|A section of forum participants|
|Participants in session|
The forum outlined various challenges that affect urban areas such as: water and sanitation issues, poor urban planning and rising insecurity. The expert presenters recommended to the urban leaders on the best ways of solving the outlined challenges. The presenters acknowledged city twinning as a tool of dealing with such challenges through sharing of experiences and learning from the twinning partners.
James Shikwati (left) and Raymond Kiptum (right) present a gift to the Mayor of Moshi, Hon. Michael Japhery (centre).
Sister Cities International is keen to widen its citizen diplomacy advocacy in Africa by creating opportunities for city leaders to explore the benefits of Sister City relationship. Currently, there are over 140 partnerships between U.S and African Cities with numerous exchanges taking place between the sister cities. They include cultural exchanges, student exchanges and capacity building. The forum shared some of the best models of twinning. Representatives from twinning cities such as Eldoret, Mombasa, Moshi, Thika and Tanga among others, showcased how twinning has positively impacted their cities.
|Jennelle Root is interviewed by a local media|
According to Jennelle Root (Director of Programs and Grants, Sister Cities International) Sister City relationships can advance peace and mutual understanding between the cities and nations, if well managed. She advised mayors and sister city coordinators to involve all stakeholders in Sister City activities. “Sister Cities International believes in people-to-people diplomacy. Urban leaders should therefore involve the youth, NGOS, the business community and the Diaspora in their Sister City activities,” she said.
Jennelle Root assisted by EASC staff presents a gift to Hon. Shukuru Mbato, Mayor of Bagamoyo.
In his welcoming remarks, the Mayor of Moshi, Hon. Michael Japhery, challenged the participants to strengthen the East African Community through twinning. “Moshi is ready to share socio-political and economic ideas that will help develop East Africa,” he said. He outlined how his city has learnt a lot through twinning with other cities in the world. Sharing of best practice through twinning has made Moshi the cleanest town in Tanzania, he revealed.
Eastern Africa has a population of 133.1 million people and has some cities in the top 20 fastest growing cities in the world. This, according to Mr. James Shikwati (Regional Director, Eastern Africa Sister Cities) if well tapped, is a great opportunity for service providers and the economy at large. “Urban areas are growing each day, structures are put up each day, people are migrating to urban areas, this creates an opportunity for business and revenue generation for the urban council which should not be neglected,” Said Mr. Shikwati.
|Mr. Simiyu Werunga addresses the participants|
Mr. Simiyu Werunga (Director General, Africa Centre for Security and Strategic Studies) urged city leaders to take security matters seriously because it affects all other all stakeholders in the city. “Security directly affects income revenue generating activities like investment and tourism; therefore it is important for city leaders to involve all stakeholders in the urban area in ensuring that the urban area is safe for these activities,” he said. He suggested collaborative and problem-solving partnerships with other cities though city twinning. He advocated for the involvement of the local community in putting up security measures and collaboration with National security organs if capacity is low.
James Shikwati and Raymond Kiptum present a gift to Janelle
On his side, Dr. Wakuru Magigi (Lecturer and Urban Development expert, Moshi University College of Cooperative and Business Studies) emphasized the need to enhance collaboration, networking and linkages for effective actions in urban planning. He urged the city leaders to implement the planned designs and apply control measures to avoid deviations from the plan during implementation. “The problem is not the planning, but the implementation of the plans by those in authority, who at times deviate from the plans for selfish reasons or because they lack the skill and will to implement,” he said.
The delegates appreciated the twinning concept as a tool of sharing experiences and enhancing cooperation between citizens. They expressed the need to be enlightened on formal procedures that lead towards respective sister cities becoming official and resolved to twin with fellow African cities too.
The two day forum concluded by developing a way forward for the Eastern African Sister Cities operations. Some of the recommendations included:
•To encourage, promote and strengthen Citizen participation in the twinning processes,
•To promote South- South twinning and
•To sensitize the Cities in the East Africa Community on the opportunities and benefits of twinning.
Delegates also agreed to involve relevant ministries and organizations and to continue supporting existing twinning relationships between existing cities in the region & other global twinning partnerships.
A further reported will be posted on this website.
By Raymond Kiptum
Program Manager, Eastern Africa Sister Cities.