Participation of UCLG Africa in the Senegalese-Moroccan conference on decentralized cooperation in Dakar

The Secretary General of UCLG Africa Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi participated in the Senegalese-Moroccan conference on decentralized cooperation on January 15 and 16, 2024 in Dakar, Senegal, organized under the high patronage of His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal. Ivory Coast was the guest of honor, represented by the President of the Union of Cities and Communes of Ivory Coast (UVICOCI) Mr. Paulin Claude DANHO. UCLG Africa and the Council of Local Authorities of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (CCT-WAEMU) were also invited. The official opening ceremony was presided by H.E Modou Diagne Fada, Minister of Local Authorities, Planning and Territorial Development. The ceremony was punctuated by an inaugural lecture on the history of the secular and multidimensional relations between Senegal and Morocco by Professor Massamba Gueye, who highlighted the foundations of the ties that unite the two countries and the two brotherly peoples, deeply rooted, historical ties of fraternity and cooperation that have fostered a common identity. This is why the international action of local authorities and city diplomacy is totally consistent with the national diplomacy of both countries, and the Senegalese-Moroccan conference was a very important opportunity to anchor relations between Morocco and Senegal more firmly at the level of their respective peoples. 

Signing of agreements 

Following the opening ceremony, a series of partnership agreements were signed between Senegalese and Moroccan local authorities. Work was then organized around four themes:  

Theme 1: A look at the state of decentralization in Morocco and Senegal.  

Theme 2: Financing mechanisms for local authorities in Senegal and Morocco.  

Theme 3: The role of digitalization and dematerialization in the efficient management of local authorities.  

Theme 4: Exchange of experience on financial management, digital transformation, waste management and landscaping.  

Representatives of Senegal’s local and regional government shared the experience of the Municipal Development Agency’s Support Program for Municipalities and Agglomerations in Senegal (PACASEN); the Treasury Department’s GEFILOC experience; and the experience of Sénégal Numérique, the public agency in charge of Senegal’s digital transformation. The Regional Support Program for Financial Decentralization in West Africa (PRADEF) and the Local Cross-Border Cooperation Program (PCTL) of the CCT-WAEMU were also presented. 

On the Moroccan side, presentations and experience-sharing focused on waste management in the city of Tangier and Morocco’s secondary cities; the digitalization of local authority management, the case of the Province of Berkane; urban mobilization management, the example of Casablanca; the M’Goun Geo Park in the province of Azilal, a tool for promoting eco-tourism; the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), an innovative approach to improving the living conditions of women and young people, supporting the social and solidarity economy, and improving school enrolment, particularly in rural areas; the Moroccan Network of Open Local Authorities (REMACTO) with a view to implementing the Support Program for Open Local Authorities (PACTO).  

The presentation of experiences gave rise to rich exchanges which led to the following main recommendations:  

1) Institutionalize the organization of the conference and improve its frequency. Participants felt that the time elapsed between the first conference (2006) and the current conference (2024) was incompatible with regular monitoring of the actions selected. A more frequent frequency was suggested (every 2 or 3 years),  

2) Consider organizing pan-African conferences on decentralized cooperation, along the lines of the Senegalese-Moroccan conferences,  

3) Set up a national funding mechanism in Senegal to support decentralized cooperation, based on the FACDI model of the General Directorate of Local Authorities (DGCT) of the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, in order to increase the resources allocated to decentralized cooperation and balance the corresponding partnership relations, 

4) Make decentralized cooperation an essential way for local authorities to contribute to strengthening economic and social relations between Senegal and Morocco,  

5) Rely on the momentum of decentralized cooperation to initiate and contribute to the development of crafts, industrialization of the continent and the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Zone (AfCFTA),  

6) Ensure the systematic creation of technical commissions and BtoB commissions to translate the commitments set out in partnership agreements into concrete areas of cooperation in a win-win spirit,  

7) Propose a clear distribution of the benefits of mining activities between the State and local authorities that support mining activities or are affected by them.  

On the sidelines of the conference, participants had the honor of being received in audience at the Presidential Palace by His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal, on January 15, 2024. This audience enabled participants to verify the strong commitment to decentralized cooperation at the highest level.