New Partnership to Scale Up Support for Local Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa

A new partnership between Cities Alliance and the World Bank's Africa Region Urban and Water Unit highlights how Cities Alliance members are working together, implementing the new Cities Alliance business model and leveraging partnerships to help local governments respond to urbanisation in Africa.
Long one of the world’s least urbanised regions, Sub-Saharan Africa is urbanising rapidly. Over the next 20 years its urban population is expected to double, and by 2030 a majority of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa will live in cities.
Within that context, the World Bank’s Africa Region is leading new thinking on how to support African countries as they respond to the challenges of urbanisation.
A bold, new approach to urban development seeks to shift the focus away from individual, single-sector projects towards a more programmatic approach that can effect urban transformation at scale.
This new direction meshed well with the new business model adopted by the Cities Alliance in November 2010, which featured a more strategic, programmatic approach. It was clear that there was an excellent opportunity for a partnership.
Leveraging partnerships to achieve impact
In April 2011, Cities Alliance and AFTUW signed an agreement for an initial three-year Joint Work Programme to support a range of governments in Sub-Saharan Africa, from middle-income countries like South Africa to lower-income countries such as Mauritania.
The partnership aims to support a series of activities that will help countries adopt an economy-wide and sector-wide approach to urban development in Africa, rather than funding specific projects or studies.
In the first year, the activities will emphasise the following components:
  • Supporting policy analysis and advocacy to raise the profile and importance of urban issues among national policy makers in Africa, catalyse active dialogue on urban policy and financing, and provide targeted assistance at the national and municipal level to promising clients;
  • Facilitating capacity building and peer to peer learning for national and municipal leaders, urban local governments and other stakeholders, and integrating other training and capacity building activities of the World Bank and other Cities Alliance members; and  
  • Providing targeted operational assistance for the development, design, financing, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of national and city-level policy and investment programmes to support Sub-Saharan Africa’s transition to an urban economic and political system.
The Joint Work Programme will be implemented by AFTUW in coordination with the Cities Alliance Secretariat, other Cities Alliance members, and development partners. Both the activities and the focus countries will be based on direct demand from clients.
One of the first activities of the new Cities Alliance-AFTUW partnership is the Large Cities Support Programme, a Government of South Africa initiative that aims to increase the overall efficiency of service delivery in South African cities.
It is emerging as an important national programme of support for the country’s eight major urban centres and reaffirms the role that cities are expected to play in South Africa’s economic development.
At the invitation of the South African National Treasury, the World Bank is providing global knowledge and expertise in support of the design and implementation of the Large Cities Support Programme alongside Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and other bilateral partners. 
Both the programme and its approach are expected to generate considerable knowledge and sharpen an urbanisation response model that could benefit other African countries. This is consistent with Cities Alliance experience that learning from middle-income countries such as South Africa and Brazil is extremely useful for other countries that are expanding or beginning an urban programme.
The programme builds on the history of Cities Alliance support for South Africa, which began with a city development strategy for Johannesburg in 2001 and includes the first State of South African Cities Report in 2004. Cities Alliance has also supported the successful National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP), now being mainstreamed into the National Department of Human Settlements.
Activities in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Senegal are also likely to be supported under the Cities Alliance-AFTUW partnership.
The programmatic approach at the centre of the partnership ties in well with the Cities Alliance Country Partnership Programmes, which seek to mobilise Cities Alliance members around long-term, demand-oriented interventions that are uniquely tailored a country’s specific urban context and needs. There are currently Country Partnership Programmes underway in three Sub-Saharan African countries: Uganda, Ghana and Burkina Faso.
In addition, Cities Alliance is initiating the rollout of State of the Cities Reports in cities across Sub-Saharan Africa. The programme, which is also supported by the World Bank Institute and UN-HABITAT, is being implemented by the African Centre for Cities located within the Planning School at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.


 Read the full feature story at