In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They recognised that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health, education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests, building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”. While every other continent is on a radical struggle toward attaining the Sustainable Developmental Goals, Africa and Asia seem to be the slowest in adopting and adapting the goals in practice, making it relatively unrealistic in nine years. Taking Nigeria as a case study to understand this weighty challenge, let’s consider the factors which could inhibit the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda.


Factors that may affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda

Nigeria is the largest economy (crude oil & agriculture) in Africa and the seventh-most populous country in the world. The country’s film industry, known as Nollywood, is one of the largest film producers in the world, second only to Bollywood India. At this time, three Nigerians are on the top ten list of billionaires in Africa. Despite these endearing resources and capabilities, Nigeria is known as the world’s poverty capital, where about 86.9 million people live in severe poverty. This draws a parallel with other factors that may affect achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.


Poor Governance

African countries are still struggling with fledgling democracy which is occasionally maimed by military regimes. Unlike most of the Western world with older dynasties, monarchies, and democratically stable governance, Africa’s path towards self-discovery involves the experimentation of various apparatus of leadership that often ends in dire needs and dependence on western influences.


Governance is how governments exercised power to manage and distribute a country’s social and economic resources (Ogundiya, 2010). It is the process by which a state’s affairs are managed effectively in the areas of public accountability, fiscal responsibility, administrative and political responsibility, responsiveness, and transparency, all of which must show the interest of the overseers and the leaders. The basic features of good governance include the conduct of comprehensive management in which all the critical stakeholders are allowed to have a voice in the decision-making process.


Poor governance is centralised around the idea of corruption within a system and lack of transparency and accountability, arbitrary policymaking, and the cheating of those who are governed. The effect is seen clearly in the weak bureaucratic public sector, where public planning and coordination crawls to its destination after many reforms. Other effects of poor governance that may delay achieving the SDG’s include Insecurity, Banditry, Kidnapping, Insurgency, Food Crises, Corruption, Unemployment, Lack of sustainability and continuity plan in implementing projects, Lack of policy implementation, and Poverty. These listed challenges are directly affecting Sustainable Development Goal 16, 811, 16, and 17.



The novel pandemic has a short, medium, and long term impact on the humanitarian, social and economic facets of the society, which may affect or delay the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in various ways and at different levels. The most evident impact is on Goal 3 obviously, which seeks to guarantee “Good health and Well-being”. Health systems are strained by the impact of the pandemic in relation to the treatment and management of infected people. The government in different countries has channelled resources for other projects to curb the virus, treat infected people, and purchase vaccines. COVID-19 is also impacting the employment, economic and social situation of many families worldwide and their ability to provide basic needs.


The direct impact of the COVID-19 is on Goal 2 (the fight to eliminate hunger), Goal 8 (productive employment and decent work for all), Goal 1 (the fight against poverty), Goal 2 (the eradication of hunger, food security, and better nutrition), Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls),  as well as the vulnerabilities of certain population groups, and consequently delay the achievement of Goal 10, which seeks to reduce inequalities between and within countries.


Poor Usage of Available Data

Nigeria has different data gathering platforms ranging from National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) issuing National Identification Numbers (NIN), Banks, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) issuing Driver License, Directorate of Road Traffic Services issuing Vehicle papers, Telecommunication Service providers, to mention a few. Some organisations also have a large volume of data in their custody on different categories, such as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Some of this data has been successfully utilised in achieving sustainable interventions in different geopolitical zones over the years, especially by Non-Governmental Organisations such as UNICEF, World Health Organisations (WHO), WaterAid, and others.


If the volume of the data available is not put to good use, implementing projects in achieving SDGs by 2030 might be a mirage. Big data analysis can help gain actionable insights and make data-based decisions by digging into the data from every angle. Creating a data governance roadmap will help data analysis methods and techniques become successful on a more sustainable basis, and if these roadmaps are appropriately developed, they will be scaled over time to achieve the desired target.


Population Growth

Thomas Robert Malthus said, “left unchecked, a population will outgrow its resources”. The African continent has some of the highest averages for fertility rates and population growth in the world. Fertility rates are highest among the poorest African communities. The greatest number of births in Africa takes place in Nigeria. From 2015 to 2030, 136 million births will take place in Nigeria — 19% of all African babies and 6% of the global total. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for almost one-tenth of all births in the world. In absolute terms, Nigeria is projected to add from 2031 to 2050 an additional 224 million babies (21% of the births in Africa and 8% of all births in the world). All the Sustainable Development Goals will be affected if the population explosion is not checked. It will throw Nigeria into a vicious cycle that comes with the pressure of many people being placed on limited resources. Some other effect of population explosion includes; Generation of Waste, Threat to Biodiversity, Strain on Forests, Urbanization, Industrialisation, Land Degradation, Air, Water, and Pollution.



Developing countries have received different development programs to tackle some of their weighty challenges listed earlier. Foreign aids have supported with funds, but the problem is multi-nefarious, which seems not to be an issue of just funds. It is vital –like the adage African adage “a swimming cat does not make it catfish” –to realise that African solutions should be contextualised based on the region because the realities in the east may differ from those in the west despite being one continent. Notwithstanding some measurable impact by foreign aid, much is required to carry Africa along. Speaking to the Sustainable Development Goals motto, “Leave no one behind“, developing countries cannot afford to be left behind because it is a win-win for the world at large if Africa succeeds.


We must not think that we have lost the fight to achieve the SDGs. The time is now for all organisations, governments, and individuals to play an important role, to work together forcefully to identify the bottlenecks in the efforts (national plans and international assistance) for developing countries to align with the 2030 Agenda and make sure no one is left behind.


Written by:

Ambrose Adebayo

Assistant Consultant