Mission 2023: Applying the SDGs in the South East (2)

South East

We ended last week on SDG5. More importantly, thanks to many readers who responded to say they enjoyed it despite the seriousness of the matter. There is much information available on the SDGs. Get involved, dear reader. Learn how to focus that WhatsApp group and other platforms to be part of the solution

Universities in the South East should rise to the challenge of educating citizens about the SDGs and their implementation. No fewer than 14 universities across the world have developed curricula to drive knowledge of the SDGS. None from Africa.

We are helping to mainstream the SDGs, so it does not suffer the fate of the MDGs in our land.

SDG6: Availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation.

Sanitation is a growing challenge. Onitsha and Aba continuously feature among cities with the worst sanitation status in Africa. Governments in the region need to device sustainable waste management policies and practices. Communities, NGOs and individuals should also get into the business of converting waste to wealth sustainably. Water, too, requires bold measures. The every-compound-a-borehole current practice will not suffice given the low water levels.

Water links to agriculture. Whatever happened to the River Basin Authorities in the region? What have they done lately? With the integration, the region should consider irrigation schemes urgently to push agriculture.

SDG7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

From the initial attempt to “ring-fence” Aba by an entrepreneur to the “captive power” schemes of the Rural Electrification Agency, the region has worked hard in efforts to get steady power. A key goal circa 2023 should be stable and sustainable electricity. Take advantage of the various policy options available through NERC. Focus on renewables and alternative energy: solar, biomass, coal, and hydro in places like Oguta. Power projects should feature prominently in community development efforts going forward.

SDG8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

State Governments should drive this process through the creation of enabling environments in their states. The Ease of Doing Business scores for the states here are poor. Improvements needed with the bureaucracy and the many taxes and levies that seek to punish entrepreneurs for attempting or for succeeding. Remove the bottlenecks.

Akulueuno will only happen sustainably when the bureaucracy is supportive rather than constraining entrepreneurship. Many investors ran from the South East to the South West and some to Ghana for this reason. They are homeboys keen on contributing.

The unemployment of young people is a threat to stability and growth.


SDG9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

Infrastructure is instrumental to economic and social development. Robust infrastructure opens territories and creates enabling environments. Ebonyi is currently enjoying the infrastructure boom of a road network as Anambra did over the last three governors and as did Enugu City that Sullivan Chime gentrified. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi by providing infrastructure has made Nsukka de facto and dejure second city of Enugu State. The South East needs the proper foundation of roads, potable water and power primarily.

Abia State has just created an Infrastructure Development Council to steer developments, drawing in the Abia State Road Maintenance Agency, Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Programme (NEWMAP), the Rural Access and Mobility Project and the Ministries of Education and Works. Governor Ikpeazu is chairman to underscore the seriousness and has outlined construction/rehabilitation of 20 roads by September 2019 (100 days). It should commence the process of taking Abia off the laggard’s table in infrastructure.

The South East should have a grand plan to tackle erosion. It should involve all the capacities of the people, including the universities with soil science, engineering and other cognate disciplines. Get on with it, please.

Industrialisation is central to creating jobs. Too many young people wallow in the villages and towns of the South East with no work. Create synergy between the many entrepreneurs in the evolving ICT arena and upscaling their innovations to become products with commercial viability.

SDG10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

The inequality among the states of the South East affronts the belief in onye aghala nwanneya. The region should devise a common approach to development that would reduce inequality. It must tweak FG policies to suit its needs and values. The FG has reportedly spent N300bn on the Social Investment Programme. In the South East, it has concentrated on Anambra State for the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme. One of the aims is poverty reduction and increased enrolment. The state that needs it the most in the region is Ebonyi with a 56% poverty rate, similar to northern states and the highest number of out-of-school children in the South East. If the government shared N300b regionally, the South East would get N50b and deploy it on a needs-basis. The South East should aim for 100% school enrolment and poverty rates below 10% across board by 2023.

We will conclude next week with SDGs11-17.


Chido Nwakanma

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