Working session with UCLG Africa/EARO

On 4 May the secretary general of UCLG Africa held meetings in Dodoma in the one hand, with Hon George B. Simbachawene, Minister, President’Office, Regional Administration & Local Government in presence of Mr. Bernard B. Makali, Deputy Secretary General, President’s Office, Regional Administration & Local Government; and the other hand, Hon. Augustine P. Mahiga, Minister of Foreign Affairs, East African, Regional and Intenational Cooperation.

Also were in attendance to these meetings, Hon. Gulamhafeez Abubakar Mukadam, Mayor, Shinyanga Council, Chairperson ALAT; Habraham Shamamoyo, secretary general, ALAT; Menhya Nyende, director UCLG AFRICA/EARO.

1. Debrief on the contacts with the Tanzanian Government on 4 May the secretary general, UCLG AFRICA held.

The first meeting took place at 11:30 with the minister of local governments and staff. After a quick presentation of the Organization, the UCLG AFRICA secretary general explained that the main objective of the requested meetings were to submit to the ministers the Headquarters agreement to  be signed between the Government of Tanzania and the UCLG AFRICA for the hosting of the UCLG AFRICA regional office for the Eastern Africa Region in Tanzania. The meetings offered also the opportunity to sensitize the respective ministers on the African charter on values and principles of decentralization, local governance and local development, and the need for Tanzania to be one of the first 15 countries to sign it, ratify it and deposit instruments at the African Union Commission following which the charter will become a binding AU document. ALAT chairperson supported the proposal to establish the HQ of EARO in Arusha since this city was already hosting EALGA secretariat.


The minister of local governments showed a lot of interest for hosting UCLG AFRICA EARO in Tanzania. Given the financial implications of the proposal he, however, advised that the issue be tabled in cabinet, before a final decision can be taken, which will take some time. He also acknowledged the request that the government of Tanzania should be among the first countries to sign and ratify the charter on decentralization, and promised to take initiatives in that regard.


While waiting for the final decision pertaining to the signing of the HQ agreement, the UCLG AFRICA secretary general raised the issue of the work permit for the foreign staff of UCLG AFRICA/EARO. The minister of local government directed that this issue be dealt with as a matter of urgency and requested the deputy permanent secretary, which is the contact person in the ministry on that matter, to submit the appropriate solution as soon as possible.

In a subsequent meeting held the same day at 14:00, the minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed his support to the HQ agreement, including provision of diplomatic status, so that Tanzania becomes one of the decentralization hubs in the region and in Africa. He also stressed the need to consider giving more responsibilities and powers to local authorities as they are more and more at the frontline in addressing the challenge of improving the day-to-day living conditions of the African people at the local level. And which the minister of foreign affairs promised to support. He committed as well to look at expediting the signing, ratification and depository of the charter instruments at the AU Commission soonest.

The debrief meeting conducted at UCLG AFRICA/EARO concluded that a letter of greetings should be sent to the two ministers at a matter of urgency, reminding them of their commitments and requesting their support to expedite the signing of the HQ agreement, the process of ratification of the Charter, and the provision of work permits to external staff working at UCLG AFRICA/EARO. Copies of these letters should also be sent to ALAT.

It was also seen appropriate to seek an appointment for the UCLG AFRICA President with the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The presence in Rabat during the week of 9 May 2016 of both the UCLG AFRICA President and the ALAT Chairperson offers the opportunity to consider further this matter and define tentative date for the UCLG AFRICA President mission in Tanzania.


2. Operation of EARO

EARO director explained that there are some challenges in the operation of the office. Only two offices are available for the team of 5 people that are operating so far in EARO. Also the support staff seconded to EALGA by the city of Arusha is requested to go back on 1st July 2016 latest. And the operations are highly handicapped by the lack of the minimum equipment such as computers, printers, photocopy machines, etc.

On this issue, the UCLG AFRICA secretary general commented that most of the problems raised relate to the signing of the HQ agreement with the government of Tanzania, because the HQ agreement provides among others that the government shall give equipped offices for EARO free of charge, a house and a vehicle for the director, secondment of staff for the position of administration and finance officer, communication officer, and public relations officer, as well as support staff.


In the interim, the Head office will continue to provide resources to cover the renting and other operating costs. It is however important to clarify the legal situation of the office. Apparently the office is rent in the name of EALGCA ( East Africa Local Government and County Association) which is the legal entity recognized in the region, together with the East Africa Local Government and County Forum. However the outgone EALGA secretary sent a letter to UCLG AFRICA to ask that EALGA be integrated and mainstreamed in the setting of UCLG AFRICA regional offices. It is based on this request that the UCLG AFRICA executive committee accepted that the seat of UCLG AFRICA/EARO be located in Arusha, with the understanding that EALGA will be absorbed within EARO. Apparently, this inclusion is not acted yet de jure, and this needs to be done, also in consideration of the fact that all members of EALGA are also members of EARO. The regional office should take this matter up so to avoid any further confusion about the representation of Local Government in the Eastern Africa Region. As much as possible this clarification should intervene also in the framework of the negotiation of the HQ agreement.


The secretary general further informed that normally EARO should also become a local government resource center for the Eastern Africa Region. This entails communication equipment and capacities, which cannot be put in place in a provisionary location. Here also the signing of the HQ agreement is key.


Concerning the staffing of the office, one should consider that with the three staff in place paid on UCLG AFRICA payroll, the organization has fulfilled its part of the deal, waiting for the government of Tanzania to play its part too. Interim measures will be sought with regard to the end of the secondment of the support staff. A request letter shall be sent by EARO director to the Arusha city council to that effect.


Finally, the UCLG AFRICA secretary general announced that each regional office would use the same accounting and financial system, which will be implemented during the second semester of 2016 with the assistance of the director, administration and finance at UCLG AFRICA Head office in Rabat.

3. Priority interventions

After having presented the priorities that EARO identified and wished to implement in the framework of its regional the strategy the secretary general made the following comments:


a) There is need to define a strategy for the region that puts on the map at the same time, the national associations of local governments, the regional office, and the UCLG AFRICA as a whole. The activities that have the potential to do that immediately are: (i) the signing and ratification process of the Charter, (ii) the preparation, participation and follow up on the Africities Summit, and (iii) the Mayor Awards Scheme, all of them being part of pillar 1 of the GADDEPA.


On this pillar 1 the regional office should therefore put as its first priorities intervention,  the ratification of the charter and the Mayor Award Scheme. On the ratification process the target is to get at least 5 countries of the region to sign and ratify the Charter, and deposit the instruments no later than 30 June 2016. The regional office should come up with a clear roadmap defining targeted countries, milestones and timelines, in collaboration with the respective national associations of local governments.


With regard to the Mayors Awards, ALAT and UCLG AFRICA have launched the second edition of the Mayor Awards Scheme of Tanzania in April 2016, with as aim to organize the Awards ceremony in September 2016 in Dar es Salaam. On the other hand, and with the financial support of the government of Angola, UCLG AFRICA is also organizing the second edition of the African Mayor Award (AMA) which ceremony will take place in December 2016, and Dar es Salaam is proposed as the venue of AMA ceremony. EARO is encouraged to support ALAT for the organization of MAS. It is proposed that the UCLG AFRICA/EARO Bank Account serves as the official Bank account for the MAS, which proposal was agreed upon by the ALAT secretary general. EARO director to negotiate with the Bank the creation of a subsidiary account for the MAS, which should be accessible to ALAT. EARO should also collaborate with the UCLG AFRICA Secretariat and encourage candidatures in the region to participate in AMA.


With regards to the Africities Summit, there is still some additional work to do in order to get the Africities website and App right and updated. The investment on Africities will therefore be delayed for about 2 to 3 months. Finally under this pillar, EARO should also endeavor to establish and maintain contacts with EAC and COMESA, as well as with principal development partners intervening in the  field of decentralization and local governance.


Concerning pillar 2 on Knowledge and capacity development, each regional office should draft a roadmap for the development of a local government resource center for Eastern Africa: baseline information, content offer, target audiences, partnerships, financing of activities, calendar of activities, performance measurement indicators, etc.


Furthermore, each regional office shall be the implementer of UCLG AFRICA programs in their respective region, together with the national associations in the region. It is therefore important to take advantage of the side meeting organized between the UCLG AFRICA senior staff at the Head office and the directors of the regional offices to define more precisely, what will be implemented where and when and the share and transfer of the relating resources.


Under pillar 3, institutional development, the urgency is to develop a database of local governments and their associations in each country of the region. The collection of the required data should be completed no later than 30 December 2016. The template of data collection will be discussed on 9 May 2016 on the fringes of the UCLG AFRICA Exco meeting in Rabat. EARO to propose a modus operandi and timelines for the completion of this activity according to the proposed deadline. Stemming from this database will be a series of networks to be built across the region (REFELA; FINET; Africa City Managers network; Africa CTO network); as well as benchmarks on key performances in local government management. Also stemming from the database a membership development strategy for each region, with as aim to improve the number of UCLG AFRICA active and associated members in the region. This in turn should improve the collection of membership dues, as well as the mobilization of contributions from associated members and national governments in the Region. Each regional office is requested to develop a compelling narrative for advocacy and branding of UCLG AFRICA in their respective regions taking into account their specificities.


4. Any Other Business

The topic addressed under this agenda item was about the meeting organized earlier on at the EAC with the IRI and EU Ambassador in Tanzania and EAC. It was felt that this is the kind of partnership initiatives that regional offices are encouraged to develop. The secretary general commended EARO director for this initiative and was encouraged to follow up and maintain contacts in order that the meeting outcomes are transformed into effective partnership programs and projects. This offered the opportunity for the secretary general to clarify that the regional office as a subsidiary of the UCLG AFRICA secretariat can initiate any partnership arrangements possible. The only limitation is that any legal and binding instruments shall be signed by the UCLG AFRICA secretary general, or by the regional director on behalf and following written authorization by the UCLG AFRICA secretary general.


The UCLG AFRICA secretary general also took this opportunity to thank the EARO/EALGA staff for its dedication to the development and success of the office despite obvious difficulties it is enduring. He thanked ALAT secretary general for his continuous support and expressed the wish that the situation become normal in the near future.


Done in Arusha, 6 May 2016


Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi

Secretary General, UCLG AFRICA