The Africities 7 Summit ends its proceedings this morning at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The next Summit will take place in Central Africa, in Brazzaville, three years from now, for the eighth Summit.
As we were going to press, the new president of United Cities and Local Government of Africa (UCLG-A) was not elected yet. The balance of the summit is that there is a clear feeling emerging through the 92 sessions that have succeeded as mayors tackle the many problems of daily life faced by the populations for which they are responsible. Ministers and international cooperation institutions of are not left out, and promise to join hands to achieve the goals of Vision 2063 for Africa. Mayors, ministers and development partners expressed yesterday, 2 December, their willingness to hold fruitful exchanges during the opening speeches of the political sessions ceremony.
The opening ceremony of the political sessions of the Africities 7 Summit was held in the presence of an august gathering comprised of ministers of mayors of traditional authorities, development partners and various participants in the summit. The agenda of these sessions was communicated by Mr. Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). They were punctuated by meetings between mayors and local authorities, meetings between ministers, and meetings between development partners, to finally lead to the tripartite dialogue meeting” of Mayors-Ministers– Development Partners scheduled this morning. The eight official speeches of various stakeholders bode well for the holding of frank debates.
In its welcome speech, the Executive Mayor of the city of Johannesburg, M. Parks Tau, insisted on the fact that one must seize this opportunity to take into account the recommendations of the various sessions that have been hosted by the summit. The mayor also launched a strong message for the unity of the continent at the grassroots. “Today we must learn from the past in order to free us from the yoke of colonization. We must consolidate our efforts and work together, regardless of our countries of origin. We must follow the example of our peers Julius Nyerere, Nkwame Nkrumah, and many others. Racism, regionalism and xenophobia cannot exist in any African society. We must build on the past achievements to realize the vision of Agenda 2063 for Africa”.
Following him, Mr. Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar and President of UCLG-A, described the political sessions as being “the most important part of the summit.” He called his fellow mayors to self-transcend themselves. “There is no subject that cannot be addressed if one has the will to excel. Living together means accepting the others. Do not think about yourself but about what has been done and especially about what remains to be done. If we fail to agree within our organization we shall not be able to talk to the partners”. Concerning national authorities, M. Sall said: “It is through an agreement with the national authorities that we can build effective local governance. We need to see how to build dialogue mechanisms.. . Following the adoption by the African Union of the charter on decentralization and the establishment of the Higher Council for Local Governments, one should address the thinking and implementation aspects. This could enable us to have a better reading of decentralization. Transfer of powers must mean transfer of means, as mayors are the first approached by the people. We can no longer have local governments live only on taxes and levies. We need to think of new resources. Dear development partners, open up to the local authorities, offer solutions so that we are standalone. Do not leave us as hostages of the states under the pretext that you are intergovernmental organizations. “
M. Parvin Gordhan, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of (COGTA) of South Africa, called for the implementation of the already existing policies with a view to a transformation of local governments in Africa. “Ministers also care about the transformation of local governance. To meet the challenge of the fight against poverty and inequality, Agenda 2063 provides guidance for cities. We must see how to apply its policies and not create new policies. The ministers and mayors should centrally explore all collaborative mechanisms. It is time for us to be able to transform local governments in Africa”.
In her speech, Ms. Takyiwaa Manuh, Director of Social Development at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, highlighted the significant inequalities that still affect the population of the continent and the role of urbanization as a solution. “In Agenda 2063 there are agricultural modernization initiatives. Urbanization facilitates industrial production and is a key element in the transformation of rural economies. The role of local authorities is important in urban development. The deliberations of this Summit must strengthen Africa’s position of Africa on the implementation of Agenda 2063 over the next ten years. “
Tackling also the issue of urbanization, Ms. Aisa Karibo Kacyira, UN-Habitat Director, welcomed the fact that the Africities Summit is a platform for dialogue to transform people’s future. In the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, people don’t speak anymore of North / South relationships but of partnership. More than 60% of our populations are found in slums. This is unforgivable. We must solve this problem. UN-Habitat thinks that Agenda 2063 must be a full-fledged part of the process. We must make a holistic and critical diagnosis. This will help our leaders to carry out activities during their short term in office. “
Amadou Oumarou, Transport Director at the African Development Bank (AfDB), also argues that “ local governments will be major players in the transformation of cities. AfDB has established a municipal development fund to support municipalities. However, our resources will never be sufficient. We must also strengthen the technical capacities of local governments and foster more partnerships with the private sector. “
The representative of the World Bank , Idrissa Dia said that his institution supports “the role of local governments for the next three years. Most of the urbanization efforts will take place in the future. So there is time to repair the mistakes of the past. “
Ms. Rosario Bento Pais, from the European Commission, closed the speeches stating that “the European Union supports local authorities as the main player in the fight against poverty. For 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, one needs local authorities to get involved. They have a key role to play in achieving these SDG’s. It is by working together that we can meet the various challenges.