Africities Summit to boost local economy

Africities Summit to boost local economyAerial photo of the M2 highway passing just east of Johannesburg's city centre. Photo copyright Oscar Guteirrez

Held every three years, the Africities Summit is the premier showcase for local government and cities in Africa.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin GordhanCooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan officially launches the 7th Africities SummitThe 7th Africities Summit, to be hosted by the City of Joburg in December 2015, is set to be a major boost for the local economy.

"We are confident that the summit will stimulate local economic activities, especially tourism, as we witnessed with the 2010 World Cup," Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan said during the official launch of the summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 14 October.

Africities 7, Gordhan said, would look at creative answers to problems currently facing local governments across the continent. From 1 to 5 December 2015, the summit will explore the theme of "Shaping the future of Africa with the people: African local government contribution to the Africa 2063 vision".

Local government 'key to Africa's liberation'

"As the sphere closest to the people, effective local government is critical for ensuring that citizens have a positive experience of government," Gordhan said.

"It is when people are given the opportunity and resources to meaningfully participate in the affairs of their local governments that we can achieve the vision of a truly empowered and liberated people of Africa.

"Our collective mission is to support the building of a capable, efficient and effective local government system that changes the quality of life of the one-billion citizens of Africa."

Gordhan described the summit's theme as "very appropriate at a time when, throughout the world, the democratic model is perceived to serve elites only, and economic benefits are unevenly shared".

Developing a new and better Africa by 2063 "is a task that starts now, as we begin to outline the local government vision for the next 50 years," Gordhan said. "Ours is the task to write the next chapter in the history of Africa, and improve the quality of life of all Africans, young and old, poor and rich, urban and rural, uneducated or educated, women and men."

Engaging with Africa's diverse constituencies

Organised by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), the summit takes place every three years and tackles issues of urban and economic development in African cities.

Topics to be covered during Africities 7 include the social and economic impact of urbanisation, economic growth and urban poverty, infrastructure development, environmental challenges and climate change.

The UCLGA's members include 40 national associations of local governments from across Africa, along with 2 000 cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants worldwide.

"All of us need to cooperate to solve the problems," Gordhan said at the launch, adding: "The biggest challenge is to turn inequality around."

Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau described the summit as the premier showcase for local government and cities in Africa, adding: "It also plays an increasingly important role in creating discourse, dialogue and debate on the role and future of African cities."

Engagement with Africa’s diverse and mobile constituencies, each with its own aspirations, was a challenge that had to take seriously, Tau said. "For African cities to survive and prosper in the 21st century, their officials need to work closely with these varied and dynamic urban constituencies."

Tau said the intended outcomes of the summit were ones that would "give the people a voice, give them a stake in the game as active engaged citizens in local government and decision-making".

The City of Johannesburg was selected to host the 7th Africities Summit based on its track record of organising major international events, including the Metropolis Board of Directors and One Young World meetings in 2013.

More than 5 000 participants from across the globe, including local and national government officials, economists and financial planners involved in local economies, are expected to attend the summit.

Sources: and