Africities Summit Highlights Opportunity for Africa, Need to Strengthen Local Government

Cities Alliance rallied behind the message of strengthening local government in Africa through its participation at the 7th Africities summit in Johannesburg from 29 November to 3 December 2015.

Cities Alliance rallied behind the message of strengthening local government in Africa through its participation at the 7th Africities summit which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 29 November to 3 December 2015 under the theme “Shaping the Future of Africa with the People.”

In close partnership with the summit organisers, United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA), Cities Alliance organised two thematic sessions on Strategy formulation, Policy and Programming, and Assessing the Institutional Environment of Local Governments in Africa which took place on 29 November. 

In addition to this, Cities Alliance held two open sessions on 1 December on Youth and the City: Youth Participation towards Inclusive Cities in Africa (with UN-Habitat) and Local Governance and the Role of Inclusive partnerships for the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda (with Development Partners Network on Decentralisation and Local Governance, DeLoG). 

Cities Alliance’s participation at the Africities summit ended on a high note on with the Donor’s Political Debate, organised with DeLoG on 2 December. The outcomes of the Donor’s Political debate were delivered as a statement to Development Partners, Ministers and Mayors during a political session skillfully moderated by Clare Short, Cities Alliance Senior Policy Advisor on 3 December.

The overall tone of the summit was one of optimism and opportunity for Africa, but with a concerted call for local governments to be supported to better serve their citizens. William Cobbett, Director of Cities Alliance spoke to CNBC Africa at the Cities Alliance booth about the need to create a policy shift in many African countries in order to address the issue of slums and informal settlements. “Most local governments do not have the capacity or the data to be able to properly manage the urban land market and land administration. This is a big obstacle,” he said. 

The Cities Alliance booth, which enjoyed a prominent position at the Sandton Exhibition Centre, featured striking photographs with thought-provoking messages on young people as Africa’s greatest resource and recognition of the informal sector in Africa. Visitors to the booth obtained information on Cities Alliance’s programmes and funding opportunities and Cities Alliance members used the booth as a meeting space, while various media outlets used it as a backdrop for interviews.

Cities Alliance’s partnership was reinforced at Africities through SDI’s launch of the Know Your City Campaign and UCGLA’s official launch of the 2015 edition of Assessing the Institutional Environment of Local Governments in Africa. 

The New Urban Agenda open session with DeLoG

The open session on the Implementation of the New Urban Agenda featured Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi (UCLGA) as the Master of Ceremony. 

The session was organised around two panels with distinguished speakers including Philipp Misselwitz, Institute of Technology, TU Berlin; Henry De Cazotte, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MFA); Hon. Emmanuel K. Agyekum, Deputy Minister, Ministry for Local Governance and Rural Development, Ghana; Hon. Issac Odamtten, Mayor of Tema, Ghana; Tamzin Hudson, Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI); Rose Molokoane, South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP/SDI).

The programme for the open session panel discussion was:

  • The SDGs and their implications for cities in the New Urban Agenda
  • How to create favourable national frameworks for decentralisation and local governance and sustainable urban development
  • How to mobilise know how, capacities and funding to strengthen management and accountability in the city


The session provided a number of inputs to generate recommendations for the Habitat III preparation process and the formulation of the New Urban Agenda.