Insights from ICASA: African Leadership in the Post-2015 Era

By Catherine Connor | December 17, 2013

At the beginning of the epidemic leaders didn’t want to engage, but then AIDS was acknowledged as a health issue and Presidents and Ministers of Health jumped in to tackle AIDS head on.

James Pursey/Swaziland

Sunday at ICASA I attended a session on African Leadership in the Post-2015 Era, an area of particular interest for EGPAF’s public policy and advocacy team.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe described a “seismic shift” happening on the continent that will impact what the post-2015 agenda looks like and the need for a new paradigm for thinking about how Africa approaches health and foreign aid. He noted that Africa has experienced remarkable economic growth since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were enacted over a decade ago – which means that Africa is better positioned to be a development partner, not just a recipient of development aid. Mr. Sidibe said that African countries need to think about domestic financing and alternative approaches for mobilizing resources, because relying on official development assistance (ODA) to provide HIV services means that countries aren’t really planning for the future.

Mr. Sidibe also stressed that there needs to be a strong goal on HIV and AIDS in whatever comes out of the post-2015 process. He said that such a goal needs to be visionary, otherwise AIDS will become an “orphan disease” and Africa will suffer for it. Mr. Sidibe said, “Africa should not be scared to have a bold agenda to shape our future differently.” He encouraged audience members to push their governments to make sure that the “unfinished business” from the health MDGs is prioritized beyond 2015.

Festus Mogae, Former President of Botswana, also provided some interesting commentary on the state of African leadership. At the beginning of the epidemic leaders didn’t want to engage, but then AIDS was acknowledged as a health issue and Presidents and Ministers of Health jumped in to tackle AIDS head on. However, he said that he is now seeing complacency, and he expressed concern that “just because we’ve tamed the tiger doesn’t mean we’ve killed it.” He said that any new political paradigm that does emerge needs to recognize that AIDS involves all parts of society – health, education, youth, gender, human rights, etc. – and “needs to be dealt with from all angles.”


Catherine Connor is EGPAF’s Senior Director of Public Policy
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Insights from ICASA is a blog series featuring the stories and thoughts of EGPAF experts and staff participating in and attending the 17th International Conference on STIs in Africa.