From September 27 to October 1, 2021, a delegation of the General Secretariat of UCLG Africa led by Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi visited Libreville in Gabon to establish contact with the Mayor of Libreville, Christine Ndutume Mba, who has just been confirmed as President of UCLG Africa until May 2022, after the acceptance of her electoral programme by her peers from the Executive Committee of UCLG Africa.
In her electoral programme, the Mayor of Libreville undertook to chair the organisation with dedication and determination so that UCLG Africa contributes to the achievement of the vision defined by the members of the organisation, namely, “to contribute to the unity of the continent and promote the development of Africa from its territories”.
During the mission of the UCLG Africa delegation, working sessions were organised with members of the Association of Mayors of Gabon (AMG), with the Network of Locally Elected Women (REFELA) of Gabon, and with the teams of the Municipality of Libreville.
These working sessions enabled Gabon’s local and subnational governments to take stock of their responsibilities in consolidating the decentralisation policy in Gabon, and to ensure massive participation of local Gabonese elected officials in the next Africities Summit scheduled to take place in Kisumu, Kenya, in May 2022.
The delegation of UCLG Africa’s General Secretariat was informed of the reorganisation of REFELA-Gabon and insisted that the Gabon chapter of the network of Young Local Elected representatives (YELO-Gabon) be set up, which will bring together local elected representatives aged 35 and under.
The delegation finally informed the President of UCLG Africa of the international events in which her presence is highly desired, namely: COP 26 in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from November 1 to 12, 2021; the meeting of the Executive Board of UCLG-World in Barcelona, Spain, from 16 to 18 November 2021; the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, Senegal, from March 22 to 26, 2022; and the Africities Summit in Kisumu, Kenya, from May 17 to 21, 2022.
Audience with the Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda
On September 29, 2021, under the leadership of the President of UCLG Africa and the Mayor of Libreville, the delegation was received in audience by the Prime Minister, Madam Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda, in the presence of the Minister of State, Minister of Local Governments of Gabon, M. Mathias Otounga Ossibadjouo. This audience confirmed Gabon’s agreement to host the headquarters of the UCLG Africa Regional Office in Libreville and the upcoming signing of the corresponding headquarters agreement between the government of Gabon and UCLG Africa.
The government’s approval was also obtained for the holding in Libreville on October 25 and 26, 2021, of the regional caucus meeting of mayors and local elected representatives of Central Africa, as a preparatory meeting for the Africities Summit and the elective General Assembly of UCLG Africa scheduled for May 20, 2022, in Kisumu. Madam Prime Minister gave her instructions for the immediate start of preparations for the regional caucus meeting.
Finally, the delegation recalled that Gabon was still not a signatory of the African Charter of the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development, adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, during their conference held in June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Madam Prime Minister took good note of this fact and promised that the steps would be taken so that this signature takes place as soon as possible.
The delegation also had working sessions with the President and the team of the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS). At the end of the fruitful discussions, it was agreed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between ECCAS and UCLG Africa in order to promote the involvement of local authorities in the dynamics of regional integration in Central Africa.
The delegation also had working sessions with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations du Gabon (CDC-Gabon). The sessions with this financial institution focused mainly on strengthening relations between local authorities and CDC-Gabon, in particular about the involvement of local and regional governments in Gabon in the implementation of climate action, also setting up and financing of projects. CDC-Gabon and UCLG Africa have agreed to cooperate to prepare a Readiness programme for the benefit of local governments in Central African States to be submitted for financing by the Green Climate Fund.
The two parties also agreed to set up a project incubation platform in order to significantly increase the place of Gabon’s local governments in the portfolio of projects co-financed by CDC-Gabon. It was also agreed to officially invite UCLG Africa to the meeting of the Forum des Caisses scheduled in Libreville, Gabon, on October 27, 2021.
The delegation finally had a meeting with the Ambassador of the European Union to Gabon, São-Tomé-and-Principe, and ECCAS. This meeting made it possible to verify that the European Union is still well disposed towards supporting Gabon’s local governments and has for this purpose several lines of support that it can mobilise within the framework of the budget of the new cooperation cycle between the E.U. and Gabon (2021-2027) for the region.
Madam Ambassador confirmed her availability to receive requests prepared by the Association of Mayors of Gabon and REFELA-Gabon and declared herself ready to hold working sessions with the heads of these associations to make headway in connection with these various issues.
The Secretary General of UCLG Africa renewed the thanks of the delegation to all the interlocutors who accepted to receive the delegation during its stay in Libreville.
He particularly thanked the Prime Minister for her care, her listening, her advice, and for confirming the hosting by Gabon of the headquarters of the UCLG Africa Regional Office in Libreville.
The Secretary General of UCLG Africa confirmed the commitment of the UCLG Africa General Secretariat team and his personal commitment to support and provide assistance to Madam President Christine Mba Ndutume for the success in her mission as leader of the organisation.