Assessing the Institutional Environment of Local Governments in Africa

UCLG Africa Report


Africa’s cities are growing at an unprecedented rate, over 3% per year on average, and local governments are expected to play a crucial role in the urbanization process. United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) and Cities Alliance proposed an assessment of the institutional environment of local governments in Africa. The report analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the institutional framework set for each African country to promote local governance and suggest ways to increase effectiveness in urban management.

Africa has already passed the 40% urban threshold, and nearly one out of every two Africans now lives in an urban area. Experts estimate that the rate of urban growth in Africa will be double over the next 20 years. However, few countries have developed strategies to cope with the rapid urbanization. African governments need to establish an environment conductive to the initiative and provide an assessment for effective management of urbanization.

The joint initiative assesses the city enabling environment in 50 African countries according to the following 10 criteria:

  1. Constitutional framework
  2. Legislative framework
  3. Local democracy
  4. Financial transfers from the central government to the local authorities
  5. Local authorities’ own revenues
  6. Capacity building for local government administrations
  7. Transparency
  8. Citizen participation
  9. Local government performance
  10. Urban Strategy

These criteria cover five areas: local governance, local capacity, financial autonomy, local efficiency, and the national institutional framework. These five areas are important because they cover the essential elements of a city’s institutional environment within the context of decentralization and democracy.

The assessment adopts a qualitative approach by assessing countries on a scale from 1 (least effective) to 4 (most effective) in 10 criteria. The rating results are expressed by classifying the countries into 4 colors.

  1. Green (scores 30-40 ) : countries with the most favorable environments for the action of cities and local authorities
  2. Yellow (scores 25-29) : countries whose environment is rather favorable, but where some improvements are needed
  3. Orange (scores 20-24) : countries whose progress would require major reform efforts
  4. Red (scores 0 -19) : countries whose environment is generally unfavorable to the action of cities and local authorities

Out of 50 African countries, 3 countries are categorized in Green, 4 countries in Yellow, 25 in Orange, and 18 in Red. The highest score is 33 of South Africa. Other two green countries are Uganda: 31 and Morocco: 30. The lowest score is 11 of Liberia. Other 5 countries with the score under 15 are Comoros: 12, Somalia: 12, Sudan: 12, Central African Republic: 13, and Guinea-Bissau: 14.

This publication was announced on October 3rd during UCLG’s world summit in Rabat. In keeping with the fast-changing cities enabling environment, the report is expected to be published on an ongoing basis every two to three years.

You can download the report from here.

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