Africa’s cities are vibrant centres of innovation, business growth, and social inclusion, which can drive significant GDP growth across the continent. They are also home to some of the world’s largest slums, suffer from inadequate infrastructure and lack of opportunity.
The 2015 Ibrahim Forum, dedicated to “African Urban Dynamics” brought together politicians, policy makers, business leaders and civil society representatives from Africa and Africa’s international partners to explore those countervailing forces.
Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation which established the Forum in 2010, opened the session by noting that cities are incubators for finding innovative solutions to some of the biggest problems facing Africa, around the environment, development, food security and other issues.
Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Hanna Tetteh noted that the great cities of Africa like Lagos, Johannesburg, Nairobi or Accra, also face some of the greatest challenges. And it is important to be honest about those challenges.
Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, noted that 24 cities represent 44 percent of GDP in Africa. So how those cities deal with sanitation, health, power and the effects of increased populations will have an amplified impact on the continent.
Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director, Greenpeace International, said that dealing with these issues was urgent, and that the current state of urban Africa was creating a potentially volatile situation.
Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation, said that inefficiency in government feed economic inefficiency and added to urban struggles. As an example, she noted that 54 percent of people on the electricity grid in Lagos also have generators, doubling their real energy cost, and all based on their distrust of the local government’s ability to guarantee a supply.
Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa, challenged her fellow mayors to always include a social development strategy alongside plans for business development because, “They are two sides of the same coin.”
Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, noted that the influx of people from rural areas was making every inch of an African city a place of commerce or of living.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was established in 2006 with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa. By providing tools to support progress in leadership and governance, the Foundation aims to promote meaningful change on the continent.
The Ibrahim Forum is its annual high-level discussion forum tackling issues of critical importance to Africa. Previous Forums have dealt with Africa in the next 50 years (2013), Youth (2012), Agriculture (2011) and Regional Economic Integration (2010).
In addition to the Ibrahim Forum, the Foundation releases the annual Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which has become an important policy tool used in African and global finance and government circles; the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which was presented earlier in the Governance Weekend, to former Namibian president Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba at a music-filled ceremony Friday night (20 November); and the Ibrahim Fellowships and Scholarships program, which places promising young African leaders in high-profile agencies.
The Foundation also finds ways to reach new audiences with its message.
A concert of African musicians drew some 40-thousand people to Independence Square that evening (21 November). International superstars Angelique Kidjo from Benin and Youssou N’Dour from Senegal, who was
once called “the most famous musician in Africa”, headlined along with younger artists Stonebwoy and Sarkodie, two of the hottest rising stars in Africa, both BET Awards winners and both from Ghana.
The weekend ended on Sunday 22 November with the Governance Cup, a football match sponsored by the Foundation between a “Dream Team” of Ghana All-Stars and African Club Champions TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo, owned by former governor of Katanga Province Moise Katumbi. He underscored the Foundation’s goal of introducing governance issues to young people and the general public through popular culture and sports. Ghanaian President John Mahamba agreed, saying, “In Ghana we say we have two passions: politics and soccer. So I guess you can tell that Ghanaians are very happy about this football match.”
Though the Ghanaians had several opportunities, TP Mazembe won the friendly match, 3-1.
Shows: Accra, Ghana (21 November 2015)
1. Various shots of the International Conference Centre in Accra
2. Various shots of audience
3. Mo Ibrahim Foundation Founder and Chairman, Mo Ibrahim saying, “Cities are rising now as a key element in the world order. Their GDP is huge. And mayors have proved they can be more efficient, more effective than governments. If you watch what happens in some of the major cities in the world and see how they are far ahead of their governments in implementing really key issues when it comes to climate, to development, innovative solutions are coming from cities. That is really important for us.”
4. Ghana Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Hanna Tetteh saying, “Cities are some of the most dynamic spaces in our continent. When you look at cities like Lagos, like Abuja, like Johannesburg, like Cape Town, like Nairobi, like Abidjan, like my city of Accra, immediately when you the names of these cities come to mind you think of vibrant spaces. And you think of energy and entrepreneurship, the promise that Africa shows coming out of these spaces. But at the same time, in these cities we also have some of the biggest slums, which are growing at wonderful rates. And at the same time, we also have to deal with our fair share of challenges.”
5. Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, saying, “You have a situation where today, 24 cities account for 44 percent of the GDP in Africa, so what we do with cities is important. So how we light up cities is important. How we feed cities is important. The kind of infrastructure, the water health and sanitation that we get for cities are very important. And how we deal with the pattern if migration into the cities will determine the extent to which the cities themselves can become more resilient going forward.
6. Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director, Greenpeace International, saying, “We need to recognise that as we sit here right now, that without any further migration into our cities that our cities are actually tinder boxes and powder kegs waiting to explode.”
7. Vera Songwe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa, International Finance Corporation, saying, “If we can build that public space of trust, then we can begin to change. Let me give you a concrete example. In Nigeria today, 54 percent of the eight million people who are connected to electricity in Lagos have generators. That is a sign that they don’t trust the government. They know that when they wake up in the morning they won’t have electricity. So what do they do? They double the price of energy a buy a generator.”
8. Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town, South Africa, saying, “And where are we now in Africa? Africa is on the rise. And we must rise as African leaders and design a template, a new template, how to adapt existing cities so that they can fit into and deal with urbanization, So you have to have an economic growth strategy for your city, you need to have a social development strategy for your city because economic development and social development are two sides of the same coin.”
9. Khalifa Sall, Mayor of Dakar, Senegal, saying (French), “The problem we have in African cities is that public space is not just for vehicles. It is for the public. And the public is real people. That’s the first thing we have to realise. And in African cities, rural migration is transforming every public space into a place of commerce or of living.”
10. Various shots of crowds at Independence Square
11. Angelique Kidjo performing
12. Sarkodie performing
13. Stonebwoy performing
14. Youssou N’Dour performing
(22 November 2015)
15. Various shots of Ghana National Stadium
16. Crowds arriving
17. TP Mazembe owner Moise Katumbi saying (French), “You know it is for good governance in Africa above all democracy. The Ibrahim Forum this time was about the economics and politics of urbanism. So the players participate in this as well. People will come to the match as well to see Mazembe. So it is a way to communicate as with all the people of Africa.”
18. TP Mazembe team going onto the field
19. Ghana President John Mohamba arriving with Mo Ibrahim
20. Mohamba saying, “In Ghana we say we have two passions: politics and soccer. So I guess you can tell that Ghanaians are very happy about this football match.”
21. Crowd shots
22. Ghana has some near misses
23. TP Mazembe’s Daniel Nii Adjei scores the first goal
24. TP Mazembe’s Meschak Elia scores their second goal
25. Ghana Dream Team player Godfred Saka scores the team’s only goal
26. Mo Ibrahim presenting the Governance Cup
27. TP Mazembe team members holding the Governance Cup