African cities are becoming key contributors to the development agenda not only on the continent but worldwide, says Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau.

Joburg City Manager Trevor FowlerJoburg City Manager Trevor Fowler welcomes delegates to the seminar. Fowler said they could rest assured that Johannesburg would be ready to host the 7th Africities Summit. (Photo: at a regional seminar of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) in Pretoria on 19 August, Mayor Tau said Africa’s local governments were poised to make vital contributions, not only to the realisation of Vision 2063 of the African Union, but also to the adoption of the United Nation’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

The UCLGA seminar formed part of the build-up for the 7th Africities Summit, which is taking place at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre from 29 November to 3 December.

Held every three years, the Africities Summit tackles issues affecting urban and economic development in African cities, with a focus on sharing experiences, best practices and innovations in order to come up with solutions to developmental challenges on the continent.

More than 5 000 participants from across Africa and the globe, including local and national government officials, economists and financial planners involved in local economies, are expected to attend the summit, which will be held under the theme: “Shaping the Future of Africa with the People: Africa’s Local Government Contribution to the Africa 2063 Vision”.

Mayor Tau said the summit would provide a platform for local governments across the continent both to assume an active role in the shaping of Africa’s future cities and to add their voice to global talks on development.

UCLGA Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Elong MbassiThe seminar was moderated by UCLGA Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi. (Photo:

The Africities Summit came at an opportune time, he said, with the world looking to define various solutions on sustainable development at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in Seoul in September, the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December – just days after Africities 2015 – and Habitat III, the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.

“The acknowledgement of local government as a partner and solution finder in global talks on sustainability and development – which will be discussed at the UN General Assembly in September, COP 21 in December, and Habitat lll in October next year – is a great achievement collectively for local governments everywhere.”

Earlier this year, mayors from around the world gathered at the Vatican, where Pope Francis urged local governments and societies to engage and find solutions to human trafficking. Following this, additional sessions on modern-day slavery were added to the Africities Summit programme.

“It is clear that Africities is seen as a platform to engage on these discussions and provide practical solutions to some of the problems,” Mayor Tau said.

He noted that human trafficking was particularly critical in the developing world, and was closely related to other issues that would be high on the Africities agenda, such as high levels of urbanisation and migration, the urbanisation of poverty, and the disproportionate level of poverty and under development in African as well as developing countries worldwide.

Other topics that will be explored include: public transport, urban agriculture, informal trading, neighbourhood development, green buildings, parks and open spaces, and public safety in urban settings.

“The Africities Summit gives us a great platform to produce a document that will give clear guidance and direction for all local government to connect a vigorous understanding and appreciation of their strengths and abilities,” Mayor Tau said. “The document will provide a futuristic overview of African cities and map a model of how each city can attain their specific vision.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Tau said the City of Johannesburg felt privileged to host the Africities Summit.

“This event has developed into a premier showcase of tried and tested developmental innovations by local governments and cities of our continent. It also plays an increasingly important role in creating discourse, dialogue and debate on African cities.”

He said the theme was highly appropriate, especially considering the myriad challenges encountered by African countries at local government level. For African cities to survive and prosper in the 21st century, officials needed to work closely with their constituencies and tap into the African Union’s Vision 2063.

“We must send out a clear message that as African cities, regions and local authorities, we remain committed to serving our people by involving them in decision-making processes. This will ensure that as governments we are not disconnected from our people.”

The City will be hosting the summit in partnership with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, South African Local Government Association and South African Cities Network.

It is being organised by the UCLGA, an organisation that represents and defends the global interests of local government.