Daily Archives: December 2, 2015

Applications Open for TRACE Scholar Program; Georgetown University Joins University of Washington and King’s College, Cambridge; TeliaSonera Funds Additional Scholar

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland, Dec. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — TRACE International, the globally recognized anti-bribery business association, invites applications for its prestigious TRACE Scholar Program, which fully funds students from developing countries to pursue an LLM focused on advancing commercial transparency and raising anti-bribery compliance standards. Fellowship recipients spend an academic year at one of three universities […]

Minister Mr Pravin Gordhan: Official opening of the political sessions of the 2015 Africities Summit

Ministers,

Deputy Ministers,

Mayors,

UCLGA office-bearers,

SALGA leadership,

Distinguished guests,

Good morning.

The time has come to transform local government in Africa. The 7th edition of the Africities Summit takes place at an important time in our development trajectory. Africa has adopted Agenda 2063, subtitled “The Africa We Want” which defines an African vision for the structural transformation of Africa based on the key elements of drastic reduction of poverty, equitable growth and inclusive wealth.

The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the 21st Conference of the Parties and the upcoming Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Urban Development, commonly known as Habitat 3 will also influence our agenda.

In South Africa we have adopted the Back to Basics programme based on the five pillars of delivering basic services, good governance, public participation, sound financial management, and building institutional capacity to ensure that local government changes the lives of people.

All these agendas are aimed at dealing with the challenges of poverty, increasing inequality, high unemployment and underemployment levels, particularly within our young population. They are further aligned to Agenda 2063, which aspires for cities and other human settlements to become “hubs of cultural and economic activities, with modernized infrastructure, and people have access to all the basic necessities of life including shelter, water, sanitation, energy, public transport and ICT”.

Broadly, development parameters have been set. The key challenge for us is not only about what to do, but also about how to do it. Time has come to transform local government in Africa. Some of the things we need to urgently do include:

Empower local government to undertake key functions: Too much centralisation constrains capable municipalities ability to plan and deliver in an integrated and sustainable manner. This means giving local government original constitutional powers or equivalent as opposed to having that determined on an ad hoc basis by other levels of government. It also means making sure that local government has sufficient financial resources to deliver on its mandate.

Ensure sufficient capacity in local government: I should, however, caution that while decentralisation is a fundamental tool for empowering local authorities, its success is dependent on the ability of local government itself to carry out the mandate. The role of political office bearers, supported by a capable administration is key.

Strengthening collaborative planning and integrated delivery between the various levels of government: This can only be achieved if various levels acknowledge that they are not autonomous, and plan in a collaborative manner and properly sequence the delivery of infrastructure and other services.

Get the basics right: Local government should not neglect the basic things critical to ensure that it functions effectively and efficiently. For example, in South Africa, our assessment of local government in 2014 found that the unsatisfactory performance of local government was not due to lack of decentralisation or financial resources, but primarily due to a neglect of systems and processes required to run an effective municipality.

For example, by simply ensuring that there is reliable water provision, roads are in a good condition, quick turnaround times on building applications, and other everyday necessities, you are able to promote economic development.

A strong political will and good governance. We must confront our challenges and act together with urgency. The 2014 MasterCard African Cities Growth Index identifies 6 key lagging indicators related to governance affecting the performance of African cities namely (i) Political Stability and Absence of violence, (ii) Voice and accountability, (iii) Government Effectiveness, (iv) Rule of law; (v) Regulatory Quality and (vi) control of corruption. Although the study focussed on cities, these indicators are also applicable to any area. Good governance is key for restoring public confidence in political office bearers and government as a whole.

Invest in community engagement: This is an important, yet often neglected area. The theme “Shaping the future of Africa with the people: the contribution of African local authorities to Agenda 2063 of the African Union” emphasises this point. This is a key instrument for ensuring that people are the centre of development, and that our interventions are responsive. We should therefore create an enabling environment for citizens to participate and shape their spaces.

Invest in service delivery and institutional systems to promote social and economic development: An article published by Mary Plunkett titled “The Poorest Cities in the World”, all the 10 poorest cities in the world are in Africa, and are capitals of sub-Saharan African nations. According to the article, these cities are expanding rapidly, while lacking the most rudimentary of supplies; clean water, transportation and overcrowding are key issues.

Strengthen partnership between our countries and cities to learn and exchange knowledge and practices in pursuance of integrated urban development: The point often not stressed enough is that despite lower percentages (40%), Africa, which has more than 400 million urban dwellers, has the second highest number of urban dwellers after Asia. We therefore need to work together on areas such as urban policies, city development strategies, share innovations on urban planning and management and others to promote inclusive and sustainable urbanisation.

In conclusion, the role of local government in effecting meaningful change in the life of the ordinary citizens is incontestable. Its success is however dependent on the level of collaboration with other levels of government.

It is therefore important that as Ministers and Mayors gathered here, we explore concrete way of strengthening mechanisms for collaborative planning and delivery. This must be underpinned by a strong governance ethos that will build the confidence of our communities and other stakeholders.

Time has come to transform local government in Africa.

I thank you.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS

FOCAC to boost China- Africa relations

Pretoria: The upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, which starts on Friday in Sandton, will be a milestone and historic event which will usher in a new era for development of China-Africa relations.Government says the summit will a...

SA rolls out red carpet for President Xi

Pretoria: South Africa has rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Union Buildings in Pretoria where he is meeting President Jacob Zuma.

President Xi is on a state visit to the country ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit which starts on Friday.

President Zuma and President Xi appeared at the steps of the historic building for a procession. The Union Buildings has been draped with the Chinese and South African national flags.

A brass band gave renditions of both countries' anthems while the Heads of State stood facing them in the scorching afternoon sun.

The traditional 21-gun salute, reserved for Heads of State, and a guard of honour then followed as a beaming President Zuma welcomed President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan to the seat of government.

Following the renditions of the anthems, the two leaders went inside for a tete-a-tete meeting.

The two leaders are expected to discuss increasing marine cooperation‚ infrastructure development and human resources cooperation.

Pretoria has indicated that it will also present a project book to China which includes key sectors within the priority areas, which are among others, energy, infrastructure, industrialisation and agriculture.

President Zuma and President Xi are expected to brief the media after the meeting which will see a large number of agreements being signed from government, state owned enterprises and the private sector in various fields of collaboration between the two countries.

Total trade between South Africa and China experienced an upward trajectory since 2009, growing from R118 billion to R271 billion by the end of 2013.

While there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, both countries have implemented various mechanisms to address these discrepancies.

These mechanisms include the Inter-Ministerial Joint Working Group, RSA-PRC Bi-National Commission, Five-to-Ten Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation and the Strategic Dialogue.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS