Since the late 1980s, following international trends, urban governance in Africa has moved towards greater decentralization. It should be stated from the outset, however, that the transition to nominal local control of Africa’s cities has proven to be a largely symbolic exercise making urbanisation and city growth fundamentally flawed in many cities across the African continent.
Despite this, urban centres continue to be engines of growth and development. The good governance of cities is, therefore, viewed as one of the most important means towards the eradication of poverty and the maintenance of prosperous cities. Good urban governance promotes the rights of all people by ensuring that all urban residents reap the benefits of urbanization. It, moreover, constitutes a key pillar of the New Urban Agenda (Habitat III) which recognizes the links between good urbanisation and development i.e. linkages between good urbanisation and job creation, livelihood opportunities, and improved quality of life, which should be included in every urban renewal policy and strategy. The Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 11 which purposes to "Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" takes this even further.
Successful cities respond to the needs of the people living in them. Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want” notes that weak institutions and poor governance mechanisms increase the risk of low performance, wasted resources, inefficient sectoral interventions, human rights violations, and an overall lack of progress.
As important as these international commitments are- the devil really is in the detail. Only once the African region, African countries, and more importantly, African cities interrogate constitutional and legislative frameworks and corresponding governance structures to understand how the governance systems and structures of cities can be improved in real-time – is there any prospect of good, positive urbanisation for all. This is what the African School on Decentralisation is embarking on in its course for 2022. From 30 May to 10 June 2022, experts from different parts of Africa and elsewhere will come together to share with a select group of government officials, academics, members of civil society as well as city leaders and managers from the Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network and reflect on the need for well-functioning cities.
What then are the essential building blocks for well-functioning African cities? For cities to function optimally, two key ingredients are required, first is having in place appropriate policies to advance the wellbeing of cities, and, secondly, ensuring the effectiveness and integrity of the city structures and the means of pursuing those policies. To achieve well-governed cities, it then becomes imperative to study and understand:
- The context and challenges affecting cities domestically, regionally, and globally;
- How cities are structured and empowered to meet governance challenges;
- How their financing and financial management capacitates them to deliver on their mandates;
- What the major governance issues are, as they relate to environmental sustainability, climate change, gendered and safer cities’; and
- How data is used as a planning tool in development?
Join in on the discussions that will be held on 30 May 2022 during the opening of the African School on Decentralisation.
About the eventTheme: Good Governance in African Cities
Date: Monday, 30 May 2022
Time: 9h00 - 12h30 SAST
Platform: Zoom (CLICK HERE for link)
PROGRAMME AND MORE INFORMATION