Learning from Peers – Shaping Africa’s Urban Development (Urbanet)
By Dana de la Fontaine, Lennard Kehl and Marie-Alexandra Kurth
From 14 to 16 September 2016, the Cities Alliance organised the workshop “Fostering the Role of Cities: A Strategy for Africa” in Accra, Ghana. The workshop aimed to encourage mutual learning between Cities Alliance’s members and active partners in Africa, create synergies and increase collaboration efforts and agreed commitments, and establish strategic orientations for Cities Alliance future activities in Africa.
Delegations from all seven African Country Programme partner countries of the Cities Alliance, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Tunisia and Uganda, as well as local government representatives from other African Countries, such as Kenya, Senegal and South Africa, and international experts from international cooperation organisations, academia, private sector and civil society participated at the three-day event.
The official delegation from Mozambique, with the support of the Mozambican “Good Financial Governance Programme” of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, used this opportunity for an extended study trip in order to exchange with their Ghanaian peers. This study trip took place in the light of Mozambique’s current attempts to host its first National Urban Forum and to start the discussion around the need of a National Urban Policy.
As Ghana had launched its National Urban Policy and Action Plan already in 2012, the Mozambican delegation was interested in learning from the experiences gathered from the elaboration up to the implementation of this policy. Headed by the Vice-Minister for State Administration and Public Function, Hon. Samuel Roque Silva, the delegation encompassed 15 members with representatives from various Ministries acting in the urban sector, local governments, the National Association for Local Governments (ANAMM), civil society, academia, the private sector and international cooperation partners.
As a kick-off, the Ghanaian GIZ Programme “Support for Decentralisation Reforms (SfDR) in Ghana” and its cooperation partner Cities Alliance introduced the delegation to the Ghanaian urban framework and presented the achievements of Ghana in developing a national urban agenda focused on inclusive urban development policies and strategies.
In an inter-ministerial meeting with the Ghanaian Ministries for Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) and Water, Resources, Works and Housing (MWRWH), the Mozambican delegation learnt about the extensive consultative process of the policy elaboration, which started in 2009, as well as the status of the implementation of the Action Plan. Furthermore, they heard about the challenges of coordinating the cross-sectoral process of urban development while facing rapid urban growth. They also discussed the assets and drawbacks for sustainable urban development in the two countries.
The dialogue was enriched with inputs from the MWRWH, which launched the Housing Policy in 2015 in order to counteract the high housing demand and the outspread of informal settlements as a consequence of rapid urbanisation and so far, weak local authorities to cope with that. The necessity of aligning both policies and to ensure close cooperation between both sector Ministries was discussed as well. Additionally, GAPTE, a project to improve urban mobility in Ghana’s major cities, was presented. This project aims at reducing traffic congestions and air pollution, as well as delivering accessible transportation for all.
Following the inter-ministerial exchange, the delegation visited the National Association for Local Government (NALAG) to discuss the different systems of local government in both countries, as well as the important role and obligations of local authorities in delivering adequate urban services and driving urban development.
The presidents of both associations, Hon. Isaac Odamtten from Ghana and Mr. Tagir Carimo from Mozambique, led a vibrant discussion on the importance of strong and independent local authorities and well-functioning national associations for local authorities for improved knowledge management and exchange.
Later during the day, the delegation visited the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and showed particular interest in the role of civil society in the urban sector and the policy formulation process. The discussion concentrated on the crucial role civil society organisation play in keeping national and local authorities accountable towards their citizen and to ensure adequate service delivery.
During the following three-day Cities Alliance workshop, the Mozambican delegation had the opportunity to deepen the discussions around the state of the urban agenda in Africa, especially concerning the other six Cities Alliance country programmes present at the venue. It was clear that each country has its own specific conditions of urbanisation – but that all depend on coordinated multi-level dialogue mechanisms in order to find sustainable and inclusive answers. Another key message was to see urbanisation as a chance for national development, unlocking social and economic potentials by expanding public and private services especially to youth and women.
In a private meeting with Cities Alliance Director William Cobbett, the head of the Mozambican Delegation, Vice-Minister for State Administration and Public Function, Hon. Samuel Roque Silva underlined the importance of the Cities Alliance Country Programme for his country. Faced with rapid urbanisation, Mozambique is keen to develop coherent instruments to deal with the challenges and potentials linked to this process. In Roque Silva’s view, it is very important to continue the cooperation with Cities Alliance in order to support the development of an integrated national urban policy linked to an action plan.
Finally, after the Cities Alliance Workshop, the study tour ended with a site visit at the Ningo Prampram City Extension Project. The project in Ningo Prampram, on the western outskirts of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), is the planned city extension for Accra, which is expected to grow from 2.5 to 4.2 million people in the next ten years. The project, which is supported by UN-Habitat, has elaborated, in a comprehensive and all-inclusive approach, a Masterplan that not only includes residential transportation and economic aspects, but also aspects of urban greening and climate change adaptation.
All in all, the delegation was delighted by the study trip and the workshop and want to incorporate their gained experiences into the national settings in Mozambique. A first step in that direction is the first National Urban Forum, which will be held in Maputo in October 2016.
This article was first published in Urbanet http://www.urbanet.info/shaping-africas-urban-development/