African Mayors to Caucus in Kenya

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By Engel Nawatiseb WINDHOEK African Mayors have been urged to make budgetary provision and book places for the Afri-cities Summit scheduled for Nairobi, Kenya in mid September. Kinuthia Wamwangi, Deputy Director of Africities National Organizing Committee said the summit would encourage local authorities to built coalitions for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in African Local Governments. He said the platform would create an opportunity for African mayors to determine the future direction of the continent. The summit brings together central and local governments, NGOs, the private sector, training and research institutions as well as Municipal Development Partnership (MDP) partners in the donor and support agencies. Wamwangi said last week that Africities was established to promote African integration through local-to-local cooperation and networks and to deepen the political will for the decentralization process in Africa through central government support and commitment, as well as to strengthen the African municipal movement. “The summit has become one of the important platforms of dialogue on decentralization and local development since it was started in 1998 and is now growing into a major world forum and voice for Africa. We are expecting close to 5 000 participants in Kenya to map out strategies aimed at the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and to develop a global partnership for development amongst many others.” The summit would run for five days. The first two days will be devoted to thematic and transversal sessions that will offer an opportunity for in-depth exchange on the theme: “Building Local Conditions for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in African local government, including their targets”. The third day of the summit will focus on different institutions and networks that have been working in the area of decentralization and local government in Africa to showcase their experiences. Said Wamwangi: “The last two days are devoted to political meetings of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) and the African Conference on Decentralization and Local Development (AMCOD). A tripartite dialogue between members of UCLGA and AMCOD and their development partners who are supporting decentralization and local development in Africa will form part of the closing sessions.” Africities provides a forum for a continental exchange of information and good practices between elected local government officials (mayors), technical officials and local government research and training institutions. In attendance would be slum dwellers, youth and women’s organizations, traditional rulers, international and big business community, finance community, African small and medium enterprises, workers’ unions and federations, academia, experts and professionals in municipal and urban management, and professionals of local government administration. Wamwangi added that the meetings of mayors and local elected representatives would start with an introductory report on the African municipal movement and its participation in the world municipal movement and will also discuss the outcomes of the founding congress of UCLGA as well as follow-up actions. The meeting will also assess progress made since the YaoundÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚©, Cameroon summit in the delivery of basic service in African local governments and the way forward. It will discuss and adopt the recommendations tabled by the stakeholders’ meeting and the special sessions and equally discuss a nine-year strategic programme and a three-year plan of actions to speed up the implementation of MDGs in African local governments. The meeting of ministers will begin with an introductory report on the state of decentralization policy implementation in Africa. The minister’s meeting will discuss and adopt the constituent texts of the “All African Ministerial Conference on Decentralization and Local Development” drawn up during the stakeholder meetings and special sessions, react on the proposed strategic plans and also on the proposal for an African Charter on local governance and autonomy. The three party dialogue meeting of mayors, ministers and partners will focus on the hurdles that need to be removed and the partnership and cooperation that needs to be developed in order for African local governments to meet MDGs. “A financial support strategy as well as the needed adjustments for a more effective and efficient cooperation on the Millennium Development Goals will also be discussed,” said Wamwangi. The summit will also host an expo for exhibitions, meetings and entertainment. Municipalities, associations of local authorities and international institutions, public and private enterprises and banking and financial institutions that support African local governments, will hire the exhibition stands.