African forum advocates LG autonomy

The regional strategic meeting of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) for the Eastern Africa Region took place at Intercontinental Hotel (Nairobi, Kenya) with a call on African governments to support local government autonomy.

The meeting organized in collaboration with the Council of Governors (COG) of Kenya was attended by 10 countries representing 14 national associations of local government including Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar, Comoros, Uganda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

They were represented by the presidents of the national associations of local governments, leaders of the Network of Locally Elected Women (REFELA) and their permanent secretaries.

Proceedings were opened by Amb Tuneya Hussein Dado, Cheif Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and ASALS in the presence of Hounourable, Governor Josphat Nanok Koli,Chairperson Council of Governors (CoG), Mr. David Andre, Mayor of Victoria Seychelles, UCLG Africa Vice President, Eastern Africa Region and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.

In his remarks, Amb Tuneya Hussein Dado reiterated the importance of strengthening local governments and the key role played by UCLG Africa in uniting local governments across Africa.

On behalf of the Council of Governors of Kenya (CoG), Honorable Josphat Nanok Koli, welcomed the delegates and wished everyone a nice stay in Nairobi.

He expressed his happiness to host the first of the five UCLG Africa regional strategic meetings that will take place in the five regions of Africa (North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Africa, and Southern Africa).

He also mentioned the commitment of the CoG to be part of UCLG Africa and its cooperation and decentralisation agenda.

Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, UCLG Africa Secretary General in his remarks, reminded participants of the importance of UCLG Africa regional strategic meetings.

“They are key in the life of UCLG Africa. It is therefore critical that members take full advantage of their gathering here to share knowledge on the situation of decentralization and sub national and local governments in their respective countries.

They are  to make inputs in reflecting on how to improve this situation for greater involvement of sub-national and local governments in the definition and implementation of the development and integration policies and strategies set forth by Agenda 2063 of the African Union” , Mbassi said.

“The regional strategic meetings also provides a moment for members to reflect on what is happening at both the continental and global levels, particularly on how it impacts on sub-national and local governments mandates and actions”, he added.

During the first day of the meeting two sessions were held to address UCLG Africa Network in the Region. Through this topic, participants shared their experiences on the state of decentralisation in their countries and the key challenges it faces.

They also received information on decentralized cooperation partnerships, and on UCLG Africa Pan Africa Peer Review. Candidates to host a Peer Review mission and to be part of Peer Review teams were registered.

The second session addressed the functioning of UCLG Africa networks and how these networks can contribute in enhancing the delivery capacity of sub national and local governments.

As a reminder, UCLG Africa networks 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); and the network of City Chief Technical Officers (Africa TECHNET).

This session also focussed on the role of local and regional governments in implementing African and Global Agend as such as the African Charter on Values & Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance & Local Development.

Others include the setting up of the High Council of Local Authorities as a consultative body of the African Union; the role of sub-national and local governments of Africa in the implementation of Agenda 2063 of the African Union, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Climate Change Agenda.

UCLG Africa members in the East Africa Region are being invited to advocate for the ratification by their country of the African Charter on Values & Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance & Local Development.

Since its adoption, in Malabo in 2014, the charter has been signed by 12 countries and ratified by only 3 countries, 2 of which are in the East Africa region (Madagascar and Burundi). The Charter will become a legal instrument of the African Union when signed and ratified by 15 countries, and deposited at the Africa Union Commission.

During the presentation on the role of African local governments in the implementation of SDGs, participants were given an example on the role played by local authority in Nigeria. The UCLG, the world body organisation of Local authorities have also developed a toolkit that was shared with members.

On the Climate Agenda, National Associations of Local Governments were encouraged to join the global covenant of mayors for climate and energy where the Africa chapter is hosted by UCLG Africa in its West Africa Regional Office (WARO).

The UCLG Africa Climate Task Force was launched during COP23 to assist African subnational and local governments prepare funding requests eligible to the green climate fund.

Members were informed about the local government transparency and integration aiming at providing voluntary members a tool to address the daunting issue of corruption in the subnational and local governments’ administrations.

The participants were also informed about the role they are expected to play in the implementation of European Union cooperation agenda. In 2013 the EU adopted a Communication that recognizes for the first time local authorities as public authorities in their own right.

Following this recognition the European Union concluded a framework partnership agreement with international and continental associations of local governments, among which are UCLG Africa.

Participants were also informed that according to the provisions of the 2013 EU Communication on local authorities national associations having a monopoly situation in their country can access EU cooperation funds allocated to local governments without going through a call for proposal, provided they present to and discuss with the EU delegation an implementation program agreed upon by the members of the said national association.

The participants were further informed about the beginning of the negotiations of the Post Cotonou Agreement that will frame the cooperation relations between Africa Union and European Union for the coming 20 years.

Attention was called on UCLG Africa members to advocate and lobby their national governments to have them include local governments as key partners at the different steps.

This is from the negotiations stage to the definition and implementation stages, which implies that the territorial and local level should be recognized as the critical level for the implementation and impact assessment of the impact of EU cooperation programs.

Engagement with the EU delegations was also recommended to follow up on the implementation of the 2013 Communication and on the post Cotonou Agreement negotiations that will start soon (presumably in September 2018).

The 8th Edition of the Africities Summit was announced and will be hosted in Marrakesh, Morocco, between November 20th – 24th 2018. The Members were invited to attend in numbers.

They were also reminded that they are expected to participate in the General Assembly of UCLG Africa and the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) that will be held during the Summit in Marrakesh.

The Members were as well reminded of the rules and procedures of the Elected General Assembly which will be held on the 23rd November during the Africities Summit. The official launch of the 8th Edition of the Africities Summit will take place in Rabat, Morocco on May 15th 2018.

The CEO of the Council of Governor also expressed an interest in hosting the next Africities Summit in 2021 and requested the support of the UCLG Africa members from the East Africa Region.

The regional strategy meeting held in Nairobi will be followed by the regional strategic meeting for the Central Africa Region, in Libreville (Gabon), on 16 – 17 April 2018; for the Southern Africa Region in Walvis-Bay (Namibia), on 7 – 8 May 2018; for the West Africa Region in Accra (Ghana), on 28 – 29 May 2018, for the North Africa Region in Rabat (Morocco), on 18 -19 June 2018.

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