FAMI 7-2023: African Local Governments Set Out Proposals for the Successful Achievement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, -May God Assist Him-, the 7th edition of the African Forum of Territorial Managers and Training Institutes targeting Local Governments (FAMI 7_2023) was held from Monday November 20 to Sunday November 26, 2023 in El Jadida (Kingdom of Morocco), at the National School of Trade and Management (ENCG) of the Chouaib Doukkali University.

More than 200 participants from 33 countries, including 28 African countries, took part in this meeting organized by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), through its African Local Governments Academy (ALGA), in partnership and with the support of the General Directorate of Local Authorities (DGCT) of the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior, Chouaib Doukkali University (ENCG), OCP Group-Act4Community, Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion (CDG), as well as the Network of Partners of UCLG Africa and its Academy.

With the theme: “The contribution of Local and Regional Governments to the achievement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)”, within the framework of the United Nations Decade of Action and the Year 2023 decreed by the African Union as the AfCFTA Year, FAMI 7 featured speeches by eminent personalities during the opening and closing ceremonies.  These included:

  • Honorable Az-eddine AZIM, President of Chouaib Doukkali University, Morocco,
  • Honorable Fatimetou MINT ABDEL MALICK, President of UCLG Africa, President of the UCLG Standing Committee for Gender Equality and President of the Nouakchott Region, Mauritania,
  • E. Mrs. Nardos BEKELE-THOMAS, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD),
  • Juwang ZHU, Director of the Division of Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), New York,
  • Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa,
  • Mohamed ZAHIDI, President of the Provincial Council of El Jadida, Morocco,
  • Mohamed SAHABI, Vice-President of the Chouaib Doukkali University.

The President of UCLG Africa, Mrs. Fatimetou MINT ABDEL MALICK, recalled that “all development is first and foremost local. The AfCFTA’s impetus comes from the decisions of entrepreneurs based in the territorial level. In other words, there will be no AfCFTA if the local authorities don’t play a major role in setting it up. The aim is to unleash the economic potential of the territories to accelerate policies and strategies for the economic and social integration of the African continent. Without adequate infrastructure, high-quality human resources, and a conducive institutional and fiscal framework, the potential represented by the AfCFTA is unlikely to be the opportunity we have described. And it is at territorial level that these challenges must first be met.”

For her part, AUDA-NEPAD’s Chief Executive Officer, Her Excellency Mrs. Nardos BEKELE Thomas, invited Local Governments to surpass themselves, underlining: “As we look to the future, Local Governments will have to transcend their traditional bureaucratic functions and become the initiators, catalysts and drivers of transformation processes. Nevertheless, we are well aware that the challenges facing local governments limit their ability to exercise their transformative functions. Whether it’s infrastructure constraints, social inequalities or governance challenges, our cities are struggling to absorb immigration in a sustainable way. Meeting these challenges and building cities that grow economically and thrive as equitable, healthy and vibrant communities, is a shared responsibility, a collective effort.”

Mr. Az-eddine AZIM, President of the Chouaib Doukkali University, said: “We are very honored that this event is taking place under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI -May God Assist Him-. This demonstrates His Majesty’s interest in territorial development and South-South cooperation for a prosperous future of the African continent. This vision demonstrates His determination to make the Atlantic coast, from Tangier to Lagouira, a place of togetherness, a pole of economic integration and a center of continental and international influence.”

For his part, Mr. Juwang Zhu, Director of UN-DESA’s Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government (DPIDG), emphasized the need to build capacity at all levels in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Over 6 days, participants at FAMI 7 took part in and contributed to the various segments of the Forum, namely:

  • Two (2) Plenary Sessions led by KeyNote Speakers focused on the progress made to date in implementing the AfCFTA, and the challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome, drawing inspiration from existing models such as European integration, while giving African Local Government leaders the opportunity to express their expectations of this ambitious and promising African initiative;
  • Three (3) Parallel Workshops on the contribution of the AfCFTA to Effective Governance, Digital Transformation and Sustainable Development;
  • Seven (7) Training, Capacity Building and Peer Learning Seminars, as part of the Human Capital Empowerment Days, focusing on :
  • Urban planning: tools and best practices, in partnership with UCLG’s Learning Department – World Secretariat (Barcelona);
  • Gender-sensitive Participatory Budgeting, in partnership with ENDA-Ecopop, the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy (IOPD), Senegal;
  • Setting up projects and fundraising, led by the Hon. Mr Mohamed H’MIDOUCHE, former AfDB International Banker and Senior Consultant, Morocco;
  • Promoting Female Leadership, in partnership with the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), LMS-RH Cabinet and experts from Cameroon, the USA and Morocco;
  • How to integrate young people into Local Governance, led by Experts from Libya and Morocco;
  • Climate Finance: opportunities and access modalities, access to sustainable energy and the circular economy, led by Experts from Nigeria and Benin;
  • The irresistible internationalization of cities and territories: constraints and opportunities, in partnership with CIEDEL and PROFADEL.
  • The Regional Workshop on the Revision of Standards of Excellence in Education and Training for Administration, in partnership with UN-DESA/DPIDG and the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA), chaired by the Director of ALGA of UCLG Africa.
  • A meeting organized by UCLG Africa’ ALGA Academy to present its vision, methodology and catalog to the heads of training establishments at Chouaib Doukkali University.
  • A field visit to the Jorf Lasfar Complex of OCP Group, where participants discovered the vision, strategy, structuring projects, partnerships and commitment of this flagship of the Moroccan economy in Africa.
  • Three (3) cultural visits to the Ryad Caid Si Boubker, the Portuguese Cistern of El Jadida, and the City of Azemmour, where participants discovered some of the cultural heritage of the Province of El Jadida.

Politicians and local officials, including those from UCLG Africa’s Leadership, took an active part in the Forum’s proceedings. These included:

  • Honorable David ALABI KOLADE, President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Member of the Executive Committee of UCLG Africa, Chairman of Shomolu-Bariga City Council, Lagos State,
  • Honorable NYIRAMASENGESHO Jeannette, President of the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA),
  • Honorable Rohey Malick LOWE, President of the UCLG Africa Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), Mayor of Banjul, Gambia,
  • Honorable Moussaid HAJJAJ, 2nd Vice-President of the Communal Council of Benguerir, Morocco.

A distinctive feature of this year’s event was the effective participation, within the same setting, of local officials, territorial managers, academics and young students.

In all, 16 key messages emerged from the exchanges and were incorporated into the succinct FAMI 7 Final Report presented at the closing ceremony by Dr. Najat ZARROUK, Director of the Development Branch and the African Local Governments Academy (ALGA) of UCLG Africa, Member of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration (UN-CEPA) and President of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA).  The Report emphasized that for the realization and success of the AfCFTA, the following must be considered:

  1. It’s a shared responsibility and a collective effort;
  2. Transform Leadership at all levels of Governance to have Leaders who will make the AfCFTA progress and succeed;
  3. Change mentalities at all levels: individual, institutional and organizational;
  4. Put an end to conflict by investing in peace, security and constructive dialogue in good faith;
  5. The necessary Collaboration between all Actors and Stakeholders in a spirit of “Whole-of-Government” & “Whole-of-Society” approach;
  6. Investing in Digital Transformation to bridge the digital gap at sub-national level;
  7. Identifying high-potential sectors, basins and territories and their comparative advantages.
  8. Developing the capacities of local authorities and increasing decentralization are essential to accelerate and improve the quality of economic growth in Africa;
  9. The need to “strengthen economic governance at local level”;
  10. Accelerate the process of effective transfer of skills and resources to local authorities, making them autonomous and responsible for managing local affairs within their territories;
  11. Emphasize decentralized cooperation, partnership and inter-communality;
  12. Create and/or reinforce infrastructures at territorial level and secure them against the risks of terrorism and fundamentalism;
  13. Federate the umbrella organizations of local authorities;
  14. Create a facilitating, motivating, attractive and catalyzing environment for women and young people;
  15. Enhance, support and motivate the Education, Higher Education and Training Sector, in particular by promoting Standards of Excellence and strengthening resources;
  16. Give the rural areas the same attention, opportunities, facilities and resources as those accorded to cities and urban areas, by investing in the key areas of rural development and sustainable development, namely agriculture, livestock breeding, fishing, the environment, industry, trade and crafts, and above all access to basic public services, such as water, electricity, roads, education and health….

Signing of a Strategic Partnership Agreement

FAMI 7_2023 was the setting for the signing of a partnership agreement between UCLG Africa and the Chouaib Doukkali University of El Jadida. The agreement was signed at the Forum’s closing ceremony by Mr. Az-eddine AZIM, President of the Chouaib Doukkali University, represented by the Vice-President, Mr. Mohamed SAHABI, and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa. Both parties are committed to joining forces to invest in the human capital of African local governments.

Finally, the organizers, pool of experts, trainers, resource persons and Forum participants received certificates of recognition and participation.

At the end of the proceedings, a Message of Loyalty, Gratitude and Thanks to the High Attention of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, was read out by the Secretary General of Chouaib Doukkali University, marking the end of the proceedings of this 7th edition.

Photo albums: Here

Access link to UCLG Africa documents : Here