International urbanization experts discuss urban modern law in Kenya
Some tweny experts from UN-Habitat, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Union Commission, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), members of academia, representatives from civil society and local governments gathered for a two-day meeting in Nairobi to chart out the process of elaborating a Model Law seeking to address urbanization challenges across the continent.
The meeting was part of ongoing consultations aimed at developing a harmonized implementation framework for harnessing the dynamics of rapid urbanization to accelerate structural transformation in Africa.
The working group meeting was summoned by the African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC 8) as a follow up to recommendation of its bureau meeting held in Rabat on 29 March 2018 and the meeting of STC 8 experts held on 15 June 2018 also in Rabat in accordance to the recommendation to work on an African Charter on housing and urban development.
In consideration of the lengthy process that a charter would require and given the magnitude of the challenges brought about by rapid urbanization of the continent, it was felt that the fastest and more efficient way to start mastering and having control on these challenges across the continent was to develop a model law that will then be adopted and adapted to the specific context of each AU member country.
To that effect, the meeting centered around the following specific objectives:
- Receive briefing and advice from the AUC Legal Counsel;
- Present the global Planning law assessment framework;
- Exchange on the elaboration process and validation of the draft African Union model laws;
- Experience sharing in developing other Model Laws from other Sectors
- Adapt the AU Terms of Reference (ToR) for the elaboration of the Charter to a ToR for the elaboration of model laws
- Map the potential role and responsibilities of partner institutions namely: African Institutions -AUC, Regional Economic Commissions (RECs), African development Bank (AfDB); UN organizations- UN-Habitat, ECA, Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA); Local Government – UCLGA, and others listing key opportunities for mainstreaming the process
- Draft and agree on a road map for the elaboration and review of the model law.
After robust engagement and deliberations on all items on the agenda, the working group meeting for the African Union Specialized Technical Committee (STC8) ended with the following key recommendations:
- That a steering committee be set up to guide and oversee the elaboration process of the model law. The steering committee to include representatives from the AUC, Department of Political Affairs; Pan African Parliament; UNECA, UN-Habitat; UCLG Africa and Five AU member States (1 per region)
- That UN Habitat will lead the planning process of the elaboration of the model law, including drafting Terms of Reference for hiring consultants, organizing technical meeting leading on the elaboration of the model law; implementing fund raising activities to support the process, etc.
- That the African Union Commission will ensure that the process of elaboration of the model law is included in the AU procedural machinery for the instruction and approval of AU instruments
- That the African Union Commission, Department of Political Affairs makes every effort to have the theme of « Addressing the urbanization challenge to accelerate the structural transformation of Africa » among the priority issues of one of the next conferences of heads of State and Government of the African Union (preferably for 2020).
Furthermore, the terms of reference for consultants should be developed within a period of one month and the consultative process should start in the period of three to four months, depending on the availability of budget.
The meeting underscored the need for ensuring a proper synchronization of the Africa’s operational framework for the new Urban Agenda and the obtaining of instruments such as the Model Law.
Among the critical areas to be addressed as recommended by the participants was the need for training and capacity development for effective implementation.
Meanwhile, delegates advised that the issue of urban resilience and the concept of public space should be included in the drafting of the model law.
While insisting on a collective and integrative approach in the negotiations, the meeting recommended that emphasis be made on the involvement of media in all the steps of the process.
Engagement at country and sub-regional levels to ensure that all countries are involved was also unanimously prescribed by experts in the meeting.