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Fixing Africa’s Budget Problems

Many African countries need to manage their public finances better to help them achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This will require governments and their development partners to adopt more incremental approaches that take greater account of the local context.

PRETORIA – Africans had good reason to be hopeful when all 193 United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Alongside their ambitious pledges to end poverty by 2030 and “leave no one behind,” world leaders aimed to mobilize a wide array of domestic and international resources to realize the SDGs. But rising national debt, a slowing global economy, and weakening multilateralism are preventing many African countries from making progress.

Faced with these headwinds, African governments must improve their own public financial management (PFM) to help realize the SDGs. This will require governments and their development partners to rethink the standard approaches to tackling Africa’s complex public-finance challenges.

Most African governments’ budgets are already under stress, even before SDG-related spending is taken into account. And the situation for some could become even more challenging as commodity prices fall and developed countries consider whether to raise interest rates.

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