Every three years, representatives of local authorities and local governments across Africa hold a summit to discuss how they can better serve the 350 million people who live in their communities.
The fifth Africités summit has been just taken place in Marrakech, Morocco a chance for those managers to network and share their experiences and concerns.
Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of CGLUA (Cités et Gouvernements Locaux Unis d’Afrique) said: “When the World Bank and the IMF visit, they only know a couple of things about a country, they know where the Finance Ministry is, because that’s where we deal with the balance of payments, and the port because that’s where the trade balance is managed. When the administration has spent the last 20 years expecting answers from the World Bank and the IMF, it’s not surprising they’re not interested in the whole capital city, but just in this little area where the Finance Ministry is located and the port, if there is one. So we need to rebuild our countries on a foundation of local organisations.”
The summit’s organisers, the Belgian NGO Echos Communication, handed out its Harubuntu prizes, recognising ‘Creators of Hope and Wealth.’
François Milis, who heads Echos Communication, explained the idea behind Harubuntu which means “there is value in this place” in the Kirundi language.
“It’s a way of highlighting those who create prosperity and hope in Africa, so that they can serve as examples for other Africans and also change Africa’s image a bit, making it more positive and less stereotyped in European eyes.”
Mostafa Maataoui is mayor of the municipality of Sidi Bouhmedi in Morocco.
This previously rundown settlement now has roads, electricity and a clean water supply thanks to his efforts.
He said: “The drinking water can be used to supply people’s homes and the well water that they drank before, that can now be used to produce food. It’s our small response to the crisis and also an attempt to develop production for the slow food market by producing natural organic food.”
Another Harubuntu winner, Serge Vyisinubusa is a true entrepreneur.
He has built a dam in Burundi which feeds a mini hydro-electric power station and he told euronews he has bigger plans: “The government of Burundi, called me and I set up a private company, with Chinese and Burundi engineers. We’re working on studies to see where we can modify wells. We have just finished a study on setting up seven mini power plants to be built next year. That is where it’s technically feasible in my country or around the African sub continent. There’s a real need for electricity in Africa and enormous potential.”
At the end of the summit, euronews reporter Philippe Mathieu concluded: “Initiatives like those highlighted at this summit, local projects, are part of a much bigger picture, of a new Africa, an Africa focusing on people.”