Original Research

Fundamental policy challenges influencing sustainable development in Africa

Christelle Auriacombe, Gerrit van der Walt
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 9, No 1 | a381 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v9i1.381 | © 2021 Christelle Auriacombe, Gerrit van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 January 2020 | Published: 05 January 2021

About the author(s)

Christelle Auriacombe, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gerrit van der Walt, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: There is widespread recognition on the African continent that a coherent and integrated policy response is necessary to adequately deal with issues associated with sustainable development. Despite this general recognition, it is, however, also evident that much still needs to be done to realise a coherent policy response fostered by a transgovernance approach to sustainable development.

Aim: The aim of this article is to analyse the nature and scope of development policy influencing Africa’s policy responses to sustainable development challenges.

Setting: Challenges associated with sustainable development transcend national borders. This requires trans-border policy responses and transgovernance. Transgovernance goes beyond conventional governance approaches and moves towards a more integrated global and continental response to address sustainability issues. The same applies to Africa as a continent.

Methods: In the traditions of interpretivism, the methodology is based on a desktop analysis by means of a literature survey. The qualitative description of the findings focuses on the themes that emerge from the research and the manner in which it was conceptualised and contextualised in terms of unobtrusive research techniques.

Results: Results indicate that across Africa there have been varied policy responses to sustainable development challenges. It was established that despite successes on the continent, inclusive of the establishment of various sectoral policy frameworks and coordinating mechanisms, there is still great concern for the general lack of a coordinated response to environmental concerns. Change in policy-making approaches and practices as well as changes in attitudes towards the environment are essential.

Conclusion: Policy coherence on the continent is a prerequisite to promote sustainable development. Policy responses need to consider the finite nature of natural resources and the future implications of current government actions (and inactions). Policy-makers need to look forward, contemplating the interrelationship between human-driven development and the environment, and approach policy design in a fundamentally new way.


Africa; development; sustainable development; policy; policy coherence; policy response; transgovernance.


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