GCAP Africa and representatives from African civil society organizations (CSOs) gathered online on 18 April 2024, during the 10th African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) to address pressing issues related to debt and social protection in Africa.

The virtual event, co-organised by African CSOs and GCAP, brought together stakeholders from various African nations to discuss the continent’s progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the state of social protection amidst ongoing challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Download the outcome document here.

Key Concerns:

Despite acknowledging the collective efforts of African nations towards improving living standards and advancing the SDGs, participants expressed deep concern over the region’s high levels of debt and inadequate social protection coverage. With an estimated 1.2 billion Africans lacking any form of social protection, particularly in rural areas, vulnerable populations are increasingly exposed to economic, health, and climatic shocks, exacerbating existing inequalities.

Impact of COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges, pushing millions of people below the poverty line and eroding previous gains in social protection coverage. Only two African countries, Niger and Sao Tome & Principe, have ratified the 2022 AU Protocol on the Rights of Citizens to Social Protection and Social Security, highlighting the urgent need for broader adoption and implementation of social protection policies.

Call to Action:

In response to these pressing issues, participants issued a joint call to action addressed to African governments, the African Union, the United Nations, and development partners. Key recommendations include:

  • Reforming the global financial architecture to address unsustainable public debt levels.
  • Developing a debt work-out mechanism under the auspices of the UN.
  • Addressing root causes of the debt crisis embedded in global financial structures.
  • Implementing structural solutions to debt challenges.
  • Reexamining credit terms and renegotiating existing loans based on fairer mechanisms.
  • Expediting the establishment of regional financial institutions to support sustainable development.
  • Ratifying the 2022 AU Protocol on Social Protection and Social Security.
  • Developing sustainable revenue streams to finance universal social protection schemes.
  • Designing adaptive social protection frameworks to respond effectively to crises.
  • Prioritizing citizen engagement and participation in social protection programs.


The outcome document of the side event serves as a clarion call for concerted action to address Africa’s debt crisis and strengthen social protection mechanisms. As the continent navigates complex challenges, the collective efforts of governments, civil society, and international partners are crucial to realizing the vision of sustainable development for all Africans.