Some 8,300 participants representing over 77 countries, including 53 African countries and nearly 3,000 local elected representatives, mayors and other leaders of local and subnational governments gathered from December 20 to 24, 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco at the occasion of the Africities Summit 2018, which organisers say has proven itself to be the most important democratic gathering on the continent.
“The Africities Summit gave a voice to local authorities. Thanks to that recognition, the idea that local Africa will change Africa is making headway,” said Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).
Indeed, 20 years of the Africities Summit was celebrated and highlighted with the presentation of the UCLG Africa anthem, composed by David André, Mayor of the City of Victoria, Seychelles, and Vice President of UCLG Africa.
The closing ceremony of the Africities 8 Summit was marked by the reading of the Royal Message by Princess Lalla Meryem, who, on the occasion, officially launched the pan-African campaign, “African cities without street children.”
The initiative from the Network of Locally Elected Women in Africa, (REFELA), UCLG Africa’s Gender Equality Commission, is supported by the National Observatory for the Rights of Children (ONDE) of Morocco. About 20 cities in Africa have already subscribed to this campaign, including the city of Rabat, which will serve as the pilot city for the campaign in Morocco. For the implementation of this campaign, three memoranda of understanding have been signed between ONDE and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in support of this international campaign between ONDE and UCLG Africa.
The campaign will be implemented across the continent by UCLG Africa; and between ONDE, the City of Rabat and four ministerial departments of the government for the national campaign in Morocco.
The political segment of the Summit started on November 23 with a round table on city diplomacy introduced by Denis Coderre, former Mayor of Montreal, Canada, with the participation of panelists including Catherine Samba-Pandza, former Head of State of the Central African Republic and former Mayor of the city of Bangui.
Several recommendations and proposals emerged from the 160 sessions held across the five days under the general theme “The transition to sustainable cities and territories: the role of local and sub-national governments of Africa”.
All the recommendations and proposals were submitted to ministers, mayors and leaders of local governments and development partners for consideration and adoption at the meeting of ministers, the general meeting of UCLG Africa, and the meeting of development partners, which were organised in parallel during the afternoon of November 23. The political segment ended on the morning of November 24, with a tripartite dialogue meeting between ministers, mayors and development partners.
UCLG Africa’s Executive Committee held its elections at which The City of Libreville, represented by its Mayor, Mrs. Rose Christiane Ossouka-Raponda, was elected as the new President of UCLG Africa for a term of three years, which will end at the next general assembly scheduled for 2021. In addition, the city of Bagangte in Cameroon, represented by its Mayor, Celestine Ketcha-Courtès, was re-elected as President of REFELA.
Amongst the special events of the Summit, meetings held between the mayors and locally elected officials of Africa and their counterparts in Asia-Pacific, mainly from China and Japan; and the meeting between the mayors and leaders of local and regional governments in Africa and their African American counterparts.
The African American network of mayors announced: “Some 400 years after crossing the Door of No Return, where the first boat left the shores of Africa bound for the Americas carrying children of Africa, it is now time to consider starting the opposite wave, by opening, at the initiative of the mayors and leaders of the local and regional governments of Africa, the ‘Door of Return’ to the African Americans of the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America and declaring that Africities is the right place to launch this mobilisation for the Road of Return.
Three special days were organised during the Summit: “Migration Day” on November 21, “Climate Day” on November 22 and “Urban Planning Day” on November 23.
The Migration Day recalled the crucial role of local and subnational governments in managing migration, and the urgent need to make them stakeholders in the negotiation of the Global Compact on Migration, which must be concluded at the United Nations Conference on Migration, due to take place from December 8 to 11, in Marrakech.
Climate Day emphasised the urgency of involving local and subnational governments in the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and even considering Locally Determined Contributions (LDCs) if, as is desirable, local and subnational governments plan to participate in the Paris Agreement ambitions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century with respect to the pre-industrial period.
In this context, the localisation of NDCs is essential and UCLG Africa was asked to develop and implement a capacity-building programme for its members, so that they have a climate plan and can prepare applications that are eligible for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). UCLG Africa was also asked to broaden the scope of its Climate Task Force to spearhead the climate action of African local governments. A Declaration was adopted at the end of the proceedings of the Climate Day.
The Urban Planning Day focused on urban planning as a basic tool for transitioning to sustainable cities and territories. It reiterated the importance of setting up urban agencies to monitor the dynamics of urbanisation and to put in place a framework for dialogue between all actors to define the allocation and policies around the use of urban space in respect of ecological constraints.
The day resulted in the signing of eight partnership agreements between 14 African cities in Morocco and their sisters in Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Senegal, Uganda, Tunisia and Cameroon, with the technical support of the Association of Urban Agencies of Morocco, the Moroccan “Al Omrane” Holding, the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
Partnership agreements for urban planning and the establishment of urban agencies were entered between: the cities of Dakar (Senegal) and Rabat (Morocco); Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Casablanca (Morocco); Yaoundé (Cameroon) and Marrakech; Jinja (Uganda) and Essaouira (Morocco); Sousse (Tunisia) and El Jadida; Rufisque (Senegal) and Dakhla; and Abomey (Benin) and Al Hoceima.
The Summit highlighted two key players, without whom the transition to sustainable cities and territories cannot be envisioned in Africa: they are women and youth. About 25 percent of Summit sessions were dedicated to gender issues, including the fight against violence against women; and the economic empowerment of women.
At the Youth Forum, 20 young people aged 16 to 35 were selected on the basis of a call for ideas to participate in a Creative Lab on the theme, “Imagine your city and imagine Africa in 2030 and 2063”. These young people were invited to submit their projects to the delegates of the Summit, using the Africities new innovative voting platform, of which three projects would be awarded.
The following three projects were the successful recipients of the Creative Lab awards: First prize winner was Yvette Ishinwe, from Rwanda, for her project on the use of new technologies for optimal use of drinking water at standpipes (Iriba tap and drink innovation); Second Prize winner was Zaheer Allam, from Mauritius, for his smart urban regeneration project; while Third Prize winner was Oulimata Sourang, from Senegal, for her E-Learning Assistant project.
A further competition, Climate Initiatives Trophies, was organised and also decided by the voting of delegates at the Summit. It celebrates cities and territories that have implemented the most remarkable actions in the fight against climate change. These were awarded to three categories of cities and territories.
For the small towns category (less than 20,000 inhabitants), the winner was the Municipality of Ndiob (Senegal) for the implementation of its “green and resilient commune” project. For the category of cities and territories of intermediate size (between 20,000 and 200,000 inhabitants), the laureate is the City of Chefchaouen in Morocco, for the realisation of its “Energy Info Centre”. For the category of cities and large territories, the laureate is the Tivaouane Departmental Council (Senegal) for the implementation of its project “Preserving a sustainable agricultural environment”.
The Africities Exhibition, which was organised simultaneously, saw the participation of 84 exhibitors, coming from Morocco (39 exhibitors), other regions of Africa (29 exhibitors from 11 countries), Europe (14 exhibitors from 6 countries), from Asia (one exhibitor from South Korea), and from America (one exhibitor from Canada).
Delegates paid tribute to King Mohammed VI of Morocco for agreeing to grant his High Patronage to the eighth edition of the Africities Summit and thanked the Government of Morocco, the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Communal Councils, and the City and administrative authorities of Marrakech who made every effort to ensure that the Africities Summit took place under impressive conditions.