Masika, a resilient mother living in the conflict prone countryside of Uganda’s Kasese district, embodies the struggles faced by many in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Years of conflict, insufficient resources, and limited opportunities have hindered her dreams of a better future for her six children. However, a glimmer of hope emerges in the form of the Global Public Investment (GPI), which has the potential to transform lives and foster sustainable development across the region.
Uganda, like many SSA countries, grapples with critical development financing gaps. Insufficient funding for social services, such as healthcare, education, and water, coupled with a lack of infrastructure investment, including roads, railways, hospitals, schools, etc. has impeded progress. To put this into perspective, Uganda’s per capita expenditure on health has averaged at a mere US$9 for the last ten years far below the minimum recommendation of US$84 or the US$271 estimates for achieving the Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Over 40% of the population spends from Out of Pocket to meet their healthcare needs and yet over 10 million are living in abject poverty and over 30 million on the brink of poverty exacerbated by the recent impact of the COVID pandemic.
Acquiring more loans is no longer a viable option for Uganda, as the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds the World Bank recommended threshold of 50% (for developing countries), currently standing at 53%. A significant portion 17% of the government’s recurrent expenditure, is allocated to debt and interest payments. This financial strain restricts the government’s fiscal ability to allocate adequate resources to vital sectors and hence hampers the potential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Masika’s story is not an isolated one. The fate of her children and countless others across SSA hangs in the balance. Without access to quality education and healthcare, nearly a billion children by 2050 will be left behind. This dire situation is further compounded by the looming threats of the climate crisis, pandemics, and epidemics. The urgency to address these challenges has never been greater.
The GPI offers a glimmer of hope for Masika’s family and the entire SSA region. This innovative funding mechanism provides an opportunity for countries like Uganda to contribute their fair share of resources to a basket fund. Since drawing from the pool is based on the extent of need, Uganda will have the opportunity to access meaningful financing based on her agreed priorities aligned with GPI focus. This means critical sectors like healthcare, education, water, and infrastructure, will have the much-needed impetus for progress.
The Global Public Investment represents a ray of hope for Masika, her family, and millions of others in sub-Saharan Africa. By addressing critical development financing gaps and directing resources to priority areas, the GPI has the potential to unlock Africa’s potential for sustainable growth. However, it is imperative that this initiative is supported by strong international collaboration and complemented by comprehensive strategies that address the multifaceted challenges faced by the region. With concerted efforts, Masika’s dream of a better future for her children can become a reality.
Innovations for Development supports the GPI efforts through her membership with the Global Public Investment Network (gpin). Our efforts continue to create a public understanding of the concept of GPI, build synergy with like-minded networks, individuals and organisations. We believe together we can revolutionise public financing especially for developing regions of the world.