United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) sub regional officer for Southern Africa Bineswaree Bolaky says the the incremental spending needs for financing SDGs in Africa is about US$614 billion to US$630 billion per year.

And Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) secretary general Chileshe Kapwepwe says there is need for infrastructure development that will support Africa’s capacity to attain the SDGs.

Meanwhile, former Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) president Chrispin Mphuka says African countries need to invest more in structural transformation and create more manufacturing industries to prevent their commodity prices from fluctuating.

The trio was speaking during a panel discussion at the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sub regional center for Southern Africa in Lusaka, Wednesday.

“In the Southern African Region and even in many of the African sub-Regions, there is still need for work to be done in terms of costing the SDGs. What is it going to cost to implement the SDGs? Governments need to come up with resource mobilization strategies. If you look at the estimates for financing SDGs, it calls for concern. There is lack of estimates in terms of what is it going to cost to achieve the SDGs. The incremental spending needs for financing SDGs in Africa is about US$614 billion to US$630 billion per year. We need to bear in mind that the SDGs is a ambitious development agenda and I think in the seven African Regions, there is still an exercise to be made in terms of costing these SDGs and starting to comprehend how much it will cost per year to achieve them, and come up with a medium term or long term financing strategies,” Bolaky said.

She said African countries should move beyond just rhetoric about mobilizing finances for achieving the SDGs.

“We know that financing the SDGs is a challenge but I think we need also move beyond the rhetoric of just talking about mobilizing finances. I think there is also a need on the continent to think about how to use additional finance productively, we need to start talking about governance reforms governance reforms and how do we visit productively. And as UNCA, we are trying to sensitize member states on this necessity to have all these different national, [and] regional development frameworks to speak to one another because African countries don’t have only agenda 2030 to implement, there is agenda 2063,” said Bolaky.

And Kapwepwe said there was need for reinforce infrastructure development that would support Africa’s capacity to attain the SDGs.

“I haven’t seen the infrastructure that would support the productive capacity of achieving the SDGs. So I think we should take a step back and reinforce data capacities in all our countries, the strategies, the technical law and we move in collecting data in a very basic and raw way. For us as a regional block, we are focusing on utilising trade. For example the president believes that trade is the engine of the economic growth. And if we digitalized trade, we have e-commerce and platforms where people can trade online across the continent or across the region and open up markets that were not there before. So we need to focus on how we can leverage on digitalization and make sure that we involve our youths also who are the huge part of our population,” said Kapwepwe.

Meanwhile, Mphuka said African countries needed to invest more in structural transformation to prevent their commodity prices from fluctuating.

“There is need for us to see how we put green on industrial growth [like] agro processing industry that is critical. It will allow us to move forward and have a growth that is much more robust. The problem we are seeing now is that everyone has remained largely exporting commodities. And we know one thing for sure, that as long as African countries remain producing commodities, their prices will be fluctuated. So we need manufacturers because manufacturers do not have prices which keep fluctuating and that is why this story for structural transformation is very critical for Africa,” said Mphuka.