On February 6th 2017, the Advisory Board to the EU-funded initiative: “Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA)” held its first meeting in Accra – Ghana, to discuss the future development of the city-led bottom-up initiative and to identify synergies for joint actions. This event gathered nineteen participants from Africa and Europe with official board member status or as representatives of the United Cities and Local Governments Africa, the Global Secretariat for Climate and Energy, as well as local and national Ghanaian authorities.
The meeting took place in the Ghanaian capital city , where the central helpdesk office of CoM SSA will be hosted. In this light, Mr. Matthew Mensah Astrim, from the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG) opened and welcomed the gathering. He pledged the support of NALAG to the initiative and declared his commitment to propagate the CoM SSA initiative among all NALAG’s members.
The Chair of the Advisory Board, Mr. Felice Zaccheo, from the the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG-DEVCO), took his turn to highlight the necessity for city mobilization and cooperation on the fight against climate change.
With the same opinion, the representative of the Minister of the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) – Ms Salimata Abdul Salam, spoke further about the important role of cities and sub-national authorities in low-carbon and resilience transition. Ms Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development of Ghana also acknowledged the pivotal role of cities in climate action and gave credence to the importance of the CoM SSA initiative. She expressed interest in long-term exchanges between her ministry and CoM SSA in order to identify possible links with the existing urban policies in Ghana in the future.
The Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) – Mr Frédéric Vallier later underscored involvement of local leaders to the success of the European Covenant of Mayors. CEMR is a consortium partner of the CoM SSA project and in charge of the project coordination. Mr. Vallier then presented the Political Commitment Document which has been subjected to a wide consultation with African cities in 2016, that cities are invited to sign on a voluntary basis to join the CoM SSA initiative. The Advisory Board members welcomed the document.
The Board members further exchanged their views on the ways to engage, support and mobilize local actors in the implementation of the initiative taking limited financial and technical resources, and fast paced urbanization which are typical with African cities into consideration. They identified that, innovative and effective governance models will be needed to address the sustainable development of territories in their integrity ensuring the inclusiveness of urban, peri-urban, rural zones.
In a closing remark, Dr Cheikh Bedda, Director for Energy and Infrastructure Department of the African Union Commission, conveyed his confidence that participation of African cities in CoM SSA will grow in the next years and called for continual creation of synergies with initiatives working on the local level.
About the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan African Initiative
Starting in November 2015 over a four year period, the CoM SSA project holds the objective to increase the capacity of cities in Sub Saharan Africa to provide access to sufficient, sustainable and safe energy related services to their urban and peri-urban populations with focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. ICLEI is a key member of the consortium of partners that implements the CoM SSA project, where both the World Secretariat and the African Secretariat are engaged.
ICLEI leads on advocacy activities and activities aimed at developing an enabling institutional framework and improving local and national governance through vertical integration in the pilot cities/countries. ICLEI also networks strategically to enhance local ownership through local stakeholder engagements while building synergies with other initiatives of local, national and international descent.
Of the seven selected pilot cities, Dakar in Senegal and Tsevie in Togo are ICLEI members. The others include: Abomey (Benin), Bouake (Cote d’Ivoire), Kampala (Uganda), Lumumbashi (DR Congo)and Nouakchott (Mauritania). Three more will soon be officially confirmed as pilot cities.