The 2020 edition of the Africa SDG Index and dashboards report, published by the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), shows the status of 52 African countries in terms of progress towards the 17 SDGs. The 2020 edition also introduces a new index on the 2030 Agenda’s overarching ambition of leaving no one behind.

The SDG indexes, dashboards, and related reports use the most recent publicly available data from official sources such as the World Bank, World Health Organization, and International Labour Organization, as well as research centers and NGOs. The data in the 2020 Africa Index are aligned as closely as possible with official SDG indicators, as well as some measures of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063, for a total of 97 indicators covering all 17 SDGs.

According to the analysis in terms of the current status and trends toward achieving the SDGs:

  • SDG 13 (climate action) is the only Goal for which most African countries are on track. SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) is also an area of better performance for Africa overall.
  • The goals facing the greatest challenges are SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).
  • Tunisia is the top-ranking country in Africa, with the findings showing that the country is 67% of the way towards achieving the SDGs.
  • In terms of sub-regions, North Africa performed the best overall, and Central Africa performed the worst overall.
  • Seychelles and Equatorial Guinea are not included in the Index due to insufficient data coverage.

The “leave no one behind” Index and Dashboards, new in the 2020 edition, aim to reveal inequalities hidden by the averages shown in the overall SDG Index. However, the authors explain, “since the underlying data are not disaggregated, this analysis does not capture other common inequalities” including those related to geography (urban/rural), ethnic or racial, or the status of the vulnerable population groups such people with disabilities, migrants, and older people.

The analysis finds significant coherence between the overall SDG ranking and the leaving no one behind rankings. Most countries that score highly on the SDG Index also have better scores in leaving no one behind, and have less inequality within their populations. A few countries that have low LNOB scores still show good performance on the SDG Index due to good scores on environmental goals, but they face more issues related to social inequalities, the authors report.

On responding to COVID-19 in 2020, the report indicates that countries in Africa have reallocated resources and took early measures to lock down activity and curb the spread of the virus. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this prevented the speed of growth in cases and mortality that occurred elsewhere.

The authors suggest that all countries should adopt a sustainability approach to rebuilding from the pandemic, and that governments in Africa are “relatively well positioned to do so” following significant efforts to incorporate the SDGs into national strategies and development plans, identify units of government to coordinate SDG implementation, and select specific SDG targets for prioritization. The lack of funding and resources is one of the most important challenges both in terms of SDG implementation and monitoring, the authors emphasize.

The progress and challenges that African countries are facing in implementing the SDGs will be discussed during the seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in March 2021. This event will be convened under the theme “Building forward better: towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.” Agenda items will include a regional review of, and follow up to, implementation of the two Agendas.

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