The training workshop on the Territorial Approach to Local Development (TALD), organized by the General Secretariat of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa,) brought together the main officials of the organization from both the headquarters and the regional offices. This training workshop had several objectives:
-Responding to the new guidelines for European cooperation, which now recognize the place and roles of cities and local authorities as state actors and as development actors;
– Strengthen the role of National Associations of Local and Regional Authorities (and networks) as an institutional interface in the political dialogue with the EU Delegations in the future programing of cooperation and its implementation;
– Strengthen the Associations’ capacities to actively support their members, in particular with a view to making territorial development a major focus for the mobilization of local resources (human, financial and natural) and the transition towards sustainable development and the achievement of SDGs.
Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa, stated that the world today is torn between the dynamics of globalization, which has shown its limits, and territorialization. This situation puts local and regional authorities in the front line, hence the question of the territorial dimension of development and the need for dialogue between the members of UCLG Africa, the States and the actors of social transformation. Mbassi further stated that there is a demand from the European Union on this subject, but also a legitimate demand from local and regional authorities, hence the need for UCLG Africa to understand and take ownership of the territorial approach to local development. The Secretary General concluded his remarks by specifying that this approach requires a change that UCLG Africa must, first of all, integrate in order to bring its members to adopt this approach.
The program was as follows:
– Day 1: Local and territorial development;
– Day 2: * The role of National Associations and UCLG Africa in promoting development and the role of local and regional governments in partner countries;
* Link between the role of the Associations and UCLG Africa in promoting the role of local and regional governments in development, in cooperation with the European Union at national level;
– Day 3: Involvement in the work of UCLG Africa.
Focus on Decentralization in Africa
Devolution in decentralization refers to three traditional aspects: fiscal, political and administrative. It is a transfer of power to the local level which induces a reorganization of the entire power system. Decentralization is a constantly evolving process.
The question arises as to whether decentralization produces development. At this level, it should be noted that all decentralization reforms have been designed for political, rather than developmental, reasons. The nature of the decentralizing State is also a crucial element to consider insofar as there are predatory States, States that do not consider local and regional authorities as partners.
The current trends in decentralization in Africa are:
Rapid metropolization of cities;
Territorialization of public policies;
Reforms under way in several countries;
Lessons learned include the following:
The irreversibility of decentralization.
The need for reform to bring decentralization into line;
The principle of subsidiarity;
The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development;
The African Day of Decentralization and Local Development.
The following challenges were identified:
To set decentralization in stone.
Strengthen local leadership;
Principle of subsidiarity to empower local authorities;
Coalition of actors at the territorial level;
Innovative financing mechanism and integration of green financing;
Define the relationship between decentralization-democracy, then decentralization-transparency.