By Fredrick  Odiero 

As the Africities Summit concluded in Kisumu, Kenya, the continent was urged to leverage on the huge opportunities offered by small and intermediary cities and their rural hinterlands and implement a more balanced spatial distribution of economic activities and jobs creation for the African Union (AU)’s Agenda 2063 to materialize.

The over 10,000 delegates who attended the 9th edition of the Africities summit came up with far reaching resolutions which touch on environment, urban development and population growth.

They said they have to come to terms with the fact  that climate change is here to stay and that the task of the day is for African local governments to adapt to the consequences of climate change and adopt more climate compatible and resilient pathways to the development at the level of cities and territories, including in intermediary cities.

Further, they said that the acceleration of the digital transformation of society puts pressure on cities and local governments that are summoned to revise their management and relations with the citizens and other stakeholders, through the use of digital technologies and smart solutions, despite the limitations they encounter in terms of availability of infrastructure, equipment and skilled personnel.

They declared that women and youths are the levers of the structural transformation of Africa and should therefore be more involved in the governance structures of cities and territories.

They further resolved to make intermediary cities structuring poles of sustainable development in Africa by granting them a prominent place in spatial planning, and creating new territorial dynamics that promote exchanges and linkages between the rural and urban environments.

The participants also affirmed their willingness to establish a constructive political dialogue between the different spheres of government in order to abide by the principle of subsidiary, an essential factor in the effectiveness of public policies.

In a declaration after the five day conference the delegates undertook to give priority to urban planning as an instrument for controlling the growth of urban and peri-urban areas by putting in place the institutional, legal, regulatory and operational instruments as well as the conditions for a participatory dialogue with the people.

They also endorsed the objectives of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, the New Urban Agenda, the Right to the City and the AU’s 2063 Agenda and their translation into local development plans and call on African countries to develop concerted urban development strategies with adequate technical and financial resources in accordance with the United Nations New Urban Agenda.

‘We are convinced of the place of youth in the construction of the new Africa and call on the Mayors to create local youth empowerment councils aiming at their blossoming, their integration and their socialization in the city.’ The resolution read.

They also vowed to adopt culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development by strengthening the cultural identity of territories to make it a potential vector of economic development.

They called on Mayors to develop programs and action plans to fight precariousness and vulnerability, especially the ones of street children, isolated women, and dissocialized youth, to combat violence against women by participating in the actions of women’s groups, and to sign the African Charter for Gender Equality  and applying its principles in their local governments

The delegates also affirmed that climate change is a key issue for their territories and recommended to local governments to adopt the necessary measures to prepare their territories for the consequences of climate change and invite them to adhere to the Convention of African Mayors for Climate.

They called upon all States to sign and ratify the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development and to ensure the proper implementation of the principles it contains.

“We call for a better distribution of public resources in favor of the development of intermediate urban centers and for a greater attention to the public policies intended meant for them,” the resolution read.

They further called for a better use of local taxation and an effective collection of local government taxes, notably property tax.

The over 10,000 delegates called on  Central Governments to develop programs to strengthen connections between intermediate cities and their hinterlands in order to strengthen exchanges around economic watersheds by eliminating transaction costs.

They further proposed to strengthen the links between intermediate cities and the capital cities of States by building secure road networks, railway infrastructures and air links based on local realities and to strengthen digital connectivity.

The delegates urged the AU and the African States to recognize the importance of decentralized cooperation and exchanges between local and regional governments in order to strengthen the knowledge and powers of their institutions.

They supported the establishment of an African Erasmus scheme for committed young people, as enshrined in the 2063 Agenda.

“We call on the entire African community to commit itself to the emancipation of women and young people by promoting economic support programs dedicated to women and young people, but also by facilitating access to decent and affordable housing, guaranteeing security, by preventing delinquency through campaigns to combat violence against women, and by offering young people integration and socialization programs through sport and culture,” resolution read.

They called on international partners to support the development of African intermediary cities by setting up dedicated programs and funding adapted to local realities.

The delegates called on the partners, in accordance with the Paris Agreement on Aid Effectiveness, to align themselves with the ongoing decentralization processes in African States based on decentralized or ongoing sector-based policies of decentralization.

They further called on the international community to take into account the point of view of local and regional governments in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of global agendas.

The delegates called for the emergence of a world where Africa is recognized as a continent contributing to the emergence of a united global society that respects the planet, the climate, the biodiversity and primarily men and women who form the same and common destiny.

The 9th Africities summit which started on 17, May, 2022, concluded on 21, May, 2022.