United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa)
9th Africities Summit: Official Opening of Political Segment
The main topic of the conversation was “Thriving the way for the future of Africa in a world of turmoil”
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The fourth day of the Africities summit started with the official opening of the political segment which was marked by a conversation between two former African heads of State namely, His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique and His Excellency Danny Faure former President of Seychelles. The main topic of the conversation was “Thriving the way for the future of Africa in a world of turmoil”. The young elected officials invited the former heads of State to reflect and advise them around the unbalanced share of public financial and human resources between the national level and the local level; on the centrality of cities and territories as places hit by the consequences of climate change and paradoxically their absence at the table when discussing climate action; on the proposal to devise a program for upgrading tou7nghe infrastructure and equipment of local governments, including intermediary cities, within the pan-African framework, as was the case with the NEPAD major infrastructure program, for intermediary cities to play their rightful role as engineering places for the African Continental Free Trade Area, a booster for African integration; on making cross-border decentralized cooperation a tool for African integration; and finally on arguments to put forward to give hope to young Africans that they have a future on this continent instead for them dying in the Mediterranean trying to find their future outside the continent.
In response, His Excellency Joaquim Chissano told the leaders of local governments that as much as it is OK to engage national governments for a better share of public resources between the national and the local levels of government, there is need also to find creative ways of mobilising locally the resources they need.
“It would be important for local governments to engage in dialogue between themselves and the central government and ensure that there’s a permanent space for dialogue through associations for example to discuss the issues they have” said His Excellency Joaquim Chissano, former President of Mozambique.
With regards to climate change, His Excellency Danny Faure urged United Cities and Local Governments of Africa to fight and ensure that local governments have a seat at the negotiating table during the upcoming COP 27 in Egypt. COP is the name given to the annual meeting of world leaders in a climate change capacity. COP27 will be the 27th such conference to take place in Sharm- Al-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022.
“It is important that we have at the table representatives of intermediary cities and local governments. We also need to press that “Loss and Damage” as a facility is created and approved so that nations having difficulties because of climate change can benefit from this new facility” said His Excellency Danny Faure, former president of Seychelles. (Watch video Interview of HE Danny Faure: https://bit.ly/3sXRK81)
Loss and damage are a general term used in the United Nations climate negotiations to refer to the consequences of climate extreme events hitting communities ill-prepared to face them. Loss and damage refer to the consideration that the Africa is responsible for less than 4% of greenhouse gas emissions but is one of the regions of the world most impacted by the consequences of global warming it did not participate in producing. Loss and damage also refer to the compensation that Africa should be receiving from the rest of the world for the role it is playing in carbon sinking, notably through the Forest of the Congo Basin and Africa’s wetlands. It is about maintaining dignified living standards for the population in forest area to ensure that they do not engage in deforestation to earn a living.
On the other hand, it should be noted that a conversation took place between two former heads of State and Young Leaders of local governments of Africa aged 35 or below.
After the dialogue between the former heads of State and young leaders, an UCLG Africa honorary membership award ceremony was organised, during which the two former heads of State gave their honorary membership attributes to the nominees in the 5 colleges of UCLG Africa honorary members, namely the college of former mayors and leaders of subnational and local governments, the college of the academia, the college of the private sector, and the college of UCLG partners, in exclusion of the college of former heads of State.
The following members received their honorary membership attributes from the hands of President Chissano and President Faure:
College of former Mayors and Leaders of subnational and local government Governments of Africa: Ms. Rose Christiane Ossouka-Raponda, former Mayor of Libreville, and Prime Minister of Gabon; Mrs Celestine Ketcha Courtès, former Mayor of Bagangte, Cameroon, and former President, REFELA, Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Cameroon; Mr. Jeannot Ahoussou Kouadio, President of the Senate, Côte d’Ivoire; Mr. Daby Diagne, former Mayor of Louga, Senegal, and former President last President of the United Towns Organization (UTO) ; Mr Hugues Ngouélondélé, former Mayor of Brazzaville, Congo, and former President of UCLG Africa; Mr Tarayia Ole Kores, former President, Association of Local Government Authorities of Kenya, ALGAK, and former President, UCLG Africa; Mr Khalifa Sall, former Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, and former President of UCLG Africa; Mr Mpho Moruakgomo, former President of the Botswana Association of Local Authorities, BALA, and former Vice President, UCLG Africa; Mr Thabo Manyoni, former Mayor of Magaung, South Africa, former President of the South African Local Government Association, SALGA, and former Vice President of UCLG Africa; Mr Eneas Comiche, Mayor of Maputo, Mozambique, former Vice President of UCLG Africa; Mr Ahmed Hamza, former Mayor of Nouakchott, Mauritania and former Vice President, UCLG Africa; Mr Omar Bahraoui, former Mayor of Rabat, Morocco, and former Vice President of UCLG Africa; and Mr Simon Compaoré, former Mayor of Ouagadougou, and former member of UCLG Africa´s Executive Committee.
College of Academia: Professor Akinlawon Mabogunje, former Dean of the Faculty of Geography, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
College of the Private Sector: Mr Seidnaly Aphadi, Fashion designer, Niger
Category of UCLG Africa Partners: Mr. John Dossavi, President of RAPEC, Togo, the association of African Professionals in the area of Culture, the man behind the celebration of the UNESCO World Day of African and Afro-descendent Culture on 24 January every year; and Mr William Cobbett, former Director, at the Cities Alliance Secretariat, and former Director General for the National Department of Housing in President Nelson Mandela’s Government of National Unity, South Africa.
MEETING OF MINISTERS
The Ministers’ meeting is one of the three parallel meetings of the political segment being held over the last two days of the Africities Summit. The Ministers’ meeting includes African ministers who are members of the African Union’s Specialized Technical Committee on Public Service, Local Government, Urban Development and Decentralization (STC 8); as well as ministers in charge of Finance and/or the Economy.
Drawing lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministers confirmed the resolve of African governments to minimize dependency from the world market for commodities and services indispensable for the day-to-day living conditions of the people such as food systems or health services; and strive and improve self-reliance through the promotion of local economies economic that connect closely intermediary cities with their rural hinterlands, which should be instrumental to building a more balanced spatial development of human settlements at national, regional and continental levels, in line with the UN´s New Urban Agenda.
The ministers confirmed that COVID-19 puts a huge burden on African public finances that makes it difficult for the national level to make adequate transfer of resources to the local governments as it should have. They suggested therefore that innovative forms of funding be sought for subnational and local governments, including improving local government owned-sourced revenues, but also the recourse to innovative instruments such as public-private-partnership or bonds issuing on the capital market. The proposal by UCLG Africa to set up a special purpose vehicle, the Africa Territorial Agency, ATA, is a welcome move to the right direction and should be supported.
The ministers also confirmed the rightness and urgency to pay more attention to intermediary cities in national urban policies. They acknowledged the need to bring the issue of the role of cities including intermediary cities in the structural transformation of Africa to the attention of the heads of State and Government of the African Union to form part of the agenda of one of their nearest conferences, with the support of the African Union Commission.
The ministers also bought in the proposal to make culture the fourth pillar of sustainable development in sync with the proposal of the 2021 African Union Year tagged the African Year for heritage, arts, and culture. They fully supported the proposal by UCLG Africa to celebrate the African Capitals of Culture biennially. They welcomed the celebration of the city of Rabat as the first African Capital of Culture for the years 2022-2023.
The ministers acknowledged the fundamental change introduced by the digitalization of society. They committed to support the digital transformation of the continent and committed to facilitate ICT investment and equipment as well as skilling local governments staff in digital governance. They welcomed the establishment of the network of smart intermediary cities headed by the City of Benguerir, Morocco.
The ministers also welcome the adoption of the Local Government Charter on Gender Equality and committed to the implementation of its provisions in the different African countries.
The ministers finally discussed and adopted the questions they wished to ask to Mayors on the hand, and to Development partners in the other hand, in the framework of the tripartite dialogue roundtable between ministers, mayors and development partners. They also agreed on the five ministers that would be on the delegation of ministers at the tripartite dialogue roundtable to be held on May 21, 2022, namely, the ministers from Tanzania, Rwanda, Niger, Mozambique, and Egypt.
“We have done enough exchanges, benchmarking, comparisons, contrasts, a feel of best experiences, and also what level each one of us is at. It is now really a question of putting into practice what we are preaching when we get back; and come the next convention, we should be able to report on the deliverables and what we have picked out of such a large convention and hopefully it should not be a talking shop” said Hon. Gary Nkombo, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Zambia.
MEETING OF MAYORS
The meeting of mayors and leaders of subnational and local governments of Africa was first called to reflect on the implementation of the decentralization policy within the African continent. The participants in the meeting recommended that the triennial Report on the institutional enabling environment created by the national governments in favor of city and subnational and local governments serve as the basis of a permanent dialogue between the central State and the local governments on the implementation of the decentralization policy. The celebration of the Decentralization Day on August 10 each year can serve as a moment for presenting the local governments´ perspective of the implementation of the decentralization policy in each African country.
The meeting of Mayors recognized that local governments has been at the forefront in fighting unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in unexpected expenditure, and the reduction of owned-sourced revenues of around 30% to 50 %. Hence the proposal to include subnational and local government among the beneficiaries of Post-COVID support packages.
The meeting of Mayors gave its full support to the setting up of the Africa Territorial Agency, the special purpose vehicle aimed at facilitating access of African cities and territories to the capital market. The meeting also praised the effort of UCLG Africa to facilitate access of African local government to climate finance; and fully supported the organization of a Forum of Mayors for Climate in the official program of COP 27 in Sharm-Al-Sheikh, Egypt.
The meeting of Mayors recognized that, from now on, the digital transformation of subnational and local governments is a must and has become the urgent duty of the day. They therefore committed to embark into the digitalization their governance and operations. They praised the efforts of UCLG Africa that has digitalized the operations of its Academy, ALGA, by putting in place an e-academy and welcome the partnership established with the 01Talent Company aiming at producing 500.000 young coding specialists in African cities and territories within the coming 10 years. The mayors as well welcomed the proposal to set up a e-trading capacity building program to allow young Africans to become traders on the principal stock exchange in the world while still residing back home in Africa. Mayors also recommended the involvement of all stakeholders of the territory in digital transformation through the development of living labs approaches.
The meeting of Mayors valued the decentralization cooperation as a means to associate subnational and local governments into the dynamism of African integration; to fight discrimination against migrant populations; to embed the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area into the social, cultural as well economic realities of the continent reflected in intermediary cities; and to participate in the early warning mechanism on conflicts put in place by the African Union at the level of the Regional Economic Communities. To that effect, the meeting of Mayors recommended that a mechanism be in place to encourage the participation of local governments in the regional economic dynamic. An example of such mechanism is given by the Council of Territorial Governments, CCT, established as a body the West African Economic and Monetary Union, WAEMU, a part of the Economic Community of West African Stated (ECOWAS). The meeting of Mayors recommended therefore to put in place a council of subnational and local governments in the different Regional Economic Communities, mirroring the High Council of African Local Authorities set up as a consultative body of the African Union.
The meeting of Mayors recommended that all regional economic communities define cross-borders decentralized cooperation programs for cities and territories to be able to transform the borders of African countries inherited from colonial times from “breaking points to stitching points”, following the wise word of His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of Mali and former President of the African Union Commission.
The meeting of Mayors urged all African countries to sign and ratify the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development. The meeting also called on all city and territorial governments of Africa to adopt the African Charter on Gender Equality proposed by the REFELA, the network of female Mayors and Local Elected Officials of Africa.
The meeting of Mayors praised the initiative of the Kingdom of Morocco to set up an African Fund for International Decentralized Cooperation that supports city-to-city partnerships in Africa; and called for the setting up of such decentralization cooperation funds in many other countries of Africa in order to build contribute, through robust decentralized cooperation programs, to the emergence of the “Africa of the Peoples above and beyond the Africa of post-colonial National States”, thus contributing to building African integration from its cities and territories.
The meeting of Mayors considered that intermediary cities are the support points for the emergence of strong local economies, a sine qua non for the bifurcation towards the road to a more economically resilient, ecologically sustainable, and socially just and inclusive development pathway. The meeting supported therefore the effort of cities and territories engaged in the rethinking of their development policies and strategies, taking into account the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of Agenda 2063 of the African Union.
The meeting of Mayors endorsed the proposal by the Youth Day to create youth empowerment councils bringing together youth organizations to take care of identifying opportunities for younger generations in terms of education, employment, and investment, and to advise the municipality on policies dedicated to youth in order to address the challenge of youth at odds with peaceful social relations and prey to delinquency and crime.
“We have discussed several things but one of the key things that we hope will be implemented after the tripartite discussions is the harmonization of structures across Africa. This is because some countries have a minister in charge of Decentralization working directly with local authorities and other countries do not have it. This is why there is a discrepancy in budgets because some countries have 2% of their national resources allocated to subnational and local governments budgets while others have 15%. This is a huge difference and harmonizing of infrastructure would be a win” said Mrs. Khady Niang SYLLA, Deputy Mayor of Dakar.
The meeting of Mayors then approved the five questions they would ask to ministers and development partners during the tripartite dialogue roundtable as well the delegates representing the Mayors and leaders of subnational governments, namely, Mayor Mrs. L´khiel, Mayor of Arbaoua, Morocco; Mrs. Kady Niang Deputy Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, Mrs. Maria Helena Langa, Mayor of Mandlakazi, Mozambique; Mr. Rama, Mayor of District 4, City of N’Djamena, Chad; and Mr. Kitour, Mayor of Eldoret, Kenya.
MEETING OF DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS
The Development Partners meeting approved the 5 questions to be submitted to the ministers and mayors and subnational governments leaders. They also debated and proposed the roadmap to be adopted at the end of the Summit. This roadmap is supposed to make sure the support of development partners contributes to strengthening the place and role of intermediary cities in the implementation of the United Nations´ 2030 Agenda and of the African Union´s Agenda 2063.
“One of the things we ask the mayors as development partners is what do you want and what do you need? We do ask these questions because local authorities are the best engineers of development. We hope that some of the donors including the major players will start to say: we want to see how to finance local authorities directly”, said Laurent Bossard, Director of the Sahel and West Africa Club – OECD.
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United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa)