South Africa does not believe it is fair to conclude that most African countries may not meet their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 United Nations deadline.
"We are on track as far as we are concerned so the criticism is unfounded," Water and Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, told reporters in Pretoria on Monday.
She was providing feedback on the outcomes of the recent UN Summit on Sustainable Development held in Rio, Brazil.
Critics have argued that the summit, dubbed Rio +20, steered away from the challenges facing many African countries, which may stand in the way of achieving their MDGs.
But Molewa said a lot of issues needed to be considered when measuring Africa's growth and the attainment of its development goals.
"We believe that we still need to protect the MDGs but at the same time, let's not forget to address the pillars of poverty in many of our countries; so we believe considering the steps we are taking, we are still on track," she said.
In signing the MDGs, the UN member states agreed to a set of goals to be achieved by 2015 and these included eradicating poverty and promoting universal access to education and health care.
According to the World Bank, although most African countries were off-track on most of the MDGs, the continent had arguably been making the greatest progress towards the goals. The poverty rate has been declining at about one percentage point a year, with some evidence that child mortality in Africa, after stagnating for some time, was beginning to fall sharply.
Molewa said the Rio conference had also agreed on the formation of a high level political forum that aimed at strengthening sustainable development at global level.