Bridging the financial gap

For economy of African cities to boom, strong partnership between the public and private sector is required 

By Antony mutunga

In a bid to enable cities to tap financial markets more effectively in order to fund their local infrastructure and development projects, a capacity building program was launched during the 9th Africities Summit held recently in Kisumu, Kenya.  

The new initiative, backed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and United Cities and Local Governments, a global umbrella group for local and metropolitan governments, will give city infrastructure the impetus to grow and expand to meet the demands of Africa’s rapidly urbanizing cities.

According to Alice Nabalamba, who is the Chief Urban Development Officer in the African Development Bank’s Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development Department, such capacity-building programs play a catalytic role in the long-term development of cities and turning municipalities into robust discussion partners for a broad range of funders

The program is expected to get underway in September 2022 and will attract 10 participants from municipalities. Financial officers who will get a chance to take part will matters learn finance, accounting, and debt and risk management skills to improve the creditworthiness of their cities. Participants will also have the opportunity to undertake site visits to African bourses, including the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Abidjan Stock Exchange.

Dr. François Paul Yatta, Director of Programs at United Cities and Local Governments Africa, says a number of municipalities are almost ready to access financial markets, which will dramatically improve their capacity in financing projects. 

Unfortunately, they don’t have a deep comprehensive understanding of how to start. It is because of the cluelessness that the low level of financial capacity in African municipalities was the subject of discussion during the summit. 

“Municipalities have to inspire confidence, build a positive and engaging narrative to capture the attention of both public and private finance,” said Hastings Chikoko, Managing Director for Africa at C40, a global network of mayors that partner with the African Development Bank.

During the conference, it became apparent that the initiative to build financial acumen of African cities might streamline public finance management in both national and community levels. A number of discussions revolved around the unveiling of the first component of its Sustainable Urban Development action plan, a blueprint for its interventions to reinforce subnational credit and municipal finance. Capacity building programs will have a positive impact and make African cities stand out in the world economy.  

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