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Nairobi, 6 Dec 13

Kenya's Principal Secretary for Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ms. Mariamu El Maawy addressing the meeting. Picture by Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat
"Africa has risen and we must now put our money where our mouth is." This is the powerful message by Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Ghana’s minister for Local Government and Rural Development in his keynote address to the ‘Strengthening Partnerships for a new Africa Urban Agenda’ that kicked off in Nairobi on Wednesday.

A total of 110 delegates from 37 countries, including 21 orgnisations and 13 media organisations, attended the conference over three days at UN-Habitat’s headquarters in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

And to walk the talk, during the opening the minister announced his government’s contribution of USD 500,000 towards the urban agenda, earning a round of applause from the delegates gathered at the meeting. This prompted the UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos to offer gratitude to Ghana as well as the government of Nigeria which kick-started the process.

Mr. Akwasi Opong-Fosu, Ghana’s minister for Local Government and Rural Development addressing the meeting. Picture by Julius Mwelu/UN-Habitat
In his address, Mr. Fosu said that African urbanisation had reached a critical phase and it required concerted efforts from both state and non-state parties to address the challenges. Some very well thought out initiatives had failed on the continent in the past because they were conceived on the narrow perspective of governments only, locking out the citizens, he said.

The minister disclosed that Ghana was committed to addressing the challenges of rapid urbanisation adding that the president John Mahama was a leading champion of planned urbanisation not only in his country but in Africa as a whole.

"Early this year the president hosted Dr. Clos to discuss this issue and later during the UN General Assembly in New York in September the head of state hosted fellow African presidents to a breakfast to sell the idea to them," Mr. Fosu said.

In a speech read on her behalf by her Principal Secretary Mariamu El Maawy, Kenya’s Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Ms. Charity Ngilu said her country had developed a national urban policy to mitigate the effects of rapid urbanisation.

"Some of these measures include infrastructural development in urban areas, seeking ways of reducing electricity costs as well as slum upgrading programmes, " she said.

Nigeria’s overseeing minister of Federal Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Mr. Musa Sada talked of urban crisis which is mainly reflected in lack of adequate shelter, among other issues. He however stated that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan was tackling these issues effectively.

He said the head of state was a key supporter of a new African urban agenda hence his country’s financial support towards the initiative.

In his speech Dr. Clos challenged African countries to embrace the initiative and ensure that their urbanisation was well managed.

 
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