Rising urbanization across the world is a trend we cannot ignore.
In Africa alone, over the next 20 years, cities must be prepared to accommodate
more than 300 million new people moving from rural areas into cities. Yet many
cities face challenges in modernizing their aging infrastructures to meet the
needs of the growing number of citizens moving into cities in search of greater
economic opportunities. In addition, many cities do not have the resources or
the voice to articulate their demand to national governments on issues
important to their citizens. At United Cites and Local Governments, we unite
more than 1,000 cities across 95 countries to raise awareness of critical
issues facing cities and local governments, regardless of the size of the
communities they serve. Furthermore, UCLG
Africa (UCLG A) represents 40 national associations of governments across
Africa, in addition to 2,000 cities, with the goal of building unity and
collaboration across local city governments.
Technology is playing a more prevalent role in how we think about
solutions for challenges facing cities and their governments. Through
collaborative efforts, I believe innovative technology solutions can advance
cities’ infrastructures and produce opportunities to connect cities across the
network and support them in urban development. Here, cross-stakeholder
partnerships, including the private sector, can deliver innovation and make a
real impact on the lives of Africa’s urban residents.
At the 2013 World Summit of Local and Regional
Leaders and the 4th UCLG Global Congress in Rabat this week, I was
pleased to announce UCLG Africa’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with
Microsoft, which leverages the knowledge and expertise of both parties to
empower local government, business and citizens to shape the urban future of
their cities across Africa. Together, we will focus on the establishment of the
Next Cities Facility, to support our strategic priority to provide our members
with a knowledge platform. The Next Cities Facility will serve as an open,
multi-partner, platform to promote innovation and relevant tools for assisting
cities in modernizing their operations, enhancing their services, and
increasing their engagement with a vibrant ecosystem of stakeholders.
Charbel Fakhoury (Vice President, SMSG Middle
East & Africa, Microsoft), Mr. Elong Mbassi (Secretary General, United
Cities and Local Governments Africa), and Samir Benmakhlouf (Morocco Country
Manager, Microsoft) sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Rabat, Morocco.
Through working more closely
with Microsoft in the framework of the Microsoft
CityNext initiative, we wish to help cities transform their infrastructures,
and support city leaders in generating innovative ideas to make their cities
safer, healthier, sustainable, and more successful places to live in.
City-focused solutions like the Urban
Dashboard developed by Microsoft with the African Development Bank have
already started being rolled out in cities like Fes, Morocco.
Furthermore, one of the
goals of our partnership with Microsoft is to develop solutions that can
disseminate results across our advocacy and engagement programs. By analyzing
the results, we can improve communication, logistics and technology access
across our member local governments to ensure efficient collaboration and
enrich the viability and competitiveness of African cities.
Have a comment or opinion on this post? Let me
know @Microsoft_Gov. Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.