous people and countries in the global south, whose needs are often not considered in the SDG discourse.

Although the SDGs are among the most accepted and adopted development frameworks, the goals have not yielded many results for Africa, as reflected in the United Nation’s 2022 SDGs report. Thus, there is a need to re-visit and modify ancient worldviews, old traditions and practices, like Ubuntu, Swaraj, and degrowth approaches, to solve the escalating global social, economic and environmental issues Africans face.

Unlike the top-down approach that the SDGs ascribe to, the post-development theories are inclusive and seek to create radical change from a local level first and promote values of interconnectedness, dignity of labour, solidarity and respect for all life. The SDGs are constructed from a Western hegemony development model, which places high value on economic growth and capitalism.

Such a model conflicts with African worldviews on development that place value on people and the environment first.  Moreover, SDGs have led to global environmental degradation due to large economies’ pursuit of consumerism and industrialisation.

There is a need for the UN to empower local communities to enforce “locally-led adaptions and involve some re-localisation of trading relationships and energy production, alongside the equitable degrowth of wealthy economies”.  One way of doing that is to adapt the post-development practices mentioned above.

Swaraj’s post-development theory, for example, can provide solutions to climate change, biodiversity and ecological challenges and any other matters related to the environment. This worldview respects planetary boundaries and acknowledges that species have rights and should not be exploited. It also believes in values such as social justice and equity.

Swaraj’s approach is more inclusive, as it empowers people to be part of the decision-making process and considers the physical, spiritual, cultural and intellectual aspects of a human being about the decision taken.  Although SDGs 13 to 16 encompass similar values, there has not been much progress on these goals highlighted in the UN SDG report of 2022.

The degrowth approach is another development worldview that should be widely adopted in development discourse that seeks to solve African issues. In essence, the degrowth approach believes humans can have a good life with fewer things, and that economic growth is not the solution to all the world’s problems.

Bendell, a scholar, echoed similar sentiments when he noted that the ‘’spiral of self-destruction’’ caused by the SDGs can only stop if nations drop their allegiance to economic growth”.

Lastly, the degrowth approach believes countries should move from linear economic models and adopt more circular ones. This approach also calls for industries to reduce consumption and production and find innovative solutions to solve problems.

Although these post-development theories can provide tangible solutions to African issues, funds allocated to such development theories are insufficient to implement the activities that will foster the desired change. Equally, countries that adopt these approaches might not have the political muscles to fight against powerful and well-funded countries in the global north. Therefore, Global South countries should stand together and fund and support alternative post-development frameworks that will empower and transform Africa.

*Morna Ikosa is a seasoned communications and stakeholder engagement consultant. With a specific affinity for sustainable development and is a certified workplace violence and sexual harassment expert. Find her on LinkedIn or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Last modified on Sunday, 29 October 2023 18:44

Related items

  • Namport eyes Q3 2024 to start Lüderitz port expansion

    The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) is targeting to start port expansion at Lüderitz next year to facilitate the implementation of the country's impending oil and gas developments. 

  • NamRA eyes oil, gas and renewable sector taxes

    The Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) is structuring an independent auditing department that will only focus on the oil, gas and renewable sectors to curb tax evasion and maximise revenue collection in these sectors, an official has revealed.

  • EIF to conduct N$5m green hydrogen feasibility study

    The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF), through the Green Resilient Recovery Rapid Readiness Support in Namibia, will spend N$5 million on a green hydrogen feasibility study.

  • FNB extends N$83m to entrepreneurs

    First National Bank of Namibia, in partnership with the Namibia Special Risk Insurance Association (NASRIA), has extended N$83 million to address credit limitations issues faced by aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Joomla! Debug Console


Profile Information

Memory Usage

Database Queries