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Marrakech, Morocco, 18 Dec 09

Mr. A. Badiane addresses the Africities summit. Photo © UN-HABITAT

His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, this week opened the fifth session of the African cities summit at a glittering ceremony attended by high ranking figures from around the continent.

Addressing the opening on Wednesday, His Majesty said: “Morocco, which is deeply committed to the principles of African brotherhood, solidarity and unity is looking forward to sharing its expertise and know-how with African sister countries on how to respond to urban development needs and how to meet the challenge of integrated rural development.”

The theme of the meeting this year is, African Regional and Local Governments’ Response to the Global crisis: promotion sustainable local development and employment.

Jerry John Rawlings, former president of the Republic of Ghana, called on the meeting to reflect on the impacts of the global financial crises on Africa and to explore ways of finding solutions.

“Globalisation by every stretch of imagination has some great advantages,” he said. “Unfortunately it is clear Africa has not benefited from its noted positives and has instead become rather over-dependent on the developed world, much to detriment of the suffering masses.

“Africa has been vulnerable for a number of reasons. The first is the lack of national tenacity, accountability and a spirit of patriotic fervour. Africa has been unable to stay united and assertive because a good number of us in leadership positions, rather than uphold ideals that protect the sovereignty of our countries, have fallen to the dictates of our colonial and development partners and of late through their multinational organizations which come in with promises of employment, capital and infrastructural development,” he said.

Mr. Rawlings said that corruption was a major drawback to any development process, that Africa embraces, and invited the participants to work together towards creating of greater accountability and inclusiveness.

“Local government today,” he said, “has the potential to deliver on development that satisfies the basic needs and human rights of the people of the developing world, thereby helping to confront the globalization crisis. It has the potential to contribute to the prevention of conflicts related to the demands for good and participatory governance”.

Among other high-level personalities, who addressed the audience were Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, Vice-Prime Minister of Kenya and Minster of Local Government; Hon. Grace Ekpiwhere, Nigerian Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development and Chair of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD); and Hon. Marafa Yaya, Cameroonian Minister of State, President of the African Ministerial Conference of Decentralization (AMCHOD). For further details, click here.

UN-HABITAT also arranged a series of roundtables on climate change and the engagement of women and youth. For details on the youth meeting click here.

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