Africities Summit: Day 1

Africities Summit: Day 1

President Uhuru Kenyatta has presided over the official opening of the 9th Africities Summit at the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium in Kisumu. Together with CS Eugene Wamalwa who has been on the frontline of organizing the Summit, emphasized the role of devolution in bringing resources down to our counties and turn them into engines of our social economic transformation of our country and counties.

“We’ve been to other capitals of Africa where we have held Africities and we are very grateful to UCLGA for giving us the opportunity as Kenya, as Kisumu. Kisumu is a city with great history. In Africa we have been looking at our capital cities. “

The President hailed leaders from different sectors of the economy to play their role in urbanization and challenges associated with rapid growth. “This noble goal is not a task solely for government, we also have members from among us from civil society organizations, and representatives of our African diaspora, economic actors, policy experts, researchers, academicians, financial institutions, as well as development partners.

These diverse actors all share in our objective or strengthening the role of local and regional governments in the development of our continent as well as accelerating the integration and unity of Africa by creating linkages between nations and cities.

I am particularly grateful to the leadership of the UCLG Africa for choosing Kisumu as a host city of this summit, the first intermediary city to host such a conference. Intermediary cities in Africa like Kisumu are home to approximately 174 million people in Africa who contribute about 40% of our continent’s GDP. For centuries, this port city of Kisumu has been an import center of different cultures, a hub for trade and a gateway to eastern and central Africa.

I do invite you into this continental moment of taking stock, and reflecting, learning, as well as planning under this year’s theme, “The Role of Intermediary Cities of Africa in the Implementation of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the African Union Agenda 2063”.”

A world class infrastructure is enshrined in the AU Agenda 2063. It is projected that by the year 2050, about 28 years from now, Africa’s population will hit 2 billion people. Well, over 50% of this population will be youth below the age of 18 and most of them are going to be living in cities. It is therefore obvious that we are out of time to have our cities and urban areas connected by road, rail, air, ICT, and waterways.”  — Rt Hon. Raila Odinga, AU High Representative for Infrastructure Development

Climate change has taken the day, as emphasized by Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission as John Kerry made similar calls for concerted efforts to combat climate change. “We are gathered here by the shores of Lake Victoria, which is both a trade route and water highway for cities beyond Kisumu it is also a reminder of the impacts of climate change. As you share experiences and take stock on how local governments can meet these aspirations let us embrace African solidarity that we brought with us from our villages.”

Governor Nyong’o, the host, in his welcome note, leaves delegates with the question, “To what extend can we confidently declare that we are on course in implementing the two agendas?”

Other keynote addresses were made by UN Habitat Executive Director Ms. Maimunah Sharif, and Christine Mba Ndutume, Mayor of Libreville, Governor James Ongwae of Kisii County as well as Lupita Nyong’o in a video link. For the first time ever, an intermediary city, Kisumu City is hosting the 9th Edition of Africities Summit until this Saturday 21st May.