The pulse of Africa’s local and urban development is being taken in Marrakesh, Morocco where more than 5,000 participants have converged for the eighth summit of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (AFRICITIES) that runs from November 20-24, 2018. The participants represent stakeholders of Africa’s local life, their partners from other regions of the world: ministers in charge of local governments; ministers in charge of housing and urban development; ministers of public service; local authorities and local elected officials; officials of local and central administrations; civil society organizations, associations and trade unions; economic operators of the public and private sectors as well as of the social/ solidarity economy; traditional rulers; researchers and academics; and international cooperation agencies. The Marrakesh summit is holding on the theme, “The transition to Sustainable Cities and Territories; the Role of Local and Subnational Governments of Africa.” Cameroon’s pioneer Minister of Decentralisation and Local Development, George Elanga Obam is leading an impressive delegation to the summit that besides government officials is also composed of elected officials of local councils. The Marrakesh summit is one in a series of summits organised by the panAfrican body dedicated to facilitate development in cities and rural areas through local governments. Far from being a mere come together by local development stakeholders, the summit is a lieu par excellence for sharing of experiences and establishing development partnerships. It also offers a great opportunity for local elected officials such as Mayors like the case in Cameroon to get exposed to the world, acquire skills and knowledge on how to effectively pilot development in their municipalities. Acquiring new skills and knowledge only create an impact when they are transformed into concrete life-changing development projects on the field. The Cameroonian delegation to AFRICITIES Summit 2018 from every indication is on a daunting mission considering that the summit comes after the creation of the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development whose central role in piloting participative local development is clearly defined by President Paul Biya. The summit also comes roughly three weeks after President Paul Biya took the oath of office on November 6, 2018 marking the start of a new seven –year term of office. In his inaugural speech, he stressed on the key role of decentralization in the realisation of programmes in the new term of office placed under the banner of “Great Opportunities.” Upon return from Marrakesh, Cameroonians will expect to see a change through the sustainable management of the country’s cities and rural areas through the frontline role of the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Development and its external service which for now are City, Subdivisional and Local Councils. Cameroon’s local authorities, as well as the entire government are expected to have more financial and technical partners through new relations established during the AFRICITIES 2018 summit.
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