Measuring progress towards sustainable development in Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The ‘sustainability’ of developmental programmes is one of the most elusive goals of any government services delivery system. ‘Sustainable development’ is an increasingly important umbrella concept to integrate various desired developmental outcomes of governmental interactions with its society. The concept is still a fuzzy one that frequently generates controversy. This article attempts to give an operational meaning to the term ‘sustainability’. It also distinguishes different dimensions of sustainability and suggests a concrete measuring instrument to determine progress towards achieving these different dimensions of sustainable development outcomes in Africa. According to Bhamra (2015:1), “...social, economic, environmental and governance systems cannot be treated in isolation. For the systems to be concurrently aligned in the development paradigm, the first step is to develop a meta-metric framework that identifies indicators and their respective roles in the development processes. A clear comprehensive metric system that not just focuses on economic indicators but includes social, environmental and governance systems is a pre-requisite”. This article starts off with a brief conceptualisation of development and of sustainability and then proceeds to summarise the main international approaches to sustainable development, and the way in which it is applied in Africa. The article concludes by identifying the main elements of a systematic generic instrument to measure sustainable development outcomes, focusing on the African context.