Tag Archives: local governance

A Different Kind of ‘Smart’ City

mathare-slum

Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya — one of the biggest in Africa. (Photo: IRIN)

Naledi Modisaatsone is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Urban Institute

The concept of “smart cities” has become synonymous with developed countries. When people talk about smart cities they often mean high-tech urban innovators in North America, Western Europe or East Asia. Africa is not featured on the list.

This situation, however, has been changing following the recognition that smart city thinking is not necessarily about being high tech, but rather about cities that efficiently drive sustainable economic growth, competitiveness, prosperity and a better life for their citizens.

A report by Deloitte  defines a smart city as “when investments in human and social capital, traditional (transport) and modern information and communications technology ICT infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources”. In that way Africa is right at the heart of the conversation.

The UN Habitat Global Activities Report 2013 states that in 2009, Africa’s total population for the first time exceeded one billion of which 395 million (or almost 40 per cent) lived in urban areas. Around 2027, Africa’s demographic growth will start to slow down and it will take 24 years to add the next 500 million, reaching the two billion mark around 2050, of which about 60 per cent will be living in cities. Africa should prepare for a total population increase of about 60 per cent between 2010 and 2050, with the urban population tripling to 1.23 billion during this period.

These demographic shifts will present policy makers in Africa with unprecedented challenges in handling of urbanization given that infrastructure networks and public services are already overwhelmed.  African cities wishing to uplift their populations into the 21st century are going to have to start focusing today on what the city of tomorrow will look like.

How will  Africa position its cities as drivers of sustainable growth using technology?

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Is Local Government in Libya the Solution?

Heavily armed vehicles belonging to the military council of the self-declared autonomous region of Cyrenaica, which are deployed to protect oil ports, drive past at a checkpoint, near the east of the city of Sirte March 14, 2014. Former Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan has fled to Europe after parliament voted him out of office on Tuesday over his failure to stop rebels exporting oil independently in a brazen challenge to the nation's fragile unity. The standoff over control of oil exports threatens to deepen dangerous regional and tribal faultlines in Libya where rival militias with powerbases in the east and west back competing political factions in the transitional government. Picture taken March 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS ENERGY) - RTR3H6EP

Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). This post also appeared on The Atlantic Council blog.

As Libya faces numerous challenges with the existence of federalists and militia groups, the question of decentralization grows in urgency. Libyans need to bolster local government in an effort to leave their past behind and meet their everyday needs, but lack the adequate legal and constitutional framework to ensure better governance. As Libya struggles to fill the remaining seats in the Constitutional Committee, it must also consider the language it plans to adopt to protect the decentralization process.

The move towards local governance emerged during the 2011 revolution when local councils arose to handle city affairs, an arrangement that continues today. Libyans welcomed the change. With the former regime centralized in Tripoli, citizens traveled inordinate distances from all over the country to complete tasks that they could have handled in their own cities, including basic bureaucratic services like stamps and signatures that could easily have been provided in other cities.

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Helping Afghanistan’s Provincial Councils Fight Corruption and Improve Governance

Kunar PC 2 Jan 22 2014

To improve local governance in Afghanistan, CIPE conducts training seminars for the Provincial Councils in Afghanistan on democratic governance and market economics, including topics like advocacy, corruption, and the informal economy. Using the knowledge gained from the seminars, many of the Provincial Councils have taken on issues affecting their communities.

CIPE recently discussed the efforts of the Kunar Provincial Council with Chairperson Haji Mia Hassan. After discussing corruption issues with local government officials, the Kunar Provincial Council filed corruption cases against several officials with the prosecutor’s office, including the director of the Customs Department and the Director of Haj and Endowments.

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Decentralization for Better Public Services in Lebanon

decentralization-lebanon

The executive director of  Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), Sami Atallah, was recently on MTV, a Lebanese independent media channel, to discuss the importance of decentralization and local governance. During the interview, Atallah argued that instead of relying on the central government, the public should advocate for and expect their local municipalities to deliver goods and services.  CIPE is supporting LCPS to help achieve this objective, including strengthening the internal grant transfer system in Lebanon.

Watch Atallah’s interview (in Arabic) from 29:40 onward.

Closing the Implementation Gap

In every country, sound laws are a key foundation of democratic governance and economic development. Crafting such laws, however, is only part of the path to success. The other half is making sure that the laws are properly implemented – which is often more challenging.

When laws and regulations are not properly adopted, such discrepancy creates an implementation gap – the difference between laws on the books and how they function in practice. This gap can have very negative consequences for democratic governance and the economic prospects of countries and communities. When laws are not properly implemented, that undermines the credibility of government officials, fuels corruption, and presents serious challenges for business, which in turn hampers economic growth.

This is especially true at the local level.  Implementation gaps are particularly visible and often most painfully felt at the local level, where poor governance and weak administration of laws have the greatest impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens.

To help better understand why implementation gaps happen and how they can be addressed CIPE and Global Integrity launched a new guidebook, Improving Public Governance: Closing the Implementation Gap Between Law and Practice. The guidebook is based on extensive experience from both organizations’ work with local partners around the world on advancing accountable, transparent, and honest public governance and business environments.

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Looking for local governance stories

A local district council office in Kerala State, India. (Photo: Jason Diceman via Flickr)

Do you know of a well-intentioned legal framework in your country that seeks to increase accountability, achieve greater representation or encourage efficient service delivery, but lacks effective enforcement by local governments?

Are you familiar with local government practices that contradict laws on the books?

Do you know of civil society organizations, including business associations, conducting policy advocacy campaigns for ensuring effective enforcement of the laws or leading other efforts to improve local governance?

Do you have a knack for writing and for producing investigative economic journalism pieces?

If you answered yes to any of those questions and are a talented journalist or practitioner, CIPE and Global Integrity invite you to share with us your local governance stories. We are interested in stories focused on the role of both non-governmental actors and governments in promoting better enforcement of laws and regulations on the books.

Your story could describe, for example, how or why local governments fail to implement laws or regulations that reduce cumbersome business procedures, and how that under-performance affects entrepreneurs. Your story could also describe efforts by non-governmental organizations to identify public procurement practices at the city or municipal level that diverge from legal mandates, thereby increasing the risk of corruption. Your story could describe a policy advocacy campaign led by a civil society organization to ensure that laws are effectively enforced.

Local governance should be the focus of your story. It is in cities and municipalities where citizens have their first and closest interaction with government officials. Similarly, local governments tend to be responsible for the provision of services, infrastructure, quality of life, and other forms of support that both local and foreign-owned firms need to effectively participate in the market. As a result, well-governed cities and municipalities that enforce laws effectively create growth opportunities for business and geographical areas that increase productivity. Businesses that grow thanks to productivity gains stemming from well-governed local governments help create jobs and growth, while also alleviating poverty.

Your story should be no more than 1,000 words. Selected stories will be incorporated into a local governance publication that CIPE and Global Integrity are planning to publish. Authors will be compensated if their stories make it into the publication. Please visit Global Integrity’s Blog to learn more about this call for stories and how to submit your contribution.

Sustainable Development is Possible in Yemen

A street market in Yemen. (photo: CIPE)

A street market in Yemen. (photo: CIPE)

Now that Yemen is front and center in the minds of U.S. national security experts and the American public alike, it’s time for a serious reassessment of our military and development assistance to the poorest nation in the Middle East. U.S. assistance strategy in Yemen should take into consideration the wide range of factors that threaten Yemen’s already tenuous political and economic stability.

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