The ninth Africities Summit opened Tuesday in western Kenyan city of Kisumu amid calls for concerted efforts to promote urban renewal in order to tackle poverty, diseases while strengthening the resilience of local communities.
In his opening remarks, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed that smart policies, innovative financing and partnerships were key to attain sustainable urbanization in Africa.
According to Kenyatta, Africa’s rapid urbanization should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, investors and multilateral lenders to roll out interventions that address pollution, unemployment and scarcity of basic amenities including water, sanitation and housing.
The five-day summit brought together more than 4,000 delegates including former heads of state and government, local government ministers, city mayors, researchers and entrepreneurs.
Held under the theme of “The role of intermediary cities of Africa in the implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063”, the summit is expected to come up with a new roadmap for hastening urban renewal in the continent.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of African Union Commission said that implementation of a new urban agenda for the continent had gathered steam, in line with the quest for socio-economic transformation and climate resilience.
Mahamat said that new investments were required to make Africa’s rapidly growing cities livable, green, safe besides turning them into epicenters of enterprise and innovation.
While acknowledging that Africa’s intermediary cities were growing fast, Mahamat urged governments and industry to channel additional resources towards expanding access to shelter, clean water, sanitation and health.
On her part, the executive director of the UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), Maimuna Mohd Sharif said that realizing urban renewal in Africa was possible, subject to investments in clean mobility, sustainable waste management and renewable energy.
Sharif added that policy reforms, improved governance, community engagement and investments in new technologies and innovations was key to renewing Africa’s metropolises, already grappling with climate emergencies, pollution, unemployment and crime.
Held after a three-year cycle on rotational basis, the Africities Summit aims to spark high-level dialogue on strategies that should be adopted to revitalize the continent’s urban agenda.
Africities is a Pan-Africa conference that is convened by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLG-A) and brings together the leadership of cities and sub-national governments and their associations for the advancement of decentralization and local governance aimed at improving the living standards of the citizens.
Africities Summits have been held every three years since 1998 with the first meeting held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.