ANALYSIS: How Cities Consortium Uganda Will Transform Uganda Cities into Preferable Communities
For decades, organizations and advocacy groups whose main focus is to provide access to health services and social economic needs to the most vulnerable populations in the community such as youth, women, children, adolescents and youth living with HIV/AIDS have mushroomed in Uganda, the pearl of Africa.
Even when the country was hit by the CoVID-19 Pandemic, several interventions from the civil society both within and outside the country were embarked on to empower the affected persons and communities to revive their economic environment. These NGOs have had a mission to create income generating projects for sustainable socio-economic development where unity and solidarity amongst communities allow the advancement of improved livelihoods.
In 2019, Uganda’s Cabinet approved the phased creation of 15 cities across the country. The cities were; Arua, Mbarara, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, Mbale, Masaka, Wakiso, Entebbe, Hoima, Lira, Moroto, Nakasongola, Soroti and Kabale. Backed by resolutions from respective District Councils, the Ministry of Local Government presented bills in Parliament seeking a phased creation of cities. On April 28, 2020, the Parliament of Uganda approved the creation of 15 cities, ten of which were launched and are now operational.
Despite the growing populations in both the native and secondary cities, not much has been done to advocate for the growth and empowerment of the new cities as the major solution to a number of challenges that come with Urbanization.
The good news however is that the formation of Cities Consortium, Uganda, whose vision is to transform Ugandan urban areas into Planned, inclusive, resilient and sustainable smart Cities underpinned by good governance will see the country have cities with preferable features.
Cities Consortium is a voluntary, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization registered in Uganda. It was formed following the enacting of the Parliamentary Act which created new cities in Uganda in 2020.
Speaking to our reporter, Hajji Majid Batambuze, the Executive Director Cities Consortium Uganda and former Mayor of Jinja said the principal goal of Cities Consortium is to support and facilitate the development of well planned, equitable, inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities in Uganda through lobbying and advocacy, education and training, research, provision of services and implementation of city development programs.
‘’Cities Consortium supports all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for peace, development and prosperity for all people and the Planet Earth, now and into the future. Our programs cut across and impact a number of SDGs. However, our founding vision, mission charter and overarching focus is on SDG 11. Our programs will ensure that all stakeholders benefit including; Cities of Uganda City Councils / Authorities, City inhabitants, Investors & Entrepreneurs, Urban Youth, Women, Refugees & marginalized communities’’, said Batambuze who was the first interim mayor for Jinja City.
Batambuze who is also the former Chairman of Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU) further noted that Cities Consortium whose core values are; Transparency, Equity and inclusiveness, Accountability, Gender equality and Integrity aims at supporting and facilitating the development of Uganda cities through advocacy and lobbying, education and training, research and surveys, provision of pertinent services and implementation of city-oriented programs.
Other impactful Programs of Cities Consortium -Uganda include; City Twinning Program, Urban Waste Management, Information Resource Center, Keep Your City Clean (KYCC), Investment & Business Opportunities, Climate Change Action, Greening & Beautifying Cities among others.
As a way of marketing cities, the Consortium also plans to hold various annual events including; Tour De City an event in any of the cities of Uganda. The host city shall be selected on a rotational basis. The objective is to promote cycling in the cities as an essential non-motorized form of transportation for all its attendant benefits. Other events are; Cities Run, Keep Your City Clean, Cities Expo & Symposium and City Football League.
According to world bank reports, between 2002 and 2010, Uganda’s urban population grew by 5.6%, almost twice as fast as the rural population. Going by global experience, urbanization is likely to accelerate with economic development. As a result, Kampala only is projected to become a mega-city of more than 10 million by 2040, and other Ugandan cities will also see a demographic explosion.
A fast-growing population without corresponding job growth and better planning is one of the challenges that comes with rapid urbanization, the update notes.
To make urban areas more productive and livable for the many people that are converging there, Cities Consortium advises that action must be taken now to address the challenges that Ugandan policy makers face today. Officials say Uganda has the opportunity to leverage urbanization to benefit a large proportion of the population.
‘’This calls for strategic intervention by stakeholders to address the current gaps and deficiencies in order to steer the development of the new cities and the capital city Kampala and its metropolitan area. The Cities Consortium was therefore born out of the pressing need to support the building of the new Uganda Cities and the regeneration of Kampala City and its Metropolitan Areas. Through research, education and training, provision of services and implementing city-oriented programs, Cities Consortium plays a much-needed role in supporting and facilitating the development of Uganda’s cities’’, added Batambuze.
Through engaging with Cities Consortium, cities have an opportunity to share and exchange knowledge with local and international counterparts, test new solutions, and build a greener, resilient and more prosperous future.
The pace of urbanization is picking up currently every year, and likely to accelerate with rising incomes.
At the other end, closer economic integration in East Africa will increase the reach of the country’s largest metropolis, but place it in direct competition with other metropolises in the region.
Batambuze says Policymakers both at the national and local levels need to see themselves as change managers who encourage flexibility in how Uganda’s towns and cities respond to emerging needs of business and households.
‘’Planning ahead is important, but not locking settlements into today’s market needs becomes even more important. What are policy priorities to harness economic and social aims from urbanization? We should have a framework for prioritizing and sequencing urbanization policies’’, noted Batambuze.
For effectiveness and sustainability at Cities Consortium -Uganda, Partnerships & Sponsorships are open to Government Authorities, Departments and Local Governments. They are also open to Private Commercial Entities, Civil Society Organizations, NGOs and Academic institutions.
According to UN Habitat, over 50% percent of the world’s population is now living in cities. By the year 2050, the global population is projected to grow to 10 billion people, and 70% of these people will live in cities. In Africa the rate of urbanization stands at about 30%. In Uganda, the level of urbanization stands at 20% and it is projected to grow at a rate of 5.2%per annum. The future of humanity is inevitably urban.
Partnerships, Sponsorships, Cooperation Agreements or Memorandum of Understandings are agreed on and signed to define areas of cooperation and parameters of engagement.