Following the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 30 million Africans were living in extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $1.90 per day. Thirty-four percent of Africans, or over 445 million people, were living in poverty prior to the pandemic. By that point, the global average was only about nine times lower than this number.
In 2015 the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its blueprint for world peace and prosperity. At its core are 17 SDGs with 169 targets for poverty, health, education, inequality, economic growth and climate actions that member countries agreed to achieve by 2030.
As the halfway mark approaches, and with the pandemic worsening the situation, Africa isn’t likely to meet SDG 1 – to end poverty in all its forms for 97% of the population. Africa has the largest share of extreme poverty rates globally, with 23 of the world’s poorest 28 countries at extreme poverty rates above 30%.
At the opening of the 4th International biennial conference of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA,) on Wednesday in Lagos. Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Board Chairman, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) says the continent needs more researchers to tackle the issue of extreme poverty and other challenges facing its people. According to him, universities in Africa must also move fast and intentionally to be able to liberate the continent from the shackles of multifaceted challenges, occasioned by lack of quality education.
“As Africans, we need to increase the number of researchers in Africa, as that is the only sure way we will solve Africa’s problem of extreme poverty and other challenges. “I want to start my remarks with two quotations from Africa’s great sons, one of whom is Mwalimu Nyerere, who said that ‘While the rest of the world may walk, Africa must run.’ “The second quotation is from Nelson Mandela who said ‘Education is the best way of transforming society.’
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“Indeed, we do believe that education is the best way through which we will transform Africa. “Africa has gone through a number of setbacks. “To me, the biggest one was the wrong advice given to African governments by the world bank which claimed that higher education is a private good and that African countries need not invest in higher education. “African universities and scholars, have now multiplied from about 200 universities to over 2,500 universities in two decades, and the number is increasing. This is a good sign for Africa. “But that is still much smaller than the number of universities in China which has the same population with Africa,” he said.
In her address, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, vice chancellor, University of Lagos, said Africa had the capability to realise her full potential in development, culture and peace and to establish flourishing, inclusive and prosperous societies. She noted that there was the confidence that Africa had what was required to transform the continent for good.
“We thus commit to act together toward achieving a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. “We also aspire for an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s renaissance, among many others,” she said.
Ogunsola noted that over the years, the ARUA had been at the forefront of redirecting the collective thinking toward intentionally addressing the existential crisis that bedeviled the people of Africa and.