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African Day of Decentralization and Local Development (JADDL): Local Governments at the forefront of the fight against corruption at the local level

August 10th is annually celebrated as the African Union’s African Day of Decentralization and Local Development (JADDL). 2018 has been titled Anti-Corruption Year with the theme: “Combatting corruption: a sustainable path for Africa’s transformation.” This year’s Day of Decentralization and Local Development will focus on: “Fighting corruption at the local level, a sustainable way for the transformation of Africa from its territories.” A theme that comes at a time when local governments have been increasingly shaken by scandals of corruption involving elected officials of the first plan: A situation that has an undeniable impact on the credibility of the continent’s mayors. As the saying goes, “The train that arrives on time does not interest anyone,” we only talk about trains that arrive late.  The celebration of African Decentralization Day is of paramount importance to local authorities and is more than just a date.  It is an opportunity to present what  works. Indeed, there are still exemplary local leaders and territorial civil servants in Africa, who exercise local public service with commitment, self-sacrifice, competence and probity and who manage to create, at territorial  level, an environment based on trust, political, economic and social, the results of which, can make an effective contribution to the transformation of the continent.

Corruption, defined as the hijacking of a process or an interaction with one or more people for the purpose of obtaining special benefits or prerogatives in exchange for complacency, affects all spheres of governance (international, regional and local). Its spread on the continent cannot leave local governments indifferent. According to the 2017 Report  on  the Transparency International Index of Perceptions of Corruption, corruption continues to flourish in Africa. It shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is the least successful region with an average score of 32.

For local governments, the consequences are harmful and responsible for the delivery of poor social services to citizens (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.). The “shortfall” created by corruption is a serious obstacle to the achievement of Agenda 2063 (The Africa We Want) and the Agenda 2030 (the 17 Sustainable Development Goals), whose implementation (SDGs) depends upon up to 65% at the local level. The Africa we want is a continent where children can study under the right conditions, where there is decent sanitation, health facilities, etc. In South Africa in the beginning of August,  little Ziyanda Nkosi, a 6-year-old girl, saw the floor of her school’s bathroom collapsing under her feet. she was almost  drown in the pool of excrement. This situation generate  protestation of Hundreds of parents, enraged that their warnings about the dilapidated school had been ignored for years. They protested a couple of days later, upending their quiet rural town for two weeks last August. In Cameroon, in the municipality of Bangangté, some primary schools have been recipients of ecological latrine project launched in 2013 by the city council headed by Mrs. Celestine Ketcha Courtès, President of the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA).REFELA is the permanent gender commission of UCLG Africa.  In addition of the preservation of the environment and health, the ecological latrines are involved in the direct production of organic compost (for agriculture). This is very beneficial for  farmers who do not always have easy access to chemical or imported fertilizers.


As key stakeholders and the closest to the people, the local authorities in Africa are obliged to take the problem of fight against corruption. As the umbrella organization of the local and regional governments of the continent, United Cities and Local Government of Africa (UCLG Africa) is convinced that the resolution of this problem must start from the grassroots. It is no longer desirable to see people being forced to bribe third parties in order to gain access to the quick signing of administrative documents or access to municipal stamps. This type of scenario, which is present and visible at the lowest level of the administration, has tarnished the image of local authorities and broken the trust between the people and their elected officials. “It is (about) restoring respect and trust between local elected officials and the people. Corruption destroys the significance of youth efforts. This issue must be eradicated, firstly, at the local level,” Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa at the United Nations Forum on Public Service (June 21-23, 2018, Marrakesh, Morocco).

To maintain a relationship of trust with the population, some municipalites have focused on the implementation of the participatory budget. This is the case of the municipality of Pelengana, located in the Ségou region of Mali. The commune has practised inclusive management via the participatory budget since 2014. The municipality, led by Mrs. Diabate Mamou Bamba, was awarded at the first edition of the Transparency Contest of the Local Governance Program (PGLR) in May 2018. The municipality had to demonstrate financial and budgetary management followed an assessment of their financial management from the previous three years. I “The members of the jury found that the municipality was making public restitution. There were minutes of meetings and minutes of public renditions. When preparing the budget, the population was involved. They saw that nothing was done in the commune without the population. They saw an involvement of the various actors, elected, village chief and population in the life of the community,”says Ms. Diabaté.

In Gabon, the capital Libreville also advocates transparency as a means to maintain trust with the population. As such, the Mayor’s team,  Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, launched its new website in July by making  the municipal budget for fiscal years 2014 to 2017 available online, and also the main information about the administraive procedure and cost of each service.

For its part, UCLG Africa has launched the project “Transparency and integrity at the local level.” The project focuses on a never-ending quest for the improved performance of local authorities in relation to accountability and transparency. The pilot phase started in June 2017, with the Kabarole local government of Uganda. This approach aims to create an “index on transparency and integrity of local and regional governments,” to be presented and launched at the Africities 8 Summit. Ms. Chantal Uwimana, former Director of Transparency International Africa and Consultant of UCLG Africa, presented the project in video.  She hightlighted the 4 pillars of the fight against corruption which are: transparency, participation, accountability  and integrity. For Ms. Uwimana, the most important pillar is transparency. “Without transparency the other pillars cannot be achieved. Local authorities must make their information available on their website.”

Ratification of the charter: a compelling necessity

Legal instruments do exist that support local authorities in the fight against corruption. At the African level, there is the African Union Framework Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. The African Charter on the Values ​​and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development, adopted by the Conference of African Union Heads of State, in June 2014, also contains a series of fundamental values, including integrity, transparency and accountability. Under its Article 14, the Charter commits central and local governments to set up mechanisms to combat corruption in all its forms (paragraph 3).

UCLG Africa has seized the opportunity, offered by the celebration of JADDL, to continue its advocacy for the ratification of this charter by the Member States of the African Union. Since its adoption, 13 countries have signed, but only 3 have ratified it (Madagascar, Namibia and Burundi). A total of 15 ratifications are needed to enable the charter to become a legal instrument of the African Union, however,  the fact that the ratification process is different from one country to another has impacted on the achievement of this goal. Some countries require the decision of parliament, others of the national assembly, or the president of the republic, or the head of the government or minister of foreign affairs. Once signed, the instruments of ratification are then deposited to the African Union by the country’s ambassador to the AU.

Since 2015, UCLG Africa has engaged with its members for the advocacy and mobilization for the ratification of the charter.  This was a key item on the agenda of the regional meetings in the five regions (Central, West, East, Southern and Northern Africa), and the regional strategic meetings (East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa), which took place in April 2018. From Libreville to Monrovia, Abidjan to Accra, as well as Freetown and Bamako, the mayors of the continent have committed themselves to be the champions for the ratification of this charter. Please view their interviews in which they also discuss the state of decentralization in their countries.

UCLG Africa also works closely with the Specialized Technical Committee No. 8 of the African Union on Public Service, Local Governments, Urban Development and Decentralization (STC No. 8) to advocate for the ratification of this charter. Her Excellency, Ms. Jeanne D’Arc Kagayo, Former Minister of Municipal Development of Burundi and current Minister of Good Governance, invited other countries to follow her example and gave an appointment to her peers to celebrate the progress achieved during the Africities 8 Summit  organized by UCLG Africa, November 20-24, 2018 in Marrakesh (Morocco). Please view her video message below (in french).


“This charter is essential because its adoption provides a reference document for all countries that want to deepen or embark on decentralization policies. This charter is also essential for sharing responsibilities between the national and local levels of governance,” Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.

– Discover the UCLG Africa campaign for the ratification of the charter on our social média (twiter, facebook) .

– Read the Déclaration of the side event of STC No. 8 and UCLG Africa on: “Transparency, Integrity and the Fight Against Corruption: A key requirement for achieving sustainable development.”


For further information, please contact:

Gaelle Yomi 

Tel : +212 610 56 71 45


E-mail : gyomi@uclga.org

Celebration of the African Day of Decentralization by the Kingdom of Morocco and UCLG Africa

The conference, “Fighting corruption at the local level, a sustainable way to transform Africa from its territories”, will take place on Friday August 10, 2018,  9:30 to 13:00, at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Culture and Communication of the Kingdom of Morocco (BAHNINI HALL).  Organizers working in partnership are The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco; the Pan African organization, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa); the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM); and the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC).

The conference will be part of the celebrations for the African Union’s African Day of Decentralization and Local Development (JADDL), a day declared by the AU under Article 20 of the African Charter on the Values ​​and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development, as adopted at the Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, held June 26 -27, 2014 in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea).

Reducing corruption is a priority for the African Union, with 2018 dedicated to the fight against this scourge under the theme: “Fighting corruption at the local level, a sustainable way to transform Africa from its territories“, divided into two sub-themes respectively:

–              Corruption and conflict of interest in the management of local authorities: an impediment to the basic services to local populations, social justice and peace to local populations;

–              Good local governance and promotion of the role of civil society and the media: guarantees for success in curbing corruption in these areas.

The conference will address the issue, with the aim to promote and celebrate the values ​​and principles of the African Charter of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development through:

  • The review of the African Charter on the Values ​​and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development;
  • The sensitization of local elected officials, women local elected officials and territorial managers on the impact and harmful effects of corruption and conflicts of interest in the management of local affairs, citizens, social justice and peace, and consequently, on sustainable development;
  • Raising awareness on the role of civil society and the media as key stakeholders in the fight against corruption at the territorial level.

According to the 2017 Transparency International Index of Perceptions of Corruption, corruption continues to flourish in Africa with Sub-Saharan Africa as the worst-performing region, with an average score of 32.  This impacts on local governments, charged with the responsibility of delivering basic public services to their constituents. The “shortfall” generated by corruption is a serious obstacle to the achievement of Agenda 2063 (The Africa We Want) and Agenda 2030 (the 17 Sustainable Development Goals), with 65% of their successful implementation dependent on local level activites. Most notably, SDG 16, aims to curb corruption and bribery in all its forms (Target 16.5) and to set up efficient, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels (Target 16.6 ). To achieve this, the fight must begin at the local level.

The conference will aim to bring concrete proposals based on the recommendations made by the participants in the 2018 United Nations Forum on Public Service during the Side Event organized by the Specialized Technical Committee No. 8 of the African Union on Public Service, Local Governments, Urban Development and Decentralization, UCLG Africa and its African Local Government Academy (ALGA) on “Transparency, integrity and the fight against corruption : A key requirement for the achievement of Sustainable Development.”

The official opening of the Conference will be led by Representatives from:

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs;
  • The Ministry of Culture and Communication;
  • The Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM);
  • The Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC) ;
  • The Secretary General of UCLG-Africa, Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi.

Nearly 300 stakeholders in local governance in Morocco are expected to attend the conference, the first of its kind since the return of the Kingdom of Morocco to the African Union family.

The national and international press (based in Morocco) is invited to cover the opening ceremony on Friday August 10, 2018 at 9:30am at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Culture and Communication of the Kingdom of Morocco (BAHNINI HALL), No. ° 1, Ghandi Street, Rabat.

Concept Note of the Conference

Declaration of the Side Event of the STC No. 8 and UCLG Africa on: “Transparency, integrity and the fight against corruption: A key requirement for the achievement of sustainable development”.

For further information, please contact :

Gaëlle Yomi:  Tel: + 212 610 56 71 45

Email:  gyomi@uclga.org

The African Charter on Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development Workshop

UCLG Africa Secretary General attended the African Charter on Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development workshop in Addis Ababa, on 12 and 13 May 2015. The workshop was financially supported by the UCLG Africa.

The meeting was attended by representatives of AU-STC 8 subcommittee experts on decentralization, the African Governance Institute (AGI), Transparency International (TI), UNDP, UN Habitat, and Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (DPA). The meeting was facilitated by Mr. Patrick Karanja, AU-STC 8 expert from Kenya.

In his opening remarks, Mr. John Ikabuje Gibodi from the Department of Political Affairs at the African Union informed that only 2 countries have signed the Charter adopted in June 2014 (Mauritania and Guinea Bissau) and no single ratification was registered so far.

Ms. Chantal Uwimana, from Transparency International reported on the way TI managed the advocacy process for the ratification of African Union convention on the fight against corruption. Firstly, TI participated fully in the drafting and negotiation of the convention, which gave it a strong legitimacy for its involvement in the ratification process.

Being an interested party to the process, TI mobilized mainly its own network to popularize the convention across the continent. Different chapters of TI were designated in the different regions to be the champions for the advocacy for the ratification process. Compelling messages were crafted to show the benefits for the countries to ratify the convention. TI also managed to conclude partnerships with the African Union, the African Development Bank, and the Pan African Parliament.

The process of ratification was also explained through a series of regional and national workshops. A booklet was written by a renowned lawyer, Mr. Akere Muna, who had the needed credibility across the continent, to serve as a dissemination and advocacy tool for the convention. Then specific letters were written to specific line Ministers included in the process of ratification and depositing of the legal instruments. Each time a country ratified the convention congratulations letters were sent with a reminder for the instruments to be deposit.

A strong media campaign was also launched to keep the convention alive in the media. The strategy followed was to systematically mention the convention in all TI communications and events. A guide was also produced to help civil society and parliamentarians to advocate for the ratification of the convention and implementation of its provisions. The guide highlighted the added value of the convention. TI felt important to build partnerships with Youth Organizations as well as Women Organizations. TI also endeavored to scrutinize the link between already existing ratified instruments and the ratification process of the convention.

TI also established a link with African Ambassadors to keep them abreast about the ratification process and send letters of congratulations to those who ratified. Thanks to the implementation of the action plan, the convention against corruption entered into force within 3 years being adopted in 2003 and ratified in 2006.

Sandra Machara from UNDP presented considerations for an affective advocacy strategy. She pointed that 2015 is a critical year for the international community being the year for the definition of the International Development Agendas for the coming 20 years, which are being defined during UN conferences on: the Finance for Development (July 2015, Addis Ababa); the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (September 2015, New York); the Conference of the Parties meeting (December 2015, Paris).

The ratification process of the African Charter on values and principles of decentralization and local governance should be defined in this particular context. There is need for a strong and compelling message on decentralization to remove the fears some of the countries might have to ratify the Charter. Best Practices could be used to unlock the resistances observed. The African Decentralization Day on 10 August could also be used as a rallying point for the ratification process. Finally an action plan and timeline should be defined in order that progress is monitored on the implementation of the ratification process.

John Ikubaje said the AU has 49 instruments, only few has a universal ratification. The UA instruments need a minimum of 15 ratifications to enter into force. 23 countries have ratified the charter on democracy and Governance. 9 ratifications have been registered so far for the Charter on public service; 35 Countries has ratified the convention against corruption which is now an AU legal instrument. He noticed also that although not having ratified some instruments, some Countries are neverthelesd implementing their provisions. There seems to be little awareness on the instruments; many question are still raised on the added values of the AU instruments. In many Countries ratification processes are cumbersome. Also these processes differ from country to country. Most of the time due consultation with line Ministers is not done.

The political economy of the ratification should also be done. For example there are more African countries who signed the UN convention against corruption than the ones who signed the African one. After the adoption of an instrument, normally the PRC members should communicate the adopted documents to member states. A note verbal was written and sent on July 2014 to the ministers of foreign affairs to encourage them to start the ratification process. The African Union of the Legal Council also call on members for the ratification process. In principle, there will be a meeting. Not all African members are State parties to ratification, so only State parties can report according to the follow up mechanism to see the level of implementation. Only when an instrument is ratified can the AUC report on the implementation of the instrument.

Challenges: translation in African languages, critical role of civil society, foreign affairs, line ministers, and parliamentarians should be party to the ratification process. Dr. Dia said that in the last 5 years, there is a retraction in African Union budgets. 2.5 million dollars were allocated got popularizing the charter on democracy adopted in 2007, signed 2/3 later. We need at least 20 years and some 15 ratifications within 1 year. We need to popularize the charter across the continent. Rose ask why Guinea Bissau and Mauritania, no extra effort from AU for this signing. The big difficulty in AU is the PRC. The scrutiny of PRC is nearly paralysing the African Union. Rose asked also how much the advocacy effort cost? IT received 150.000 USD for meetings.

On the political economy there is need to build on African Pride. The Gender is my Agenda Campaign can set an example. The workshop pursued its proceedings on 13 May within two parallels groups:

Group 1: Strategy and Stakeholder Mapping jpem Sandra Chantal john Patrick Group 2: Finance Mobilization. Rose, Maurice, Strategic Group 1. Identifying 15 countries 2. Advocacy strategy: internet, media, meetings 3. Implementation plan and timeline.

The group proposed a list of 19 countries categorized as follows:

Category 1: the 2 countries that signed already Guinea Bissau, Mauritania Category 2: Bureau members of AMCOD subcommittee: Benin, Mozambique, Cameroon, Burundi, Algeria Category 3: Senegal, Kenya, Angola, South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania, Namibia, Burkina, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda

The approach is to follow up on the formal communication (note verbal) sent by DPA through Ministries of Foreign Affairs to have a focal point for STC 8; and the letter sent by the subcommittee from former AMCOD to the directors of local governments that have been working on the charter to organize the follow up. The subcommittee to present the list of directors of local governments to be focal points for the UCLG-A to provide the names and contacts of the President and Permanent Secretary of the national association.

“Coalition of the willing” Target 15 countries. The approach is to get a buy-in of local Authorities and their national associations putting pressure in national governments and parliament to get the charter ratified. It is also necessary to have a mass communication sensitization campaign before and after the ratification. It is proposed to organize popularization Platforms, ask focal points to work with local Authorities to seek support to have the charter ratified; it is also important to engage with line ministers, and the diaspora.

Timeline for the implementation plan 1. Information needs and focal points (by end of May through Rachel) 2. Knowledge on the national ratification process (by end of May through Rachel and Patrick) 3. Regional Workshops (Parrick East Africa; West Africa Maurice; Central, Abraham Okoko, Southern Africa Kitswell; North Africa Abdi Horma) Chantal to prepare PPT presentation for the Charter and ratification process 4. CLGF meeting on 16-18 June in Gaborone. Invitation to the Commissioner for Political Affairs 5.

Use the decentralization day on 10 August with as theme the ratification of the charter. Rachel to present the theme of the Subcommittee and Patrick to inform about the venue for the celebration of the Decentralization day.

6. Local Authorities Forum on the New Africa Urban Agenda (3 days beginning of September) 7. Africities: open session on ratification of the charter; open session on new urban agenda. 8. Media: Chantal to provide a database on media mobilization. A mapping shows that the following media could be targeted: Africa 24 (cost: € 30,000) SABC APO (cost: around € 20,000) Group 2 on Resource Mobilization Potential Partners AUC Special member states : Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria, Senegal, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Algeria…to support the work on decentralization and local Governance, including human resources for the AUC/DPA secretariat.

UCLG-A private sector: water, telecom, engineering, banking, power, housing, finance, …

Philantropic foundations (Dangote, Mo Ibrahim, Tony Elumelu) -CSOs

Bilateral partners : DFID, GIZ, SIDA

International Foundations: Gate, Rockefeller, Ford

Multilateral partners: UNDP, UN Habitat, EU, China, RECs, World Bank, BRICS, …

Outsreach roundtable meetings high level panel side events

Costing Following the implementation plan

Resource Mobilization implementation

Need for initial seed money from AU-DPA (USD 31,000)AU; UCLG Africa (?)

Need for a lobbying pack (1 pager note with a compelling narrative on decentralization and related resource mobilization with a powerpoint presentation) Support modalities flexible mechanisms for channeling the money: DPA, UCLG-A, UNDP, UN Habitat all forms of contribution AUC-DPA oversight, coordination between STC 8 subcommittee, quality assurance and periodic reporting.

After the reception of the Group meetings reports, a roadmap was defined which final version will be disseminated to the participants within a week time.