Financing African Cities: REsolutions Africa Conference
  • December 16, 2014

Between 2010 and 2050, the number of the urban population in Africa will very likely more than triple, reaching about 1.3 billion people, hence translating into a 58% urbanization rate. Urbanization will only become an asset if African cities will be able to face the challenges of implementing coherent planning policies, improve the access to basic services, promote economic development and employment, and plan for climate change resilience.

In order, to take on these challenges and the funding they require, the involvement of all stakeholders, both public and private (local governments, people population, national or local public institutions and authorities, the private sector, banks and institutional/ private investors) is necessary.

Considering this background, the Marrakesh City Council, FMDV (Global Fund for Cities Development) and UCLG Africa (United Cities and Local Governments of Africa) organized the Resolutions Africa Conference, inviting African local and regional authorities and their partners to Marrakesh on December, 11th and 12th, to establish together a realistic strategy regarding cities’ financing opportunities and potential mechanisms, and identifying at the same time the current obstacles and deadlocks to access funding.

Almost 250 participants, representing the public and private sectors, explored the “urban development financing chain” during two days discussions around plenary sessions, side events, parallel sessions and a “Bank of Opportunity”.

Sharing UNCDF’s rich and longstanding experience in designing and pioneering innovative public and private financial systems, UNCDF’s Deputy Director of the Local Development Finance practice area, Ms. Christel Alvergne, participated in a number of events, moderating the Roundtable “Enhancing and mobilizing territorial endogenous resources for local development: Strengthening local autonomy and predictability”.

The exchanges at the conference showed that there are a large number of initiatives on the topics of urban development funding ongoing, though the discussion focuses on primary cities and in-city networks, circumventing the importance of the specific needs of LDCs, the financing of secondary centers, and hence, the required transfer systems between the national and local levels.

Furthermore, there remains a gap to address the broader dimension of relations between own revenue generation (fiscal potential, land revenue generation), financial credibility, access to domestic banks and access to financial markets. As Ms. Alvergne noted in her statement during the Conference’s Closing Ceremony, UNCDF, through its local finance focus, can fill this space, focusing on the design of specific financial tools for LDCs, and taking into account the LDCs’ specific realities – the informal economy, the geographical dimensions, the rural economy, employment opportunities for women and youth – building local capacity and supporting the countries from the very early stages of local development finance to the use of more sophisticated instruments.

The Declaration of the Marrakesh Conference 2014 includes the recommendation to create a financial vehicle dedicated to the development of African cities, called the African Cities Development Fund (ACDF). The recommendations will flow into the debates on the adoption of a Post 2015 New Development Agenda, and up until the United Nations’ Habitat III Summit in 2016.