Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), organiser of Africities, is pleased with the success of the event in an intermediate city.
Kisumu, in western Kenya, is hosting the 9th Africities Summit from May 17 to 21. The city, located on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 400km from the capital Nairobi, is hosting nearly 5,000 people to discuss “the role of Africa’s intermediate cities in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.”
Holding such an event is not an easy task, but United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) draws a positive note from the first three days of exchanges. “We took the gamble of organising Africities in an intermediate city where we have never been. We knew it would be difficult because very few intermediate cities can host an event that brings together 7000 to 8000 people. We have taken up this challenge,” Mbassi said.
In front of the press, who came from all over the continent, Mbassi explained that African cities are not limited to large agglomerations: “The reality of urbanization in Africa is 60 percent in small towns and intermediate cities. So, we had to draw the attention of leaders to the fact that urban transformation is not happening in Dakar, Banjul, Accra or Nairobi. It happens in intermediate cities like Kisumu. And we wanted to bring people here to see that. For that alone, we are satisfied.”
Africities is a large-scale meeting that takes at least 18 months to prepare. For everything to run smoothly, the Kenyan side has brilliantly played its part despite some apprehensions at the beginning of the process, the Secretary General said.
“We must magnify the goodwill of those who welcome us. Kisumu deserves our recognition. The authorities have mobilized many resources. The Kenyan government has been very collaborative. They had doubts when we said we wanted to go to Kisumu. They suggested Mombasa (2nd city of the country) as we did not want to come to Nairobi. With the choice of Kisumu, the local authorities feared a failure. In the end, everyone is happy,” said a delighted Mbassi.
The previous edition of Africities took place in November 2018 in Marrakech, Morocco. In Kisumu, the Association of Regions of Morocco and UCLG Africa signed an agreement to upgrade their respective teams, support advanced regionalization in the Cherifian Kingdom and share the Moroccan experience in decentralization.