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From Regional to Local: Local Governments in Africa & the Middle East

Rudi Borrmann|

We are still excited by the energy and enthusiasm of the OGP Africa & the Middle East Regional Meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, the last of the three regional gatherings of the open government international community this year. Over 500 participants, 36 sessions, 121 speakers, and hundreds of civil society organizations were able to meet after the pandemic, showing a diverse variety of open gov actions that the region is undertaking 

There are three main takeaways from this meeting:

The Relevance of Cross-level Collaboration

Collaboration is more than necessary. Various laws at the national level have an impact on local jurisdictions – laws against corruption, access to information, and others. Many local jurisdictions depend on national budgets and use national procurement systems to do their work. At the same time, local contexts are key to national pilot initiatives and local governments can advise on more inclusive and participatory practices. 

This collaboration needs to have a strategic approach, a clear understanding of who is participating and how, what the role of civil society and other non-governmental actors is, whether parliaments and councils are involved, and how we measure the success of these interactions and projects. 

We heard examples and ideas on different forms of collaborations from several speakers such as Steph Muchai (International Lawyers Project), Gloria Ahmed (Nigeria National Secretariat), Timothy Kiprono (Open Governance Institute, Kenya), Rabie Khamlichi (Tanger-Tétouan-Al Hoceima Region, Morocco), and Fatiha Zanniby (General Directorate of Territorial Collectivities of the Ministry of Interior, Morocco). 

Regional Focus

Marrakech gave us the opportunity to convene several high-level representatives from local governments and civil society organizations for a high-level roundtable. Reformers highlighted the progress made to date in the Africa and the Middle East  region in local open government and addressed the need to strengthen regional cooperation to make local governments more open.

Reformers have leveraged civic participation, open data, and open procurement platforms in jurisdictions like Kaduna State (Nigeria), Elgeyo-Marakwet (Kenya), Sekondi-Takoradi (Ghana), Nandi County (Kenya), and El Kef (Tunisia) to mitigate corruption risks and improve service delivery. Local and regional governments also play a key role in peace, development, and socio-economic fields, and need to work together. 

The speakers for this dialogue included: Governor Malam Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna State, Nigeria), Deputy Governor Prof. Grace Jerotich Cheserek (Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kenya), Aziz Mahmoud, COST (Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana), Deputy Governor H.E Dr. Yulita Mitei (Nandi County, Kenya), President Amor Guidaoui (El Kef Municipality, Tunisia), Tayeb Mesbahi (Association des Régions du Maroc), Mr. Mehdi Berrakad, (UCLG Africa). 

Birth of a Network

Morocco is already working on developing a national network of local open governments, an exciting project that OGP Local will follow closely. It will build up on other ecosystems that we have seen in places like Mexico and Spain. 

Regional local leaders present at the OGP regional meeting also committed to adopting openness in action plans, and be catalysts across the region to promote open government values with other public institutions such as parliaments. The declaration also included other issues like the promotion of citizen participation, citizen engagement for improved service delivery, and cooperation across jurisdictions and government levels in the region.

These commitments will be accelerated through an Africa and the Middle East Regional Network for Local Open Government, which was launched at the regional meeting and will be led by Beni Mellal-Khenifra (Morocco) with the support from Elgeyo-Marakwet County (Kenya), and Kaduna State (Nigeria).

We will share updates about these exciting projects soon. You can always connect with the Africa & the Middle East community on our OGP Local Slack channel.

Comments (1)

David Wuyep Reply

I think 2022 was a good year for OGP Local. We look forward to an even better 2023. Well done to the Local Team, and Merry Christmas!🎅

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