Members Development

UCLG Africa’s interventions for members’ development are aimed at supporting the decentralized process.  We do this by:

  • Promoting the benefits of decentralization through a series of communication channels including newsletters, campaigns and our own African Cities magazine.
  • Carrying out needs assessments, including understanding local governments capacity to respond to African and Global Development Agendas
  • Developing targeted support packages and encouraging peer learning
  • Organizing, conducting or recommending appropriate interventions, including the piloting of innovative projects, seminars, workshops and training
  • Strengthen the development of UCLG Africa networks starting with the network of locally elected women of Africa (REFELA) and the further development of professional networks Africa MAGNET, Africa FINET, Africa TECHNET

Supporting National Associations

As part of UCLG Africa’s service offer we provide potential members with information that promotes the benefits of decentralization. Building the capacity of active members to become more productive and inclusive, local or subnational governments is the focal point of our service delivery. As part of our support packages for members, UCLG Africa commissions needs assessments to help our regional teams understand the needs around the decentralization agenda and local government policies around local economic development. This information is then used to shape a series of interventions and bespoke services to form an annual package of support for the country, which will lead to local authorities delivering services that improve the socio-economic wellbeing of all citizens at all levels of society.


If the creation of an association is determined as the right strategy, then regional teams will put together a bespoke program of support that will include:

  • Developing a constitution
  • Defining the key elements of a local strategic plan
  • Peer learning visits
  • Convening the first general assembly

In 2017, UCLG Africa’s membership development team and regional offices supported the development of two new National Associations in Ethiopia and Liberia and in the forthcoming year aims to support a further five across each African region.

To become a member, click here

Professional Networks

Following demand by its members, UCLG Africa has developed four major networks starting with the network of Locally Elected Women of Africa, REFELA. Additional networks were created made up of senior staff in African local government administrations, considered to be the closest advisors to the local government’s political leaders: The network of city managers established in 2016 (Africa MAGNET); the network of city chief financial officers established in 2013 (Africa FINET) and the network of city chief technical officers established in 2017 (Africa TECHNET). The structuring of these networks of senior professionals is intended to bring more insight and competence to the voice of local authorities, thus making them a reliable and responsive partner.

Members of these networks will benefit from a variety of methods and tools to boost their professionalism, acquire a people-centered service and results-oriented culture and behaviour, and adopt the culture of benchmarking, policies evaluation and performances comparison in terms of service delivery and local administration management. They will also participate in peer review and peer learning activities and be exposed to best practices and sharing of experiences.

Pan-African Peer Review Facility

The Africa Local Government Peer Review Program was set up by UCLG Africa at the request of African local authorities with the aim of relying on our own network of local governments as a source of expertise that can be tapped into to improve service delivery and the quality of local governance across the continent. It works as a friendly assessment tool that appraises the performance of local governments and their associations in the service of their citizens and members.

The program promotes cooperation, learning and the organizational improvement of local governments and their associations.  Practitioners learn from each other’s experiences and work internationally to strengthen local government. This is achieved through peer reviews and assessment of performance with the aim of strengthening the professional capacity of local elected officials and staff and their social and cultural engagement with citizens.

The performance assessment is mapped against a benchmark of a model council or association of local governments on the following four key dimensions:

Achievements of the organization

  • This dimension focuses on the council’s or association’s intentions and achievements and how it has improved and delivered the outcomes that local people need.

Leadership and Management

  • This dimension looks at the council’s or association’s vision and ambition for itself and for the area; whether the council has focused its resources on identified priorities and the effectiveness of decisions taken towards the realization of its vision and ambition.

Engaging with customers, communities and partners

  • This dimension looks at how the council engages with customers, communities and partners to ensure that services are customer focused and the extent to which the association works with and at the service of its members.

Resource and Performance Management

  • This dimension looks at how the council makes the best use of its resources, including people, money, technology and assets.

This benchmark is based on the conclusions of hundreds of peer reviews conducted by the Local Government Association of England and Wales and on mentoring exercises delivered across the world.

The peer review process highlights and promotes good practices in local democracy and citizen participation in local governance. UCLG Africa’s Peer Review is now a powerful tool for fuelling change in organizations of local governments, since they share similar environments and experience similar challenges. The guiding principle is, “Local governments solving local government problems: Africa solving Africa’s problems.”

The Process


  • Expressions of interest to host a peer review
  • Expressions of interest to participate in a peer review as the review team


  • Selection of local governments based on the four dimensions of the performance benchmark

STEP 3: 

  • Selection and training of the review team –
  • The review team is made up of local practitioners: Mayors or councillors, chief executive officers and technical managers


  • Planning meeting outlining review exercise –
  • Week long peer review exercise in the host institution
  • Feedback session where the review team reflects on sessions and provides recommendations


  • Production of a final report of the peer review highlighting the areas of performance
  • Implemenation of recommendations will be the responsibility of the reviewed organization.
  • Mentoring support is made available on request from the member and support given throughout the implementation process

To date, the program has successfully conducted pilot peer reviews in five local government institutions, three local governments and two national associations. This Pan African Local Government Peer Review Facility has now been established as the main tool we use to improve local governance with our members using peer learning and promoting transparency and responsiveness to the needs of their local communities.

To become a member, click here

Transparency and Integrity

“Fighting Corruption at the closest level to the people”

Promoting good practice for cities and subnational and local governments is a focal point for UCLG Africa’s work in the fight against corruption. Its work on transparency, accountability and integrity is undertaken within the framework of GADDEPA and builds on the Africa Union’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which was ratified in 2006. Anti-corruption featured widely during the Africities Summit in Johannesburg and discussions with Transparency International led to a partnership agreement aimed at promoting the implementation of joint projects on transparency and integrity targeting subnational levels of governance in Africa.

As the leading international organization for the fight against corruption, Transparency International produce an annual “Corruption Perceptions Index”, which clearly shows that no country in the world comes anywhere close to a perfect score.  Unfortunately, Africa as a region represents one of the most corrupt regions. Botswana, Cape Verde and Rwanda are the only countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are ranked within the top 50 with a further 21 Sub-Saharan African countries ranked in the bottom 50.

A pilot project, known as Leaders in Local Government for Transparency and Integrity in Service Delivery in Africa, was created in partnership with Transparency international with the aim of strengthening local government transparency and integrity to combat corruption in service delivery. The joint initiative was launched on April 4 in Nairobi, Kenya with two subnational governments, Walvis Bay Municipal Council and Kabarole District in Uganda, participating in this initial phase.

The objectives of the Pilot Phase are to:

  • Develop tools for the assessment of transparency and integrity in subnational governance institutions incorporating:
  • The development of a research Instrument for Local Integrity System (LIS) based on a Barometer and Bribery Index, municipal transparency index and accountability
  • The development of policies and by-laws that enable citizens to benchmark service delivery satisfaction standards as defined in the context of each participating local government
  • Capacity development strategies to equip subnational governments/local authorities and their citizens to implement the transparency and integrity system in their organization, including Ethics and Integrity training, policies and legislative drafting, peer review and exchange and learning visits
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, Reviewing and Learning for continuous organizational improvement, including an Impact Matrix
  • Implement a comprehensive local integrity system informed by activities derived from the above in the three subnational governance institutions; and
  • Develop an instrument for assessing the contribution of the political leadership of subnational governments for the building and maintenance of transparency and integrity that enables comparison and objective selection of ‘Leaders of Excellence in Transparency and Integrity in Local Governance’ (or subnational governance). The assessment will lead to the Award of Excellence in Transparency and Integrity in Local

To become a member, click here

Know Your City

According to the 2010 UN-Habitat forecast, more than half of the African population will live in urban areas by 2025, with an urban population growing almost twice as fast as the general population over the next quarter century. In the year 2025, the majority of the poor in Africa will be living in urban areas.

Currently, a large and growing number of urban dwellers live in poor and unplanned neighbourhoods. With incomplete or out-dated information about slums and informal settlements, local governments often design policies that ignore or unsatisfactorily address the social and economic deficits that residents experience in slum neighbourhoods. This leads to increased mistrust between communities and local authorities and exacerbates the extent of these needs.

Based on current trends, 75% of Africans will be living in slums by 2025. Unless something is done to close this gap, African cities risk becoming troubled regions, a situation that could put decentralization and democracy at risk.

In direct response to these projections and the already existing deficits and inequalities of urban development in African cities, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), as members of Cities Alliance (CA), entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and implemented the Know Your City Program in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Lusaka, Zambia with the aim to catalyse urban transformation processes that promote more inclusive cities through partnerships between local governments and slum dweller communities.


The objective of the program is the adoption of inclusive approaches to urban development and management, where urban poor communities interact with the local government politicians and officers in the inception, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of city planning interventions.

The objectives of the Know Your City project are as follows:

To place emphasis on new approaches in alleviating poverty  through the increasing  of actions that aim to improve housing.

Involve the participants in a dialogue that aims to improve rehabilitation approaches in slums.  Reduce poverty in fast growing African cities

1.Show the importance of equal partnerships between local collectives and the community living in slums which are organized through women’s saving schemes. Elaborate and put in place successful initiatives of living conditions in slums.

Identify and succeed in involving local collectives in the upcoming initiatives of the program. Involve the latter in accompanying investments that aim at improving the community base.

The Know Your City Program has generated significant interest among African local governments.  The Slum Dwellers International (SDI) and the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) are once again partnering and moving forward with a new campaign in collaboration with the African Union of Architects and will launch a new Know Your City campaign. This will include the implementation of the young professional assistance program targeting medium size and small cities. The objective is to support five cities as a pilot (1 per region). UCLG Africa will prepare a position paper on intermediary cities and priority issues to be addressed moving forward.

To become a member, click here


In a holistic approach based on the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development  Goals signed in 2015 by 193 countries, and its 17 objectives (SDGs), UCLG Africa wishes to propose to its members and their regional, national and international partners a programme entitled: African Capitals of Culture

The African Capitals of Culture are positioning themselves as a strategic tool for African local and regional governments, to support cities and their rurality in responding to the challenges posed by the six areas of transition set out at the 8th Africities Summit (Marrakech 2018) organized by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa. The African Capitals of Culture also reflect the sustainable development goals recounted by the international summits of the African Union and the United Nations.

The establishment of African Capitals of Culture aims to

  • The structuring, empowerment and networking of the cultural and creative actors of the African continent;
  • The development of public and private ecosystems that will make them culturally independent, and economically autonomous, sustainable and viable.

The ambition of the African Capitals of Culture is to affirm and promote the continent’s cultural identity and the cultural reappropriation of Africans by and for themselves.

Africa is the cradle of humanity. Its unparalleled cultural depth has faded; it is time to revive it and regain pride in it.

Africa is the key to the future. In all areas of transition, it faces issues crucial to the future of humanity and the future shape of its civilizations. These problems are of an unprecedented complexity, and that is why Africa cannot borrow its solutions from anyone.

Celebrating African culture through a network of capitals means encouraging and organizing these solutions, based on a youth with a unique vitality, and on the singular urban cultures it gives rise to.

It means restoring to Africans the awareness and control of their creative power and their community of destiny. Cities, with the fabric of the regional areas they create, are the level of action that makes it possible to articulate a proximity policy and a global affirmation strategy.

Every three years, the Organizing Committee of African Capitals of Culture will highlight, through a particular city, the creativity of the continent – and not just of the city declared Capital.

An African Capital of Culture city celebrates Africa, and Africa celebrates it. The event is therefore not reserved for the chosen city, but opens up to pan-African programming and the visibility of creative initiatives from other cities on the continent.

All African cities,  local and regional governments can therefore be partners.

Partners, every three years, of an African Capital of Culture city by supporting artists and creators from their territory.

Partners also in multi-year development programmes, which network the continent’s talents and cities.

Because, in the interval between two African Capitals of Culture, the Organising Committee is supporting the development of nine programmatic axes.

The Committee’s action is therefore permanent, based on a public/private model, both in terms of structuring initiatives and financing.


The Organizing Committee of African Capitals of Culture may:

  • Provide cities interested in the African Capital of Culture label with expertise and advice, in order to prepare their future application by first developing the necessary creative fabric;
  • Provide cities, local and regional governments wishing to increase their specific creative potential with targeted advice and connect them, where appropriate, with model operators in the sector concerned;
  • Integrate their operators, administrative and elected officials, into training programs or workshops;
  • Integrate, after examining motivations and projects, artistic and creative initiatives into the multi-year programmes managed by the Organising Committee and, in this case, support their funding;
  • Support the financing of the arrival, during an African Capital of Culture edition, of artists, creators and projects led by African local and regional governments;
  • Include representatives of local and regional authorities in the discussions on cultural and creative policies.

Of course, cultural development is not in vain: it generates many benefits. The African Capitals of Culture are a programme promoted at the international level. The impact in terms of image and visibility is significant. The tourist and economic benefits are just as important.

But participating in the momentum of the African Capitals of Culture also makes it possible to structure its territory, to think strategically about urban development, to involve the populations and to offer them both general – to open up to the wind of the world – and concrete perspectives: to build employment, create, reactivate or develop sectors adapted to the assets of the territory, to connect its active youth to the dynamics of the continent.

Cities, local and regional governments can contribute to the action of the Organising Committee and to the success of a great ambition for Africa:

  • By relaying the institutional and general communication of the Organising Committee
  • By pointing out to them the creative initiatives of their territories
  • By formally becoming a partner of the Organising Committee
  • By providing multi-year financial and/or logistical support for projects in its territory, selected by the Organising Committee, which will provide additional funding
  • By providing financial and/or logistical support for artistic, cultural and creative projects to be presented as part of an African Capital of Culture, with the Organising Committee and its partners providing additional funding where appropriate.
  • By declaring and preparing its application, in liaison with the Organising Committee, to become the next African Capital of Culture.


At the instigation of Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, General Secretary of UCLG Africa, meetings involving passionate experts are taking place from the beginning of 2017.
They lead to the development of a project framework, in the spring of 2018, and to the decision to present a program “African Capitals of Culture” during a session during the Africities 8 summit held in Marrakech.

On November 22, 2018, at the 8th Africities Summit, the Honorary President of the African Capitals of Culture, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the African Capitals of Culture, Adama Traoré and the President of the Marrakech Commune , Mohamed Larbi Belcaid, formalize the birth of the African Capitals of Culture and declare Marakech first African Capital of Culture.

February 22, 2019: The African Capitals of Culture and the Marakech Commune sign the Marrakech 2020 Convention African Capital of Culture. The first edition of the African Capitals of Culture will take place from January 1 to December 31, 2020.


The founding organizing committee for African Capitals of Culture is piloted by a steering committee, a high council and an operational committee

The steering committee validates the general orientations and represents the Organizing Committee to public and private bodies. Chaired by Mr. Adama Traoré, he has appointed Mr. Khalid Tamer as General Manager. It includes personalities recognized for their expertise and capacity for action, as well as representatives of major public organizations, and in particular: Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, as representative of UCLG Africa.

The High Council brings together African personalities recognized for their independence and for their knowledge of the continent’s issues. It is responsible for ensuring respect for the fundamental values ​​that guide the action of the African Capitals of Culture, and to nourish a deep reflection.

The Operational Committee concretely relays the decisions and the vision of the steering committee. It associates with the two preceding instances representatives of the host city of an edition, representatives of the previous edition, and the edition to be followed, as well as the chairman of the committee of sponsors, and major public partners associated with the operations. African Capitals of Culture for funding and monitoring large blocks of programs.
The organizing committee, finally, has the opportunity to tap into a resource pool of consultants, disciplinary specialists, to enrich its thinking and possibly feed the programming of an edition.