The city of Praia (Cape Verde) hosted the 4th edition of the World Forum on Local Economic Development (LED), September 17-20, 2017. The forum was a platform for exchange about local economic development issues and was the first to be organized on the continent.
In his opening address the Head of State for the Republic of Cape Verde, H. E. Jorge Carlos Fonseca stated, “Economic development must have people as its subject and recipients. To achieve this, we must include local authorities in all public development policies.”
The Prime Minister Mr. Ulisses Correia e Silva (who was the former mayor of Praia), appealed to local governments to become more involved in policy making, especially in Africa. This sentiment was echoed in the speech of Parks Tau, President of UCLG and spokesperson for local and regional authorities of the world, who reminded everyone that the well-being of all depended on the implementation of a territorial approach to Local Economic Development through Agenda 2030. “I invite you to ensure that this forum is more than just an exchange of experiences. It also needs to be a forum for the implementation of development policies in order to build inclusive and sustainable economic growth at the local level. Local and regional governments must promote LEDs on the basis of solidarity and cohesion.”
The event brought together actors from government, local authorities, development partners, civil society, etc., and included the participation of UCLG Africa, represented by the Secretary General, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi and the Director of Programs, Dr. François Yatta.
UCLG Africa hosted two sessions on Wednesday October 17, 2017.
The first session invited local authorities to comment on the theme, Climate Change and LEDs: How to mitigate the effects of climate change while promoting Local Economic Development. Panelists from Cape Verde, Burkina Faso and Rwanda shared a number of good practices from their countries.
The LED program, launched in 2002, is an integrated model with some villages seeing convincing results through their reforestation program. The success of the environmental preservation aspects has been largely due to the involvement of several actors: the State, local authorities, local associations and schools. “We organize participatory meetings in the villages with the inhabitants,” explained Vincent Rutaremara of the Rwandese Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA). “The existence of an economic development policy is essential to effectively fight against climate change, because environmental degradation affects economic activities.”
The use of solar energy has been the chosen alternative in the fight against climate change. Charles Dallas, Regional Development Director in the Ministry of Finance, explained how the government was inspired by the ECOLOC project launched by UCLG Africa. “From 2005 onwards, we have benefited from the ECOLOC project initiated by UCLG Africa in Burkina Faso. The aim of this project was to make the regions into economic focal points. It is on the basis of this model that the national economic and social development plan (PNDES) has been launched in Burkina Faso since 2016. Our localities face infrastructure problems, so we use solar energy (solar lamps) or sometimes hybrid energy in rural areas. For example, rural women who market milk can store their food in refrigerators powered by both types of energy. In the case of LEDs in Burkina Faso, we use the principles of co-financing.”
Aguinaldo David, Executive Director of the Cape Verde Friends of Nature Association, discussed the extent to which his association has been fighting deforestation for 40 years. The country has a forest mass of 5000 tons.
The second session, Informal Economy Between Regularization and Access in Transition Phases, saw speakers highlight the difficulty of using a single definition of the informal sector and the complexities that surround the issue of regularization of the sector. In some countries, such as Niger, there are cumbersome procedures for setting up businesses. On the continent, street vendors make up 80% of the informal sector.
“Local authorities are key to helping informal entrepreneurs put value into their work and create a strategy to include their employment into the formal local economy,” argued Dr. Juma Nyende, Director of the UCLG Africa Regional Office for East Africa.
The role played by local and regional governments was recognized as essential as they form an indispensable link between all actors in the business sector, from the formal to informal entrepreneur. Local and regional governments can facilitate and support all economic actors in their contribution to a local economic development strategy.