African Influencers For Development 

Monthly Digest

Welcome to our monthly digest, bringing you the key highlights from projects and initiatives implemented under the Regional Bureau for Africa.

Vol 12. | March Digest

Women have heroically faced the COVID-19 pandemic as doctors, nurses,  social workers, policy makers, business owners – and reminded all why their seats at the decision-making table must increase. This is not just a matter of rights and equality, it is one of survival for African economies,  countries and societies. Every year on the African continent, $60 billion is lost to gender iequality. Yet when women have equal access to education and equal opportunities to contribute to the economy, it is the entire continent that gets lifted up.

As Africa charts its path recovery path from the socioeconomic downfall of the COVID-19 pandemic, special attention must be given to women, because they have suffered proportionate  setbacks over the past two years. Women and girls were the first to lose jobs or education opportunities, taking on more unpaid jobs such as caregivers, facing gender-based violence, teen pregnancies and child marriages. We must act now act now to stem the slide in recent gains on all these scores. Training to equip our staff to respond is key – and our  Benin Country Office is showing the way.


In our  volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, where everything can change in a heartbeat – we must respond fast to the climate emergency – whose impacts are not neutral, with women  disproportionately affected.  We must  act in a fair and just manner that protects the right to development for African women, and lets them take the lead in mitigation and adaptation, building on examples in Lesotho,  Namibia, Ghana or Comoros…


In this edition of our monthly digest, we hear from a key African feminist, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, recall key messages on what the AfCFTA means for women, and welcome the 2nd cohort of our African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Programme, which was born out of UNDP’s conviction that a new generation of young African women can be nurtured to become world leaders and serve the achievement of sustainable development.  


-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 11. | February Digest

The health status of our planet is at its worst and all indicators flashing red. Only a short lapse after our global gathering in Glasgow, mobilization – and maybe even interest – seems to have died down. In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change once again sounded the alarm, highlighting we are currently scarring the environment not only for decades, but for centuries. Equally distressing is the realization that global warming is already impacting 40% of the world’s population.


In this month’s edition of our Digest, we are exploring one of UNDP’s six signatures solutions: Environment. From the Sahel to Mauritius, Africa does not rest still at the planet’s bedside. People and government are mobilizing to protect our collective resources – the essence of our existence and survival. Developing pathways to live in harmony with nature while accelerating development, UNDP is working with policymakers, civil society, young innovators and citizens, such as in Togo, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, or Ghana to lead the way towards greater mitigation and a critically urgent adaptation to the climate changes we are living through. 


-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 10. | January Digest

2022 must be a year of reborn collective global action, greater equity and just transitions. Omicron has reminded us that there is just no other way for any of us to lead a sustainable future. We must seize the opportunity of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to build a more just and equitable world. In this first edition of the year, we highlight perspectives on some of the areas where innovative solutions and reinforced actions will be essential to accelerate Africa’s development in 2022. These include tackling violent extremism, gender inequality, climate change, digital divides and growing development disparities in all countries on the continent. We also share the first episode of what we hope will be a series of conversations on the Big Ideas Transforming Africa.


-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 9. | December Digest

The year 2021 unearthed a new expression of global inequity: “vaccine nationalism.” As the pandemic shows increasingly complex waves and mutations, and its socioeconomic impact deepens, the efforts African countries make will remain central to success. Continued solidarity from the United Nations will also be key to attaining success beyond recovery, towards 2030.

Our work as the UN’s development agency will continue to support these efforts. All UNDP offices across the Africa region have scaled up action to support the COVID-19 response, and are also working in support of reducing growing inequalities: addressing the climate emergency, and maximizing the value of UNDP’s role as an integrator within the UN development system. One way to do this is by opening the way for new ideas on fighting pandemic shocks by providing cutting-edge knowledge products, and accelerating socioeconomic progress by establishing the basis for a stronger development future.

This edition of the RBA Digest takes a special look at the leading knowledge UNDP Africa has provided in 2021 – which will continue to make a difference for Africa in 2022 and beyond.

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 8. | September Digest

The world stands on the cusp of a historic tipping point: a clean energy revolution that will radically reshape our economies and societies. The energy revolution has already begun, but how fast and how fairly it happens is the greatest challenge of our time. The energy transition cannot be done at the expense of lower income countries. It must include achieving clean energy access for all, which will enable the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. Increasing energy access will spur catalytic investments, power the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit we see across the continent and bring renewed prosperity to communities. 

In this edition of the RBA Digest, we highlight a series of shifts to accelerate the energy transition in Africa. In DR Congo and Zimbabwe, UNDP is working with government to rehabilitate and equip health centers with electricity and raising ambition for increased life-saving energy health solutions. In Uganda and Ghana, we are funding businesses to adopt clean fuels and energy – efficient improvement practices. 

As countries define their pathways out of the COVID-19 crisis, African leaders now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make bold decisions to secure a just energy transition – towards a greener, more sustainable future.

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 7. | August Digest

As Africa grapples with new peaks of COVID-19 infections amidst a third – sometimes fourth – wave, thinly stretched health systems remain overwhelmed,  even as they fight back. ‘Vaccine famine’ is today’s reality, reminding us that sustainable solutions require homegrown capacities to produce vaccines against COVID-19, and the next health crisis. 

Grounded on actions to promote inclusion, homegrown innovation, and the use of digital technology, this edition of the RBA Digest spotlights some of UNDP’s work with the African Union, governments, partners and people on the ground to tackle vaccine inequity, respond to crisis impacts and prepare for future shocks. We press ahead, taking action on the roadmap to building back better.

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 6. | July Digest

Through the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Africa is voting for trade as a means for implementing the SDGs. The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the urgency in keeping trade open, and in producing those goods and services for the #OneAfricanMarket. Doing this will trigger a #MadeinAfrica revolution – changing destinies – and edifying a choice of trade, not aid, as the gateway to Africa’s socioeconomic prosperity. In this issue of the RBA Digest, we spotlight trade – from local communities digitizing their operations to expand reach, to youth claiming the AfCFTA, to women setting new best practices in how to create good trade deals. To better support women, UNDP has developed a new partnership with the International Trade Centre (ITC) focusing on small businesses, women and young entrepreneurs. The world’s largest free-trade area is taking shape – and we must all work together to ensure its promise becomes a reality.” 

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 5. | June Digest

“What does our future look like? By 2030, only 9 years ahead, Africa’s Youth population (15-24 years) will have increased by 42%. If harnessed for its full potential, Africa’s youth will be the cohort that broke the commodity curse; the cycles of poverty; and the strong man of inequality.

Africa’s youth are leading the fourth industrial revolution. This past month alone, Tanzania, Malawi, and The Gambia showcased, through UNDP Accelerator Labs, home-grown solutions for the continent’s unique challenges. 

This edition of UNDP’s RBA Digest recognizes youth, for their potential and expertise, and for their role as leaders, including in bringing peace in conflict-stricken areas. Our role, as development practitioners, is to bring the weight of programming in support for their ingenuity. We are disrupting the way we work, ceding to a new reality – of youth as the spine of our offering.” 

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 4. | May Digest

“May is ‘Africa Month’. It is a month-long celebration of the motherland – this time focused on the rich, diverse culture and heritage that make Africans who they are today. Culture is our past, present and future. Art and the creative industry have the power to preserve the dignity and confidence of Africa’s people. Today, the strength of Africa’s culture presents the world with transformative legacies. Legacies that have stitched societies together – promoting resilience, even amidst great adversity. In the RBA May Digest, we feature key themes and discussions, centered on Africa’s art and culture. It is a reminder of what our role should be in stewarding the rich depth of these assets, and in holding on to their transformative power to foster Africa’s inclusive, green and sustainable development.” 

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol 3. | April Digest

“In this April issue of the RBA Monthly Digest, we spotlight a continued celebration of women standing tall as leaders in their communities, working to create solutions to societal challenges. From Burkina Faso to Mozambique; Guinea Bissau to Chad, and more, the resilience of women leading the way for community solutions is evident. UNDP continues to work on the ground for resilient communities, empowered lives.”

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol. 2 | February Digest

“The Africa Borderlands Centre establishes a new paradigm for borderland development, and could be one of our best chances to leave no one behind for the 2030 Agenda. UNDP is investing in elevating borderland communities, majority of whom are women and youth, to increase their access to jobs and social protection, while using the COVID 19 recovery process to leap forward better in tackling systemic bottlenecks faced in borderlands.”

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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Vol. 1 | January Digest

“Welcome to the RBA Mothly Digest! In theory, pandemics are levellers – anyone can catch a virus. In practice, poverty, inequality and marginalization have resulted in highly differentiatied impacts. Africa has been disproportionately affected with 88% of SMEs in LCDs substaintially reducing operations. A stronger accelerated action for the SDGs. We are redoubling efforts to accompany African governments and peoples in attaining the Africa we want – with prosperity for all.”

-Ahunna Eziakonwa, RBA Director

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