By Amadou Jallow
Program Officer for Communication, GALGA
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday presided over the opening of the ninth edition of Africities in Kenya’s port city of Kisumu, near the Source of Lake Victoria, where he reiterated the role of Local Government Authorities as in dispensable leaders in scaling up the role of intermediary cities.
Africities 9 Summit is organised by the Pan-African Organisation of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) which will run from the 17th to 21st May 2022, under the theme: The Role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the Implementation of United Nations Agenda 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063.
“As we continue to deliver in the shift to new paradigm, we must keep in mind that Africa is becoming accordingly urbanized. Our development plans must be in tune with the rural-urban migration and this calls for proper planning,” President Kenyatta said, while addressing delegates of about 8000 from Africa and around the world.
He said the challenges of ‘our’ time are to make Africa’s intermediary cities developed and responding to the needs of the people.
Gambia Local Government Authorities, led by the President of Gambia Association of Local Government Authorities (GALGA) are participating in the summit in their efforts to create international partnerships for development.
President Kenyatta is of the believe that Africa can thrive and adequately respond to the urgent needs of her people when there is unity and collaboration between countries, cities and people at different levels.
Gambia’s participation in the Africities 9 Summit will provide Local Government Areas the opportunity for recognition on the African continent and beyond that can bring forth the realization of increased networking and partnership with other Local Government Authorities in Africa and beyond.
As the materialization of a choice and of a will with the aim to strengthen the role of local and regional governments in the development of the continent, Africities aims to build the integration and unity of Africa from its territories. Africities summit is the largest democratic gathering organized in Africa.
Commenting on the summit, GALGA President and the sitting Chairman of Mansakonko Area Council, Landing B Sanneh said “Today, Gambia’s local government authorities are united more than ever in their commitment to network and partner with other local government leaders around the African continent and beyond towards transforming our various local government areas.”
Mr Sanneh said with the high presence of Gambia local government leaders in the summit for the first time, it is undoubted that they trust in networking, partnership and experience sharing as a tool to bring Gambia more closely to global development and the transformation of cities.
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLGA said they classify African states for their attention to local government development, saying the realities of the African continent are reflected on the way ‘we’ treat ‘our’ cities. “Our people deserve the most from health, education and other opportunities to empower them to take change for themselves.”
Maimuna Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-habitat said by 2050, 50 percent of people in the world will live in urban cities and today, more than 64 percent of people are living in informal settlements. “Our engagement with more than 30 communities in Africa presents a great potential to make the world it a beacon of hope and development.
Alongside conferences that will be held during the summit, the Africities Exhibition which was also inaugurated by President Kenyatta on Tuesday, will be held in parallel with the conference part and will consist of5 000 square meters of exhibition space with between 150 and 200 exhibitors from Africa and other continents, including country pavilions, institutional pavilions, and booths dedicated to public or private companies; B2B meetings.
James Ongwae the current Governor of Kisi County government believes that the theme of the summit resonates Kenya’s commitment to the development of its cities, saying one of the great challenges of Africa is the rapid growth of its cities and governments at the central level have to rethink to build on the opportunities. “To address the challenges, Kenya has developed the urban development in 2016 as part of responding to the SDG targets for an Africa we want by 2063.”
Governor Ongwae appealed to delegates to reflect on the need to exploit and finance urban cities; the need to formulate urban policies’ the need to strengthen the leadership of urban cities and the need for cities to adopt climate smart technologies.
President of UCLG Africa, Christine Mba Ndutume said the Africities summit will bring success on the African continent and unite leaders to focus on responding the urgent needs of the people.