Last Saturday, December 8, the 2012 Africities Summit ended in Dakar, Senegal, marked by the Final Declaration that stated:
"[The] contribution of local communities is essential for building Africa... The summit showed the ability to [mobilze] local officials inaugurating exchanges between African mayors and all regions of the world."
The 2012 Africities Summit was held in Dakar, Senegal from December 4 to 8. An Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA) team -- ODTA-ICT4Gov of the World Bank Insitute (WBI) -- participated in this largest gathering of local government officials and civil society practitioners from Africa. During the four-day summit, ODTA-ICT4Gov delivered two special sessions on ICT and social accountability to share lessons from ICT-mediated citizen participation approaches and, in particular, participatory budgeting.
Below, you will find the selected highlights from the ODTA-ICT4Gov team at the 2012 Africities Summit:
1. A session on participatory budgeting (PB), led by UCGLA, took place on December 5. Jules Dumas Ngeubou of World Bank Institute (WBI) Cameroon highlighted a number of advances in the PB process. In particular, a law that institutionalizes PB in the South Kivu Province of the Democratic Repulic of the Congo (DRC) was recently adopted.
This is a move that evolved from last year's decree that mandated PB as a condition for transfer of funds from the provincial government to local governments. Currently, even without World Bank presence, communities and local governments are independently holding town hall meetings, deciding together on budget priorities and turning those decisions into reality.
2. On December 6, the Open Development Technology Alliance (ODTA-ICT4Gov) team and our partners delivered a session on "ICT and Local Governance: Making use of ICT for citizen participation and improving access to basic social services in African municipalities."T
The challenges related to the linkages between ICT and local governance were one of the highlights of this session, which was attended by over a hundred participants. The panel discussed inclusiveness as an indicator of legitimacy and how ICT could aid in the processes of inclusion. Another challenge is the cost of these processes. In the cases of Cameroon (see the graph below) and the DRC, participation significantly increased while costs for mobilization and information are reduced after ICT was introduced in participatory processes.
The ongoing ICT-mediated participatory budgeting process in Yaoundé 6 has involved 45,000 citizens, a notable increase compared to previous PB practices not mediated by ICT.
3. A partnership agreement between local government representatives from Cameroon and Brazil was signed to pursue South-South Knowledge Exchange (SSKE) on ICT-enabled participatory budgeting between the two countries.
The signing ceremony started with presentations of participatory budgeting experiences in Argentina, Brazil (Porto Alegre), and Cameroon (Yaoundé 5). It was followed by the the beginning of exchanges between local councils of Latin America and Africa. The partnership, which specifically concerned the cities of Porto Alegre and Yaoundé 5, will facilitate exchanges of practices and resources. The ceremony was witnessed by local government representatives from both cities, the ambassador of Brazil to Senegal, experts from the summit's organizer, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA), and mayors and local council representatives of 26 African countries.
Yvette Etoundi (seated left), mayor of Yaoundé 5 and Mrs. Daniely Votto Fontoura (seated right), representative of Porto Alegre's local government, make the SSKE partnership official during the Africities Summit, witnessed by representatives of Africian and Brazilian governments, as well as ODTA-ICT4Gov.
This year sees the 6th edition of the summit, with 5,000 practitioners from around the world expected to participate. The summit is held every three years, organized by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA).