Celebration of World Cities Day

Watch the 8 sessions  diffussed on live around the theme: “Promoting Local Government and Citizen Engagement for the City We Need in Africa, in Time of Covid-19 and Beyond”
-Official opening ( +)
-Virtual Campus of Urban Thinkers-Session 1 on: Mapping the Main Actors involved in the dynamics of the Sustainable Urbanization (+)
-Virtual Campus of Urban Thinkers-Session 2 on: ” Local Government and Citizen Engagement: Learning from the Covid-19 Pandemic.” (+)
-Urban Lab 2 : Transforming Local Leadership to Build Resilient African Cities. (+).
-Urban Lab 3 : Citizen engagement: challenges, concepts, approche ( +)
-Virtual Campus of Urban Thinkers: The Action Day on Culture and Heritage (+)
-Part 2 of Virtual Campus of Urban Thinkers: The Action Day on Culture and Heritage (+)
-Part 3 of Virtual Campus of Urban Thinkers: The Action Day on Culture and Heritage(+)

Carbon pricing in Africa: opportunities for action at the territorial level

On Tuesday October 27, 2020, UCLG Africa, in partnership with CPLC (Coalition for leadership on carbon pricing) and CoM SSA (Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa) held a webinar with the theme, “Carbon pricing in Africa: opportunities for action at the territorial level.” The meeting contextualized carbon pricing and its goals in relation to sub-national actors in Africa.

The opening speech was delivered by His Excellency Prof. Lee WHITE, Minister of Forests, Sea and Environment of the Republic of Gabon. Welcoming speeches were delivered by Mrs. Wendy Hughes, Manager for Carbon and Market Innovation at the World Bank and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.

Ms. Wendy Hughes explained how the World Bank was engaged in working with several partners in Africa to explore carbon pricing opportunities. Through the Coalition for the Leadership on Carbon Pricing (CPLC), actions were carried out with various partners: national governments, the private sector, civil society and local authorities. “This webinar is part of this collaborative spirit of sharing experiences. I hope that the exchange of views will enable us to make important contributions on climate change and to translate this into real action at the local level.

Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi indicated that it was now essential to set a price on carbon. “Thee setting up of Carbon Pricing System and the development of carbon markets are at the heart of the discussions currently being carried out within the framework of the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It should be recalled that under the Kyoto Protocol, a mechanism for the trading of pollution rights had been proposed to organize supply and demand in this field in order to arrive at an efficient price, ensuring the best allocation of resources that should be compatible with the imperative of reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a planetary scale. The question is how to go about it. The Kyoto Protocol proposed to rely on the market mechanisms through the Clean Development Mechanism to freely organize the confrontation of supply and demand for greenhouse gas emission quotas. This is how the carbon market was developed. We subsequently realized that this mechanism was not sufficient to have a carbon price that truly reflects the requirement to branch off towards a low carbon economy. This has led to the consideration of other mechanisms for setting an explicit or implicit carbon price, allowing clear signals to be sent on the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions; or on the cost that greenhouse gas emissions impose on society, the general goal being to organize the transition to a low carbon energy system.

Among these mechanisms one can mention:

  • the carbon tax, which makes it possible to have polluters pay directly for the cost of emissions;
  • the compensation price or subsidies for low carbon investments (renewable energies, energy efficiency), which reward avoided emissions at the carbon market price;
  • the laws and regulations that allow for an implicit carbon price to be set in areas where the price is not explicit, such as agriculture, transport or waste. Laws and regulations can also speed up processes of technological breakthroughs that can accelerate the energy transition.

It is known that by 2050 Africa will have joined the rest of the world in having people living mainly in cities and will have 1.2 billion city dwellers. We also know that cities are the source of more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and that their technological choices in the areas of construction, mobility and transport, as well as waste, among others, will be determinants for a branching off towards a low carbon development model.

As you probably already know with the support of the European Union, nearly 200 cities in sub-Saharan Africa have committed to the production of Climate-Energy plans within the framework of the Covenant of Mayors for the Climate. It therefore, seems essential to us that the 100 cities of more than 1 million inhabitants that Africa will have in the next 5 years, commit now to setting a carbon price and setting up carbon markets structured around sustainable development objectives, to send a clear signal of their determination to initiate the energy and ecological transition now.

This is why United Cities and Local Governments of Africa wished to organize this webinar in collaboration with the Coalition for Carbon Pricing Leadership (CPLC), hosted by the World Bank and the Covenant of Mayors for the Climate and Energy in sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), supported by the European Commission.

The World Bank launched the Partnership for Market Readiness (PMR) initiative in 2011 to set a price on carbon. This initiative is implemented in October 2020 in 46 national states and 35 subnational jurisdictions.

30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are committed to the use of carbon pricing or carbon markets in their Nationally Determined Contributions for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. But this initiative has so far not involved local authorities.

This webinar offers the opportunity to share the international experience in Carbon Pricing and the development of carbon market, and aims at making the most of insights and guidance of the best decision-makers, thinkers and professionals, to bring to national and territorial authorities and practitioners of Africa a better understanding of the carbon pricing mechanisms and the usefulness of using them to stimulate the branching off towards a more energy efficient, low carbon, and more resilient territorial development.”

H.E Prof. Lee White revealed that in 2012, his country, Gabon, “realized that we could not count on a sufficient carbon price. We left the UN REDD process to reflect on how to create a sustainable economy around the Gabonese forest. We have banned logging of unprocessed logs in Gabon. In 10 years, we have multiplied our forestry economy by four. Why is a ton of carbon in Europe not the same price as in Gabon? In Gabon we have established a program to develop what is called the smart code. Unfortunately in Gabon, the construction of houses consumes a lot of carbon. The challenge is to set up infrastructures that are both resilient to climate change and low in CO2 emissions. To achieve this, it is necessary to arrive at a real exchange between developed countries and developing countries. This subject is very important. I wish for ourselves, fruitful deliberations.

Ms. Ishanlosen Odiaua, Senior Social Development Specialist at the World Bank, spoke to the audience about the importance of involving local authorities in climate action. “Local authorities can help by working with local people to take ownership of these notions of climate action. Local authorities are closer to populations and these populations are the first victims of pollution, and yet they don’t have a say at the international level. Local and regional elected representatives must represent them by carrying their voice. We must find intercession for the implementation of the different actions in order to avoid top-down approaches. By involving local authorities, we ensure that the opinions of citizens are taken- into-account.

Mr. Andrei Marcu, Founder and Executive Director of ERCST (European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition), is also convinced that cities and local authorities can help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). “60% of greenhouse gases are in cities. In Africa, the carbon market represents an essential element as a source of financing. In making this transition to a carbon neutral world, it is important to have robust funding for Africa and for the rest of the world. The stakes are huge in Africa, but progress is not satisfactory. In 2019 only 3% of NDCS projects were in Africa and of these projects only 66 projects involved local authorities. We have to start talking about the price of carbon at the international level, but we must also talk about the price of carbon at the national level. Carbon markets can be introduced in a hybrid way in Africa. In Africa, the carbon market process has been slow to start and in some cases has collapsed. You need expertise in this area and an understanding of regulatory frameworks. National governments must create a framework for the participation of cities. Local authorities must give their approval. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement is the only part that is not complete. Articles 6.2 and 6.4 are more decentralized approaches. The reason we often don’t have access to the market is that the market comes from projects in developing countries. You have to have access to these markets to have access to these opportunities. Africa came late to this market and was disappointed because as soon as it arrived the market was collapsing.”

Ms. Mandy Rambharos, Head of the Just Energy Transition office at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd (Johannesburg, South Africa), specified how the problems in Africa are exacerbated by climate change. “There are social economic challenges and adaptation challenges. The important aspect that needs to be looked at is the role of carbon pricing in attracting finance and financing to Africa. We must meet the requirements for the social and economic development of our countries. We have switched to technologies that emit less carbon, which is good. Carbon pricing plays an important role. We must consider carbon pricing in a more realistic way by focusing on actions and enabling environments.




Panel 1

The first panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Rokhaya Sy Gaye, President of the Tournesol Association, member of the Women Major Group and Country Monitor of the African Gender Group of the Green Climate Fund (City of Dakar). The presenter focused on: “How can African cities contribute to ensuring a successful transition from the Clean Development Mechanism (under the Kyoto Protocol) to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement in order to meet national commitments?”

Ms. Rachel Botti-Douayoua, Representative of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Côte d’Ivoire, indicated that in her country, “all CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) projects have been led by individuals from the private sector, whereas local governments were not involved. Local governments are not involved upstream; generally it is representatives of central governments who are at the negotiating table. The transfer of information between the central government and local governments is often not effective. For communities to be more involved in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a better understanding of climate issues on the national and local economies is needed. This will allow for the development of local climate strategies. We often have national strategies that are not translated at the local level. One of the shortcomings of the first NDCs was the top-down approach used to develop the climate change strategy. It is often difficult to translate the strategic pillars developed at the national level into action on the ground. One of the recommendations is to favor the bottom-up approach.

For Mr. Yassine Daoudi, Mayor of the city of Guisser (Morocco), Vice-President of AMPCC (Moroccan Association of Presidents of Communal Councils), the fight against climate change requires special funding. “Moroccan local governments are involved in the fight against climate change and are in the search for funding. The local carbon market is an interesting option. Our cities are getting bigger and there is more pollution. If we are thinking of integrating the carbon market, we can switch to a carbon tax which offers possibilities to improve one’s competitiveness where there is trading of CO2 quotas. In 2015, Morocco launched the initiative for the creation of the carbon market in the REDD program with the cement and phosphate sector. At that time, the local authorities were not involved. One cannot speak of a local carbon market without the national carbon market. It is necessary to have a regulator of this carbon market, in particular the central government. It is the same concern with the territorialization of NDCs: it is necessary to territorialize the carbon market.

Mr. Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), expressed that one of the challenges facing the climate agenda was that it was a danger that seemed very distant to many people. “Nonetheless, everyone recognizes the climate emergency. In 2008, European cities signed up to the Covenant of Mayors. The Covenant of Mayors is a voluntary commitment: there are 10,000 member local authorities. In sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to funding from the European Union, we have developed this convention, which already has several hundred, member cities. ICLEI is the technical arm of the CoM SSA, and UCLG Africa is the political arm to carry out advocacy with African institutions, particularly the African Union, in order to find support and financial instruments. The carbon market is important but we are not there yet. We have to find sources of funding to support cities that engage in actions to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is a challenge and an opportunity to rethink the development of our territories.

Mr. Yacoubou Bio Sawé, Director of the Unit for Environmental Management and Sustainable Development at the West African Development Bank (BOAD), discussed the need for effective collaboration between central governments and local authorities. “BOAD has set up a carbon market which collapsed with the 2018 crisis. We are now committed to the United Nations financial mechanisms, in particular the adaptation fund, the Green Climate Fund that granted to us accreditations which allow us today to work on the financing of projects and to give content to the NDC programs of the national governments. Nonetheless, the silos between national governments and local authorities make it difficult to get results. We must think local and act local. Decentralization as experienced today is not likely to help matters. Decentralization must be total, otherwise there will be no results. We must therefore give leadership to the umbrella organization of local and subnational governments on the continent, which is UCLG Africa. The AfDB has signed a partnership with UCLG Africa to reflect on the possibilities of dealing with the problems. If the central government and local authorities remain in a climate of mistrust, there will be a problem, because national resources must be used as a lever to mobilize external funds. It is then necessary to build the capacities of local governments. Local governments must be involved as a major player in the various Conferences of Parties (COPs).

Panel 2

The second panel moderated by Ms. Angela Naneu Churie Kallhauge, Director of the Coalition for Leadership on Carbon Pricing (CPLC) focused on the question, “What are the most effective ways to involve subnational authorities in the implementation strategy of a national and regional framework on the carbon market, and how consequently, to structure the operational framework of cities and territories in the carbon market?”


Ms. Hakima El Haité, President of the Liberal International, Former Minister of the Environment of Morocco, spoke out for real decentralization. “The territories produce more than 60% of CO2 emissions and make 90% of the decisions that have an impact on climate change on a daily basis. Local governments have an important role to play concerning the climate issue. I see 4 main obstacles to their involvement. From the institutional and governance standpoint, local governments are not partners in the implementation of public policies. The second obstacle is the top-down approach: it does not involve local governments. The third obstacle is capacity building which is a central aspect, and the fourth obstacle is access to climate finance. Without real and effective decentralization, the implementation of the Paris Agreement will not succeed.

Mr. Anthony Nyong, Director of Climate Change and Green Growth at the AfDB, said, “the carbon tax is there to deter emissions. We must have a space that allows us to grow. Any policy to be implemented in the future must adapt to the sustainable development model. We have to make sure that the money we earn must be supported and directed towards sustainable development.” On questions regarding the price for carbon, measures to improve carbon pricing and incentives, including the role of AfDB, Mr. Nyong stated, “For the moment, 4 countries in West Africa have been chosen to set up pilot projects. We are going to develop an internal carbon price or a carbon credit trading system.

For Mr. Andy Deacom, Director of Strategy and Operations (GCoM), carbon markets can potentially be a vehicle for green growth in Africa. “It is necessary to find a role for the private sector. We must move away from the bottom-up dynamic as UCLG Africa and the CoM SSA do. I think there is untapped potential in the carbon market.”

Mr. Stéphane Pouffary, President of Energies 2050, indicated that in order to shake things up and bring out the potential represented by local actions, one must resort to structured dialogues. “These dialogues can be used to enable a dialogue between the central government and local authorities. In Africa there is some enthusiasm for the process, but there are obstacles in terms of methodology. There are many cities that are not all big cities: local reporting will need to be adapted to the size of cities. Complicity between the national government and local authorities must be anticipated.

In his concluding address, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, stressed the fact that, “The carbon price is a compass that is indicative of the real will of societies to commit to the transition to low carbon development. This observation emerged from our discussions. It has also become clear that there is a problem of the social and environmental utility of the carbon price and this is the heart of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. As a result of our deliberations, we should continue to reflect on how we shall go to Glasgow (COP26) with tangible elements making it possible to understand that the carbon price and the carbon market are essential complements to the achievement of the Paris Agreement. The second thing that has been said is that we will not be able to succeed if we do not go to the local level and we will not be able to succeed if we continue to do the NDCs from top to bottom. This is why UCLG Africa has proposed that the revision of the NDCs be taken advantage of, to start a process by local authorities with Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs) which would enrich and harmonize the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In this way there is a relationship between the local level and the national level. Obviously, there are procedures and these procedures first require the international community to take the time for national governments (especially in Africa) to adjust to this process. We are among those who say that there is a need for a climate focal point at the level of national associations of local authorities, as is the case at the national level within different ministries. We would thus have a person who is the interface for building the capacity of local governments to come to the table. If they are not around the table, it means that nothing is being discussed. 60% of greenhouse gases are produced in cities. This junction must be made between the national level and the local level. All the countries have national associations which represent these local authorities. At the continental level we have UCLG Africa and at the global level there is UCLG. Finally, it is clear that there is extraordinary scientific work that needs to be produced. Engaging in the construction of carbon markets requires that there be measures, reporting, and systems that allow the recommendations of the last Conference of the Parties (COP) to be applied.”

Watch The video of the Webinar 



The Social and Solidarity Economy at the heart of the REFELA agenda: a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa

On 23 October 2020, the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) facilitated a session on, “The Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) at the heart of the REFELA’s Agenda: a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa,” as part of the framework for the virtual Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) held from October 19 to October 23, 2020.

Fifty participants took part in the session including, Mrs. Annie Chrystel Limbourg Iwenga, Deputy Mayor of Libreville, Gabon, member of the REFELA Caucus for Central Africa; Ms. Macoura Dao representing the President of REFELA; Ms. Rahmatouca Sow, Advisor for Political Affairs and International Relations at UCLG Africa; Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General for UCLG Africa; and Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF).

The deputy mayor of Libreville, Mrs. Annie Chrystel Limbourg Iwenga, underlined the fact that in Africa, social entrepreneurship is a rapidly emerging phenomenon that responds to unmet social needs and the limitations of traditional public policies in the social and employment field. “Let us recall that REFELA has placed at the heart of its agenda, not only the launch but also the implementation and the follow-up of, ‘The Campaign of African cities favorable to the economic empowerment of women. Indeed, for REFELA, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), constitutes a lever for the empowerment of women in Africa. Women mayors and local elected officials on the continent are convinced that this sector is a significant part of getting women out of the informal sector and out of precariousness by giving them a local economic positioning that matches their potential,”

This point of view is shared by Ms. Rahmatouca Sow. REFELA supports more than ever, the achievement of SDGs 4 & 5 and urges all national, sub-national and local governments, as well as all stakeholders, to support the achievement of these goals. This forum is taking place in the context of a global pandemic which has shown how fragile, non-egalitarian and non-inclusive our economies are. This economic and social crisis particularly affects women. We will not overcome the crisis by relaunching growth, but by changing the economic paradigm, by daring to resort to a plurality of alternative and endogenous models. It seems relevant to see how the social and solidarity economy can position itself in relation to these issues and provide solutions and alternatives to the dominant and traditional models. Investing in women’s entrepreneurship in Africa makes a lot of sense. 26% of women of working age in Africa embark on business creation, but only 4% of women entrepreneurs access a bank loan. It is imperative that we support these women on the path to success because they are key players in sustainable economic development in Africa. Let us commit to forming new alliances between generations, urban, rural and metropolitan territories areas.

Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), thanked UCLG Africa for taking part in this virtual global forum through REFELA, under the theme of great challenges, more solidarity, the power of the community and the social and solidarity economy as a transformational tool. “This REFELA session is an initiative that I would like to congratulate as an implementation of the REFELA commitment since the Africities summit in November 2018. I am convinced that SSE will be an effective lever to guarantee the economic empowerment of women in Africa. Africa is now at a crossroads. African countries generate more resources than they can invest in infrastructure and human development. With significant population growth, how can we ensure a fair distribution of prosperity for all, especially in the current context of crisis linked to COVID which worsens poverty and inequalities? Elected officials and political decision-makers are looking for alternative strategies. For us, the key to these alternative strategies lies in the social and solidarity economy anchored at the local and territorial level, which has proved to be a resilient and very effective strategy to respond to all economic and social crises such as the 2008 crisis and the current covid-19 pandemic. Africa’s development strategy must come through the empowerment of African women to meet these major challenges. Women mayors must take a leading role.”

Participants were shown a short video from the Mayor Macoura Dao Coulibaly, President of REFELA, which presented experiences and actions in the social and solidarity economy for support of women’s associations in her commune Foumbolo, Côte d’Ivoire. Following this living testimony, Dr. Malika Ghefrane Giorgi, Special Advisor to REFELA, clarified that it is a question of trusting women and their economic potential and their capacities, in terms of activities recognized in Africa, not to confine them to small projects and small income-generating activities (IGA), which remain rather limited in terms of substance and scope, to ensure their effective empowerment and the development of their leadership in the economy of their cities and municipalities. This is one of the goals of the Campaign of African Cities for the Economic Empowerment of Women, documented and referenced through the Africa-wide Situation Analysis Report, published here. A call is therefore made to African cities to join this campaign in order to create a mobilizing movement in favor of the economic empowerment of African women. (See membership form here).

The sub-theme, “ Removing the obstacles to the development of female entrepreneurship in the field of SSE in Africa ,” was developed by Mr. Cheick Gueye , Mayor of the commune of Dieuppeul-Derklé and First Deputy to the Mayor of Dakar, Senegal. The obstacles that hamper female entrepreneurship include socio-economic constraints, the low level of education, the difficult access to production factors (land, equipment) and the obstacles posed by banks with high interest rates which reduce access to loans. As a solution, the local elected official proposed the establishment of a national fund to finance female entrepreneurship at the state level. For local authorities, the First Deputy Mayor of Dakar, proposed the establishment of a financing entity for women, such as the municipal development and solidarity fund (FODEM) for the city of Dakar, whose mission includes the financing of projects for women and young people through the support fund for decentralized financial structures.

Mr. Sergio Castañar, Coordinator of the Federation of Andalusian Municipalities-FAMSI-Spain, gave a presentation on North-South cooperation and the promotion of female entrepreneurship: the case of the REFELA / UCLG Africa and FAMSI- partnership (Spain), for the empowerment of women at the local level. In collaboration between Andalusian municipalities and those of Morocco, an approach of “field schools for women” has been initiated. The project consisted of training women for professions generally reserved for men such as masonry and gardening. The project has been implemented in the cities of Chefchaouen and Tétouan (North of Morocco).

Mr. Gautier Brygo, Director of the Territorial Coaching Program of UCLG Africa, delivered a presentation that looked at parallels between coaching and SSE. “Territorial coaching helps support national programs with SSE. Territorial coaching improves the strengthening of social cohesion and reinvents synergies with local governments. Coaching is a tool that can facilitate the implementation of SS.

The main recommendation from contributions were:

  • A request for the creation of a social and solidarity economy bank. Such a creation would make it possible to meet the needs of SSE stakeholders.

Ms. Laurence Kawark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) underlined that this was a good avenue for reflection, indicating that, “In Uganda, a bank of this type exists and in Quebec, there are several banks that primarily support ESS. UCLG Africa can reflect on the way in which the Local Governments could support the implementation of this project in each country.

In response, Ms. Rahmatouca Sow was of the opinion that, “REFELA should boost the local level definitions of the co-creation of public policies in connection with this theme of the economic empowerment of women and the social economy. The legal framework must be defined to allow for a favorable framework with the last point being supervision, in particular through solidarity-based finance.




Online Capacity Building Workshop on Planning for Urban Risks and Making Cities Resilient

As part of the celebrations for the United Nation’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), through its African Local Government Academy (ALGA), organized an online capacity building workshop on planning, urban risks and resilient cities, from 19-21 October, 2020. This was in partnership with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and UCLG, through its UCLG Learning Department.

This Capacity Building workshop, held on the UNDRR Zoom platform, brought together 516 participants from 43 Countries, who are now members of the platform’s global community, for the exchange of information and sharing best practices on disaster risk reduction. 157 participants followed the online presentations over the two days and also actively participated in the preliminary dashboard development exercise for their respective cities.


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Celebration of World Metropolitan Day 2020: key messages from African metropolises

Five key messages highlighting the interface role of metropolises in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic were highlighted by African local governments during the celebration of World Metropolitan Day 2020.


As part of World Metropolitan Day, celebrated annually on October 7, UCLG Africa held a webinar on 06 October, themed: “Covid-19 and Metropolitan Management: lessons learned from the health crisis world” in partnership with Metropolis.

Approximately one hundred participants took part, which served as a platform to collect the contribution of African metropolises around the general theme of the celebration: “Metropolises facing the pandemic.

The opening ceremony, moderated by Ms. Rahmatouca Sow, Advisor for Political and International Affairs of UCLG Africa, was marked by speeches from: Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa; Dr. Mohamed Boudra, President of UCLG, President of AMPCC and Mayor of Al Hoceima (Morocco); Mr. Octavi de La Varga Mas, Secretary General of Metropolis; and Mr. Vincent Ncho Kouach, Vice-Governor of Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Vice-President of Metropolis.

In his opening remarks, the Secretary General of UCLG Africa underlined the importance for African metropolises to celebrate the day during this period of the pandemic. “This World Metropolitan Day is important for us. Africa is also going through a metropolitan transformation. There are roughly 18 cities hosting more than one million inhabitants on our continent today. Our metropolises are part of the global network of metropolitan regions and cities responsible for managing the flow of the globalized economy. Due to their exposure to globalization, Africa’s metropolises have been both the entry points and the places of spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country. The global nature of this pandemic shows that there is no individual response to face this pandemic and the response will therefore have to be a collective one. Metropolises are the articulation point between the country’s internal urban network and the international urban system (both continental and global). The people responsible for metropolitan management have a special role to play in the current management of COVID because of this role of interface and articulation of internal dynamics with external dynamics. At the end of this webinar, we should have a pretty good idea of ​​what the new post-Covid19 normal will be. What are the pitfalls to be avoided? What innovations have appeared and on which can we build new approaches in the management of metropolitan areas?

Mr. Mohamed Boudra, President of UCLG, President of AMPCC, and Mayor of the city of Al Hoceima, Morocco, explained that the post-Covid19 world remains to be defined and that local authorities can play a role in its design. “The response to COVID requires a global agreement, which makes our communities more resilient to future epidemics. In the age of urbanization, we must rethink the relationship between large cities and other territories. We need real transformation. This transformation leads us to rethink metropolitan governance, which can be a way of strengthening democracy. This transformation calls for a different kind of multilateral system. The international system will have to transform into an inter-urban system supported by cities and territories of all sizes.” He also stressed the need for more access to new technologies. “Enabling people to work in reliable environments is essential. We need adequate means to provide basic services. To do this, our local governments must be present in all governance mechanisms for the result to be effective on the ground. Local and subnational governments must be the guardians of international solidarity. More than ever, international cooperation is proving to be crucial in the management of the current pandemic and it will be even more so in the future.

For Mr. Octavi de La Varga Mas, Secretary General of Metropolis, the celebration of the Metropolis Day aims to, “continue the international debate on decentralization. The goal is to open spaces for dialogue between all metropolitan actors. I am happy that UCLG Africa has joined the celebration of this day, as has UN-Habitat. The context of COVID confronts us with the contradictions of the urban world. The President of the World Bank said that 110 to 150 million people will join the ranks of the poor by 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. COVID has highlighted the importance of the informal economy, the issue of access to basic services, of decent housing, and of the public space. The issue of mobility and of the digital divide is also highlighted in the management of COVID. It is important not to look only at the development of cities with a Northern perspective, because we often forget the realities of Southern countries. Metropolitan governance is crucial and there are a whole variety of models, but there are five crucial factors to consider: 1. Leadership through strong commitment from political leaders; 2. Inclusion: we must make the voice of citizens heard in decision-making; 3. Cooperation with the active engagement of all spheres of governance; 4. Institutional frameworks for cooperation; and 5. Resources: we need adequate funding and investment. In particular, we launched a call to rethink metropolitan spaces. This appeal is made to everyone; it is a call for international cooperation.“.

Mr. Vincent Ncho Kouach, Vice-Governor of Abidjan, Vice-President of Metropolis, also mentioned international solidarity. “We are glad to participate in this meeting of sharing and solidarity in the face of this pandemic. This meeting will allow us to discuss the challenges metropolitan areas are facing in the face of the pandemic and to see how to prepare for the post-COVID period. Most African metropolises have very vulnerable populations. We need to develop solidarity actions, and mainly awareness-raising, through communication. In Abidjan, this crisis was slowed down thanks to the intense communication carried out by the local authorities. International solidarity is essential at this time”.


Peer learning

The second part of the meeting was devoted to training and information sharing for representatives from the regional metropolises, as well as a metropolis from Europe and from South America. This session was moderated by Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of the African Local Government Academy (ALGA) of UCLG Africa.

North Africa

The cities of Tunis and Rabat shared their experiences of managing the pandemic. Ms. Souad Ben Abderrahim, Mayor of Tunis, and her team have introduced local policy based on 3 main measures: 1. Sensitization of local elected officials to their responsibility to impact the local population; 2. Strengthening of municipal services, particularly environmental services, and establishment of a large hygiene system through the creation of a Covid-19 care center, and; 3. The digitization of services as quarantine measures have led many services to promote remote work. “This situation has contributed to strengthening the partnership with civil society and with international partners (via donations and funding). The crisis has pushed the municipality to develop digitization and remote municipal services, as well as e-medicine and e-education,” Ms. Souad Ben Abderrahim.

Digitization has also been important for the city of Rabat in addition to the provision of food and housing for vulnerable people, including street children and migrants. The Mayor of the City of Rabat, Mr. Mohamed Sadiki, praised the synergy of action at the national and local levels. “This pandemic has pushed us to accelerate digitization at city level. As far as authorizations are concerned, everything was dematerialized and we organized a virtual digital festival with online shows. Among the lessons learnt, we saw the importance of setting up crisis management units, well beforehand, the need to strengthen social cohesion and the need for the empowerment of local governments and their resilience.

East Africa

In the Seychelles, the city of Victoria has not experienced any cases of community contamination. In response to the pandemic, preventive sanitary measures for both public and private spaces, has been introduced as well as measures for compliance, as seen across the world. Like his counterparts on the continent, Mayor David André has seen his municipality affected economically. “We are severely affected because our economy is based on tourism. The government is providing wages until December 2020. For the post-COVID period, we are working to diversify our economy through fishing and agriculture. We are implementing preventive measures to enable us to face future crises. We invest in programs and projects that will improve the lives of citizens. We rely a lot on international solidarity.”

In Madagascar, the capital city Antanarivo has launched a municipal hygiene code. Mr. Michkael Reilly Solofoniaina, standing in for the Mayor of the city, explained that the main difficulty was managing the population, as Antananarivo is a very big city. “The rainy season is approaching and we will launch the drainage channel cleaning project to prevent further spread of the virus. A Post-Covid financing plan has been validated for 11 million dollars. Special emphasis will have to be placed on digitizing and strengthening scientific research.



Central Africa

In Bangui, in the Central African Republic, six months after the arrival of the COVID pandemic, the municipality of the capital has been on the front line in the fight against the virus. The team, led by Mayor Emile Gros Raymond Nakombo, created a civil protection unit made up of 5,000 young people from each district to help parents and strengthen solidarity between the inhabitants. The municipal council has also created the municipal anti-COVID unit. The mayor noted the following pitfalls to be avoided in the fight against the pandemic: “One should avoid trivializing the disease, which risks relaunching the spread of the virus, anarchic constructions, social discrimination and exclusion, and one should avoid the loss of jobs. Within the political class, one should prevent politics from gaining the upper hand.

In Brazzaville, Congo, the municipality carried out awareness-raising activities in the neighborhoods by involving the neighborhood leaders to put the message across to the population. Mr. Guy Marie SOKANA, 1st Deputy Mayor of Brazzaville, noted the effectiveness of the actions of municipal teams in terms of regularizing market activities.

In Douala, Cameroon, locally elected officials from the business capital have joined forces and implemented the “Douala Stop Coronavirus” concept. The onset of the disease coincided with the installation of the mayors following the local elections of February 2020. Dr. Solle, 1st Deputy Mayor of Douala, indicated that a response committee bringing together the 6 district municipalities of Douala was put in place. “Local awareness-raising activities were carried out with a thousand young people who went door to door. Traditional structures were also involved. The current challenge is to ensure a safe school year. Hand washing devices have been installed in schools. At the city level, we have created an Environmental Affairs and Living Environment Department, which continue to improve the living conditions of the population, and an Economic Affairs Department, which deals with the attractiveness and competitiveness of the city.”

West Africa

Bamako, the Malian capital city, experienced a complexity of management issues of the pandemic during the 6 months of the socio-political crisis that Mali went through. The mayor of the District of Bamako, Mr. Adama Sangaré, revealed that the low rate of positive cases was due to the fact that very few people are tested. For the mayor, there should be more emphasis on awareness-raising, as some members of the population still do not believe in the existence of the disease. “We would have liked to have had more collaboration with the central government to raise awareness. Community centers do not have reagents to be used in the administration of the COVID test. For Greater Bamako, awareness campaigns have been initiated.

In Benin, the municipality of the capital city, Porto Novo, has benefited from funds made available by the government to carry out preventative actions on the ground. The Mayor, Yankoty Charlemagne, explained that he had involved religious leaders in the awareness-raising campaigns. “The central government has continued to support us. We received an endowment of $130,000 to promote preventative actions from October to December. The municipal council is free to carry out flagship activities. The priority was focused on the local workforce with the construction of hand washing facilities in schools and the construction of sheds to strengthen the reception capacity in the markets. The emphasis was placed on communication in local languages. In addition, one must rethink mobility at the metropolitan level and promote the use of digital tools,” he advised.

Mr. Mouctar Mamoudou, President of the Special Delegation of Niamey, also contributed to discussions concerning West Africa.

Southern Africa

Mr. Makone Ian, Vice-President of the city of Harare in Zimbabwe, called on research laboratories across the continent to get involved in international efforts. “Two hundred and twenty-eight people have died from COVID and we don’t have enough laboratories to perform the tests. We have learned the lessons from this pandemic and one of the most important ones is the need to collaborate with universities and research centers.

Europe and South America

Mr. Cecilio Cerdán, Director General for Cooperation and International Action in the city of Madrid, Spain, stressed that the pandemic had revealed the, “need to protect vulnerable people, the homeless, and children, but also to provide liquidity to businesses to avoid bankruptcies and closures. The measures around closures have been unpopular. Many people in Madrid needed immediate help and hotel rooms were made available. 60% of our next municipal budget will be devoted to the fight against the consequences of COVID.

Ms. Giorgia from the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, spoke about the importance of cooperation between cities at the international level.

Questions were moderated by Mr. Charles Patsika, Director of the Membership Department of UCLG Africa. The Governor of Kisumu, Kenya, Mr. Anyang’ Nyong’o explained how his city had had to adopt a new business plan to deal with the pandemic. “The halt in trade due to the lockdown has led us to wonder about the development model we have followed so far and which makes us dependent on the world market for our supplies, as well as for our income. Isn’t it time to put back on the agenda the import-substitution policy followed after independence and to insist on the absolute urgency of food self-sufficiency and of the transformation of food production?’ he urged.

A following contribution was made of Dr. Tifari of the Addis Ababa City Council, who highlighted the production capacity of masks and the presence of several testing sites in the Ethiopian capital.

Action plan and plan of activities of the African Metropolitan Network

The last session of the meeting focused on the establishment of the Forum of African Metropolises. Mr. Vincent Ncho Kouach, Vice-Governor of Abidjan, and Vice-President of Metropolis, reminded us that the Forum of African Metropolises and Cities was launched on November 22, 2018 in Marrakech, during the last Africities Summit. All the members present insisted that it was not a question of a new organization, but of a mechanism to be set up within the framework of the umbrella organization of local governments of the African continent, UCLG Africa.

The forum aims to be:

  1. A framework to strengthen cooperation between African metropolises;
  2. A space for debate, advocacy and a platform for the exchange of experiences, in order to contribute to the narrative on metropolitan governance, institutional models, vision and approaches to governance;
  3. A platform for managing and sharing knowledge in the field of metropolitan management;
  4. The united and strong voice of African metropolises, capable of influencing the Global Agenda and advocating within the AU, and finally, making an African contribution to the debates within the UCLG and Metropolis networks;
  5. A provider of solutions in the search for endogenous innovative financing and in the mobilization of investments for sustainable economic development leading to growth, wealth creation and jobs for young Africans;
  6. A place for experimentation with the peer review and learning mechanism in order to help implement the goals of the urban agendas and to discuss the development and implementation of appropriate tools;
  7. Strengthening cities’ diplomacy in areas such as migration management, living together, managing diversity in metropolitan areas and improving the quality of life of citizens.

Participants of the webinar praised this initiative and expressed their wish for its immediate implementation. They invited all the capital cities and all the millionaire cities to join the forum and recommended that the UCLG Africa secretariat initiate the necessary procedures for this purpose.

Identified Themes

Action points and flagship themes have been proposed to serve as work pillars for the Forum’s three-year action plan:

  • Planning for the economic and ecological transition;
  • Innovative financing and massive investment to build infrastructure;
  • Economic development;
  • Basic services: health, water, food systems and policies, and energy;
  • Social inclusion and sustainability;
  • Support for living together and migration issues (migration and urbanization);
  • Leadership in sustainable development and support to peripheral towns and municipalities through subsidiarity;
  • Inclusive and transparent metropolitan governance to become a credible partner in Africa’s development and for the implementation of the SDGs, the Climate Agenda, the New Urban Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 with institutions, but also with African populations;
  • Cities diplomacy.

The debate on a roadmap was initiated in Marrakech but has not been finalized.

Some avenues that have been proposed:

  • to be an observer within the AU or a privileged interlocutor.
  • to put the question of the urbanization of cities on the agenda of Heads of State and make it a subject of the African Union’s annual meeting;
  • to establish a tripartite dialogue for a true territorialization of public policies;
  • to have the charter on decentralization ratified by African states;
  • to define a clear political agenda and assume leadership around regional champions as locomotives;
  • to have a more detailed knowledge of statistics and data in our metropolises for effective decision-making in partnership with universities, the research community, think tanks, the private sector, and multilateral institutions;
  • to create a narrative of African metropolises and rethink the design of our cities.

Key messages

In conclusion, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi recalled the key messages to take away from the exchanges and debates of the webinar:

  1. We are all part of a global, urban ecosystem where metropolises are the interface between the national urban system, the continental urban system, and the global urban system. This interface makes metropolises the entry point for all that is good and bad on our continent. Metropolises are both the entry point for the virus and the point where the virus spreads across the country, but at the same time, they are the place where the struggle can be best organized, because they are the interface between the international, national and local levels of governance, and where a multi-level and multi-actor approach can be organized. It is important that the leaders of metropolises understand the leverage effect of metropolises through their role as an interface.
  2. Contrary to popular belief, public authorities were the authorities that steered the fight in the face of the virus, with the national government on the one hand and metropolitan governments and other local authorities on the other. Metropolitan governments and cities have shown greater responsiveness in the fight against the virus due to their proximity to the population. They are the agents who placed the emphasis on preventative health measures while at the national level the emphasis was placed on curative health. It is important to note that part of the success observed in Africa comes from the progress made in the implementation of environmental health and hygiene measures by metropolitan and municipal governments.
  3. COVID has highlighted a number of shortcomings in metropolitan and municipal administrations in the preparation and organization of relief for health and other disasters, especially in the planning and provision of funeral services. This is an area where metropolitan governments should cooperate more to improve this preparedness.
  4. COVID raises the need to revisit the development model in Africa, in that we need to reverse the trend of our over-reliance on imports and exports in the global market. Greater attention needs to be paid to self-reliance in food production and processing, import substitution and better distribution of human settlements, as well as a better use of urban areas and a better integration of urban functions.
  5. We need to learn more about ourselves, what we do and about what we can learn from international experience, including the experiences of metropolises. This is why the creation of an African Metropolitan Forum can only strengthen this mutual learning and this partnership, which would also participate in the construction of the necessary global partnership of metropolitan regions around the world, because metropolitan governments and cities will, after all, be the guardians of the human face of international relations and of solidarity.


The dynamics of the informal sector in African cities: Support methods & best practices for sustainable and inclusive local economic development (LED)

Long criticized, the informal sector is now recognized on a global and regional scale; its economic and social impact is such that it is considered an alternative to socio-economic crises and shocks; it is also seen as a shock absorber against shocks imposed by the labor market and the inexorable rise in unemployment, and referred to as support or promotional aid, especially since it is considered by the International Labor Office as “the goose that lays the golden eggs that creates jobs and wealth”[1]

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the informal sector is “a collection of units producing goods and services with the main purpose of creating jobs and income for those concerned. These units, having a low level of organization, operate on a small scale and in a specific way, with little or no division between labor and capital as factors of production. Labor relations, where they exist, are mainly based on casual employment, kinship relations or personal and social relations rather than on contractual agreements with formal guarantees.” [2]

Africa is the continent, which to date has the most people living in the informal sector. It represents the vast majority with 85.5% of informal jobs, including 71.9% outside agriculture[3]. Thus, the informal sector occupies a dominant place in African economies. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the informal sector shrinks according to the increase in income level. It accounts for around 40% of GDP, on average, for low-income countries and 35% of GDP for middle-income countries[4]. In addition, it is “an essential component of most sub-Saharan economies” with a contribution to GDP ranging between 25% and 65%, an estimated weight of between 30% and 90% of non-agricultural employment.[5].

Read more in the last issue of LEDNA Newsletter , here

Presentation of the ESSEC Grand Prizes for the City of Solidarity and Responsible Real Estate

The winners of the second edition of the ESSEC Grand Prizes for the City of Solidarity and Responsible Real Estate were announced on 21 September 2020 at a ceremony held at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in Paris.

As in the first edition (2019), UCLG Africa is among the partners of the event alongside the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF), the Federation of Real Estate and Property Companies (FSIF), the Métropole du Grand Paris (MGP), the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, the Abbé Pierre Foundation, Housing Europe, the Sustainable Building Plan, Solidarités Nouvelles pour le Logement (SNL) and Uniopss.

About sixty applications were registered in the 5 competing categories and 7 trophies were awarded, including special jury prizes.

The African City of Solidarity and Sustainability Prize was awarded for the initiative: Rural reintegration by the ASA: urban exodus, solution to rural exodus. ASA is a Malagasy association that offers homeless or at-risk families in Antananarivo a path to reintegration into agriculture. The rural reintegration project consists of training homeless Malagasy families in agriculture over a period of three years, enabling them to migrate to rural areas 300 km west of the capital. These new farmers become self-sufficient and become owners of their homes and land within a few years.

The jury particularly appreciated this project for its impact on the population of the slums of Antananarivo, its long-term vision of accompanying the beneficiaries through professional training for a sustainable solution over time (More details on the project here).

Other projects nominated in the category were: Sustainable waste management in the city of Lomé through selective sorting and recycling presented by African Science and Technology for Sustainable Development, Support Project for Housing Reconstruction in the Suburbs of Dakar, Senegal, presented by URBASEN and FSH, Manguissa Eco Neighborhood presented by Messibat International, Ecodome Maroc presented by Youness Ouazri and Program Ecocollect, presented by RED PLAST.

The winners of the other categories are:

Grand Paris Prize for Urban Innovation: Weco, a project led by the Quatorze association in Metz, Triel-sur-Seine and Montreuil ( More info)

Hospital City Award: Lodgings for a new form of social housing for homeless families, a project led by the Samu Social de Paris et Galia (More info)

Responsible and Innovative Housing Award: Living in the Beguinage, a project led by the Vivr’Alliance Group, France Béguinages and the Association Vivre en Béguinage (More Info)

Solidarity Financing and Sustainable City Award: Solifap, the solidarity investment company that fights for better housing (More info)

Special Jury Prize: Day care and therapeutic apartments for autistic children and young adults by the Association Le Silence des Justes by Quartus Résidentiel.  (More Info)

Special Jury Mention: (Special Mention exceptionally awarded by the jury to a candidate to salute all of their solidarity actions): awarded to Julien Beller, architect. (More Info).

Consult the presentation brochure for details of the winners.

Cities and Local Responses in the Management of the Coronavirus Pandemic in Africa: Sub-regional Consultations for Eastern and Southern Africa

The Coordination for the Africa Region of the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy (IODP Africa), in collaboration with Enda ECOPOP, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) and its ALGA Academy, have launched a series of regional consultations on the response of cities and localities in the management of the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.

On 03 September and 15 September 2020, the 4th and 5th consultations for the Eastern and Southern Africa region were held.

The objective of the consultations is to share and discuss the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic in African cities through lived experiences, impact on local development, democracy and citizen participation and to advocate for the support of IOPD Africa activities.

Both sessions were moderated by Mr. Bachir Kanouté, IOPD Coordinator for Africa and ENDA-Ecopop.

Mr. Jean Pierre Elong MBASSI, Secretary General of UCLG Africa was represented by Dr. Najat ZARROUK, Director of ALGA of UCLG Africa.

UCLG Africa, through its Academy, has sought to mobilize speakers from South Africa, Mauritius, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Uganda and Zambia to present their experiences and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read the scoping note here.

Joint UCLG Africa / OECD webinar on « The Governance and the Economy of Water Security in Africa »

As part of the preparation of the 9th forum organized by the OECD in March 2021 in Dakar (Senegal) on “governance and economics of water security for sustainable development in Africa”, the OECD in collaboration with UCLG Africa is organizing a webinar on September 17, 2020 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. as part of the survey launched among some forty African cities.

The purpose of this webinar is to allow an exchange and discussion with the cities that responded to the questionnaire, as well as a feedback and observations that will be taken into account in order to finalize the results of the survey.

The OECD partner institutions for the work program on water governance in Africa, as well as Mayors and representatives of cities contacted to respond to the survey, are invited to participate in this webinar.

Register here.


PS: The session will be in French

Towards a post-Covid-19 economic and financial recovery of local and regional governments in Africa : Overview of recovery plans and economic support measures

The health wave of the Covid-19 pandemic seems less important than those experienced in Europe and Asia. However, Africa remains fragile in terms of health with coverage rates of health structures among the lowest in the world, and all the more so as successive waves of the pandemic are to be feared. In all countries, central, regional and local governments have anticipated by taking the barrier measures that have slowed the spread of the disease. If the contamination figures remain at low levels, the repercussions of the measures taken to prevent the pandemic from developing could call into question the progress made over the past decade in terms of improving the living conditions of the populations.

The economic situation is therefore likely to deteriorate structurally to the point where the African Development Bank (AfDB) forecasts that “nearly 50 million Africans will fall into extreme poverty and that a third of Africans, or 425 million people., live below the poverty line[1]“. The face of this poverty will largely be represented by the increasing numbers of slum dwellers in our cities and informal sector workers [2].

At the territorial level, the impact is likely to be greater according to UCLG Africa [3], particularly in terms of financial resources and investment expenditure of local authorities. The results of simulations carried out from two scenarios[4], based on data from the Observatory of Local Finances, suggest a real collapse in the financial resources of local authorities, of the order of 30% to 60% depending on the regions of Africa and the sizes of cities. As for investment expenditure, their level will drop by around 25% to 40% depending on the regions of Africa and the sizes of cities ; the level of investment spending would be close to 0 for small towns and intermediate towns[5].

On another level, many analysts agree that beyond the issue s of public health, management of the pandemic now questions the development model that most states have adopted in the context of globalization. Beyond issues related to the development of short circuits rather than long circuits, the territorialization of public policies must be at the heart of the changes to come. Among these, the local authorities must, while managing the emergency and the daily problems, put in place the conditions for anticipating the changes that will take place in the long term.

To organize the process of exiting the crisis, it is important to have in sight not only the response to the emergency, but also the implementation of strategies to revive economic activity. The local authorities should fight Covid-19 in three – and often overlapping – phases:

Read more in the latest issue of LEDNA’s bimonthly Newsletter, available here