On 17 June 2013, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), together with UNDP and Stanbic Bank, co-sponsored a national conference on Local Economic Development hosted by the Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA). The conference was convened under the theme “Renewing Local Government Development and Growth: Networks and Partnerships for Local Economic Development, a Turn Key Strategy”. The conference was attended by members of the national Parliament, chairpersons of District Councils, Chief Administrative Officers, representatives of sector ministries and non-government organisations.
Opening the conference, Minister of Local Government of Uganda Hon. Adolf Mwesige emphasized the importance of local economic development, which is a national policy objective in its own right. “The need to create a mind-shift for local government managers is an imperative,” stressed the Minister. “Local Governments need to build effective Public-Private Partnerships, strengthen inter-government relationship and develop new forms of civic engagement.”
The Minister praised the long-term cooperation between the Government of Uganda and UNCDF, appreciating the UNCDF support to a number of government programmes promoting LED, including the District Development Programme (DDPIII) and, most recently, the Local Finance Initiative (LFI). The Minister emphasised the innovative nature of LFI as a valuable approach to enhancing the existing value chains by leveraging private investments in local economies.
Together with Stanbic Bank and Friends Consult Ltd., a local financial advisory firm, UNCDF facilitated a special session on Financial Strategies and Initiatives for LED during the Conference. The session discussed the roles of local governments in creating a business-friendly environment, mobilising private savings for LED, promoting and nurturing the local private sector, particularly emerging enterprises. The role of commercial banks and micro-finance institutions in LED was also discussed. In particular, the participants shared their ideas about how to connect individual and group saving/investment schemes to commercial banks to improve economies of scale and achieve a greater impact at the local level. The conclusions and recommendations of the sessions will be submitted to the Ministry of Local Government and other relevant government agencies to inform their future plans and activities.