Africa is organizing itself from the local level
The first edition of the Africities Trade and Invest Forum (ATIF) took place during the second day of the ninth edition of the Africities Summit. The event held by the AfDB, AFREXIMBANK, AfCFTA, ABSA, UNCDF, and UCLG Africa was chair by Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Tourism of the African Union Commission. ATIF aims to help local government to respond to one of the 5 key functions for the city or territory: providing cities with basic services and amenities. The Africities Trade and Investment Forum (ATIF) brought together leaders of African cities and territories, private and public investors, as well as service providers. For the very first time, a matchmaking permanent platform between African local authorities and investors interested in local Africa was launched. The idea is to explore the business opportunities available in African territories and discuss the investment strategies according to the demographic, economic and financial contexts and to the potential of Africa. From there, partnership contracts leading to the realization of investments within the local and subnational governments of Africa will be launched.
«We need city-friendly vehicles and an eco-system of city-friendly finance experts because cities have unique characteristics. We see the Africa Territorial Agency as a fundamental tool that needs to grow organically and having regional chapters could be the way forward because of the different political and legal systems. We are delighted to work with UCLG Africa on how to incubate this and bring it to life and we hope to have some good news about it in the future», said David Jackson, Director of Local Development Finance Unit at UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
At the end of the session, UCLG Africa and AfDB signed a contract entitled: Municipal CFO Initiative. The contract aims at strengthening fiscal capacity and financial autonomy and municipalities in 2022.
The ninth edition of Africities is the first to be organized since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The health crisis has more than ever demonstrated the importance of digital technology, not only in ensuring the survival of several sectors of the economy but also in accelerating the transformation of territorial public services. This marked a major milestone in the evolution of territories. During that day, participants talked about strategies to develop a digital master plan from and for the territories, especially by considering African specificities.
“Mapping solutions from other parts of the world does not always work. We need local digital solutions created by locals. The first step to ensuring this happens is to raise the digital skills of the populations and to also change their mindset to expect and use technology”, said Nicolas Sadirac, 01Talent Chief Pedagogic Officer and Co-founder.
01Talent Africa is the pan-African talent agency which aims to identify, develop and connect to the professional world 1 million high-level developers globally, by 2035 through the combination of a proven educational, sustainable, and economically exponential model.
Digital day was also the occasion to launch the African Smarts Cities Network.
Culture is the fourth pillar of sustainable development. Culture is vital for cities, for nations and for humanity itself. During this session, a consensus was reached to ensure that the fight for women’s rights, young people, indigenous and vulnerable communities, as well as the fight for the defense and promotion of all cultures that are threatened by hegemonic and global trends. There are so many cultural challenges for local authorities: cultural empowerment of communities, promotion of non-standardized creativity, support of solidarity and peace. “Culture is not just a question of entertainment or business. It is also a question of our core values for our peaceful and common life on earth. Where there is culture in the form of art, music, fashion, theater, film, jewellery then there’s peace » said Alphadi Seidnaly, UNESCO Artist For Peace.
Mrs. Rohey Malick Lowe, new president of REFELA
The General Assembly of the Network for Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) renewed its leadership. REFELA is the most important network of local elected women of Africa. Ms Rohey Malick Lowe has been elected president for the next 3 years.
“Local government is the level of government closest to the people, therefore if the lives of the people need to be impacted positively, action must be taken at the local level. Moreover, we need to consider the importance of women in our leadership roles. When women are called upon to lead, they outperform the men and statistics have shown that” , said Rohey Lowe, Mayor of Banjul and newly elected REFELA President.
Africa is the future, so is its youth. And for the youth of Africa, elected officials as well as students and academics, one of their main concerns and challenges is the climate change. Climate change is a clear and present danger for all in the continent, but especially for the most vulnerable communities of Africa. Flash floods, desertification and deforestation, climate induced migrations, loss of biodiversity, all these effects of climate change remind the young African how critic is the time we are in and how urgent a shift of policy at all levels of governance is need. Young Africans, gathered around the YELO (Young Elected Officials) network, talked about the ways to be more involved in the decision making. “We can’t wait, the planet can’t wait, our continent can’t wait, and our generation can’t neither. We are committed for climate justice now” said Sathya Naidu, member of the parliament of city of Victoria,
On 19 May, the sessions on Means will be focus on UCLG Africa Elective general assembly, Women´s Day, Youth Day, and the Mayors Forum on African cities for Clean Air.