UCLG Africa Regional Strategic Meeting: West Africa Commits to Mobilizing for Massive Participation in the Upcoming Africities Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco, November 20-24, 2018

The United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) held its regional strategic meeting for West Africa at the Tang Palace Hotel in Accra, Ghana, May 28-29, 2018. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG).

This gathering was the fourth UCLG Africa strategic meeting. Previous strategic meetings were held in Nairobi, Kenya, April 10-11, 2018 for the East Africa region; Libreville, Gabon, April 16-17 for the Central Africa region; and Walvis-Bay, Namibia, May 7-8 for the Southern Africa region.

All fifteen countries in the West Africa region participated in the meeting: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.  Delegates included presidents from the national associations of local governments, leaders from the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) and permanent secretaries of the national associations of local governments.

The meeting was officially opened by the Honourable Hajia Alima Maham, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Ghana, in the presence of the Honourable Ishmael Ashitey, Regional Minister of Greater Accra; Honourable Nii Felix Anang, Mayor of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly and President of NALAG; and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa. Other participants included key stakeholders from local governments in Ghana such as Dr Frederic Varenne, the Representative of the European Union Delegation in Ghana; Executive Secretary from the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Decentralization, Ing. Salifu Mahama; the head of the Local Government Service Secretariat, Dr. Nana Ato Arthur; the Coordinator of the Ghana Urban Management Project, Mr. Aloysius Bongwa; the Director of the Ghana Urban Institute, Prosper Dzansi; and the President of the Ghana Association for Public Administration and Management, Dr. Gifty Oforiwa Gyamera. 

The Honourable Hajia Alima Mahama expressed her pleasure that the Accra meeting was scheduled to discuss the progress of decentralization in the West Africa Region and would strategize on ways to enhance the effective implementation of decentralization policies and good governance in local government as well as address the emerging challenges encountered in the day to day management of communities. She then declared the meeting officially open.

Proceedings were chaired by the Honourable Nii Felix Anang, President of NALAG and moderated by Mr Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa. 

At the opening session, members were presented with the main agendas that local and regional authorities of Africa would discuss. These included Agenda 2063 of the African Union; the African charter on democracy and elections; the African charter on the values and principles of public service; the African charter on the values and principles of decentralization, local governance and local development; the African Union protocol on women’s equality; and the creation of the high council of local authorities as a consultative body of the African Union.

– At the Africa level, participants were called upon to consider the urgency of having their respective countries sign and ratify the African charter on the values and principles of decentralization, local governance and local development. Since its adoption by the heads of state and government of the African Union in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2014, the charter has been signed by 13 countries but ratified by only 3 countries (Madagascar, Burundi and Namibia) with none from West Africa. The Charter will become a legal instrument of the African Union when it is signed and ratified by 15 countries and filed with the African Union Commission. Participants resolved to set up a special committee that will visit the different countries of the region to speed up the signing and ratification of the charter. 

– At the global level consideration was given to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; the Sendai Protocol on disaster management; the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development goals; the Paris agreement on climate change and the New Urban Agenda.

It was advised that local and regional governments should intervene on these agendas to localize the goals and objectives; plan the way forward for their implementation; and to conduct a process of measuring, reporting and verifying what they were doing regarding their implementation.

Participants were then introduced to the New Urban Agenda adopted by the UN in Quito in October 2016, taking into consideration the fact that like other regions of the world, Africa is urbanizing at a rapid pace and that its urban population would be 1.2 billion people within 30 years. Decision makers were challenged to change their attitudes and to accept urbanization as a fact and address the issues of urban growth in Africa, which would translate into the growth of slums and informal settlements. It would be essential that employment was addressed and that jobs were provided for the 300 million young people who would enter the labour market in the ensuing years, given the fact that the majority of city dwellers are young people under 20 years old, hence the insistence that local and regional government leaders take bold steps now. The time has come for local authorities to take the lead in managing the urban challenge.

Dr Alioune Badiane, former Director of the Programme Division of UN-HABITAT emphasized the need for:

– Advocating for the advancement of decentralization and the setting up of an enabling environment for local and regional governments actions and initiatives.

– Reforming the legislative framework of urbanization with a special focus on land regulation to boost land supply and to contribute to the densification of the urban fabric

– City planning involving all urban dwellers, including informal settlement urban dwellers 

– Radically revitalizing the financing mechanisms of local and regional governments with new arrangements for enhanced mobilization of resources, access to loans and the financial market and innovative partnerships, including that with the private sector; the 3Ps (Public Private Partnership or Public People Partnership); or 4Ps (Public, Private, People Partnership).

The meeting then reviewed the status of UCLG Africa’s membership in West Africa. Membership declarations were expected from UCLG Africa in the region, but of the 15 members only 8 had complied. 7 were yet to complete the survey and promised to send the required information to the West Africa Regional Office of UCLG Africa.
This was followed by a session in which participants exchanged information on the state of decentralization in the West Africa Region and the need to lobby national governments to ‘walk the talk’ by effectively implementing the transfer of financial and human resources to local governments; enhance the representation of women in local government; and to recognize the role of local authorities in the fight against climate change and corruption, pointing out the need for capacity building of local authorities and citizen participation in local governance. In West Africa, women were still under represented in local government and the financial transfer of resources was still low. On the issue of gender, Senegal had the made the most progress with regards to total parity. Local government budgets represented on average, between 3 -7% of the national government budgets across the region.
During the second day of the meeting, participants were informed about UCLG Africa’s programs and network. Among the highlights were: the African Cities Development Fund whose launch is expected to take place at the coming Africities Summit in Marrakesh, Morocco; the UCLG Africa Climate Task Force that was launched during COP 23 in November 2017 in Bonn, Germany; and the launch of the African Local Government Academy, ALGA.

ALGA, which is intended to boost the capacities, professionalism and ethical behaviour of local and regional government administrations across the continent, offers an Executive Masters course for senior staff of African local governments and a series of specialized courses delivered through the ALGA colleges. ALGA’s courses, as well as its Executive Masters, are delivered by its anchor institutions across Africa; with two based in Ghana. ALGA has also concluded a series of agreements to form part of the most important networks of training and research institutions in the world. It provides training and capacity building courses for all of UCLG Africa’s networks. These include: the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA); the network of City Managers (Africa MAGNET); the network of City Chief Finance Officers (Africa FINET); the network of City Chief Technical Officers (Africa TECHNET) and the network of Human Resource Managers of African Local and Regional Governments (Local Africa HR-Net).

Also discussed was the setting up of a local authority transparency and integrity index.  To achieve this, municipalities were invited to create a website to disseminate key information to its citizens. Participants also received information on UCLG Africa’s Pan Africa Peer Review.
Participants were informed about the launch of three main campaigns from the three-year action plan of REFELA  (2018-2020) namely: African Cities without Street Children; African Cities Zero Tolerance to Violence Against Women; and African Cities Promoting Women’s Leadership and Economic Empowerment. Participants committed to support these campaigns across the region and promised to encourage as many cities as possible to subscribe.  
This was followed by a presentation of the 8th edition of the Africities Summit to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco, from November 20-24, 2018 on the theme, ‘The transition to sustainable cities and territories: The role of local and regional governments of Africa’: This theme was proposed by leaders from local Africa to address the implementation of Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 at city and territorial level.

Over 5,000 people are expected to participate in the Africities Summit. Online registration for the conference is now open on the Africities website, www.africites.org and for the Africities Exhibition at www.salonafricites2018.com. Members from West Africa were encouraged to start the mobilization for the summit. They were also informed that the general assembly of UCLG Africa will take place on November 23, 2018 as part of the summit and that each region should start caucusing in order to designate its candidates to a seat on UCLG Africa bodies. Candidatures will be received by the UCLG Africa secretariat on November 22, 2018, by 17:00 hours.

Africities: The most important democratic gathering in Africa.
Africities is the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s flagship pan-African event that is held every three years in one of the five regions of Africa.

The meeting discussed the issue of UCLG Africa’s relationship with the European Union. In 2013, the EU adopted a communication, which for the first time recognized local authorities as fully-fledged public authorities. Following this recognition, the European Union has entered into a framework partnership agreement with international and continental associations of local governments, including UCLG Africa. Participants were informed that, in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 EU Communication on Local Authorities, national associations can be considered as having a monopoly position in their respective countries and as such, can access EU cooperation funds allocated to local authorities without going through a call for proposals, provided they present and discuss with the EU delegation an implementation program agreed with the members of the said national association.

Participants were also informed of the negotiations on the post-Cotonou Agreement that will govern the cooperation relationship between the African Union and the European Union for the next 20 years, starting in September 2018. They were asked to advocate for their respective countries to back the position of the African Union and that negotiations take place between the European Union and the African Union and not between the European Union and the ACP countries, which results in splitting Africa, with Sub-Saharan Africa separated from the African countries bordering the Mediterranean, which are included in the European neighbouring countries cooperation.

The last UCLG Africa regional strategic meeting for the North Africa Region will take place in Rabat (Morocco), June 18-19, 2018. 

For further information, please contact:

Gaëlle Yomi: Tel: +212 610 56 71 45

Email: gyomi@uclga.org

Em Ekong: Tel: +44 7801 701 675
Email: eekong@uclga.org