Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Southern Africa \ Cities and urbanisation

In 2014, 54% of the global population was living in urban areas and this is predicted to rise to 66% by 2050. The characteristics of cities differ greatly across countries and regions of the Commonwealth and some issues facing large and megacities will differ from those faced by secondary cities and towns and across the Commonwealth, the degree of urbanisation varies significantly. Whilst 38.1% of the population of the Commonwealth lived in urban settlements in 2014, Commonwealth Europe is 82% urban and Commonwealth South-East Asia 78% with Commonwealth Africa 41%, Commonwealth South Asia 33% and the Commonwealth Pacific Islands 18% urban. Achievement of SDG 11 will require cities to actively address the key dimensions of sustainable development – the economy, the society and the environment and to be inclusive, and proactive to ensure safety of all citizens. Subthemes includes urbanisation and migration, urban planning, informal settlements, formal and informal urban economy, disaster risk reduction and emergency planning, safety and security in cities, and smart cities and ICT.



Informality and Inclusive Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

This research seeks to explore the relationship between informality and inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. Despite relatively high growth rates, improvements in poverty and inequality have been constrained in many developing countries over the last decade, suggesting that economic growth has not been inclusive. In part, this relates to low levels of participation in the formal economy as well as high incidence of informality and unemployment in these countries. This research seeks to explore the relationship between informality and inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on South Africa. South Africans typically hold one of two opposing views on the informal sector. The first is that informality should be encouraged as an under-utilised source of new employment; the second is that it should be discouraged as an inferior source of employment. The central research question is therefore: “Do informal labour markets promote or constrain inclusive growth?” In order to examine the hypotheses, we use three different methodologies. Firstly, we undertake a regional evidence synthesis examining literature and case studies from the sub-Saharan Africa region. Secondly, we expand on the South African case study and examine the nature of transitions within the labour market. Thirdly, we examine to what extent income shocks may impact the likelihood of engagement within the informal sector.

Author: Morné Oosthuizen Kezia Lilenstein Francois Steenkamp Aalia Cassim Publisher: ELLA Publication year: 2016

Telling city success stories - roundtable on SDGs and Urban innovation

This roundtable aimed at discussing and sparking new train of thoughts on how to strengthen the role of urban innovation among the city leaders, institutions and urban stakeholders, including private sector organisations. It further explored the strategic pathways for Urban Innovation Community (UIC) to provide new tools, expertise and knowledge on implementing and achieving the SDGs at the local level. 

Author: Metropolis Publisher: Metropolis Publication year: 2016

Informality and Inclusive Growth: What South Africa can tell us about the benefits and costs of informal employment

This brief explores the relationship between informal employment and inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa, focused on the case of South Africa, with recommendations on how to address different types of informality. Informality in the labour market is often seen as both a hindrance and a help to inclusive growth. On the one hand, low pay and less benefits – which characterise informal markets – may exacerbate poverty and inequality concerns. On the other hand, it is far better than the alternative: unemployment. This brief explores the relationship between informal employment and inclusive growth in sub-Saharan Africa, with a specific focus on South Africa. We find clear benefits of informality for inclusive growth, including absorption of vulnerable groups into employment and the flexibility of the informal sector during and after economic downturns. Informal employment is not a magic bullet though; with issues such as lower pay, less benefits and job insecurity among the most problematic. We find policy measures aimed at reducing informality work best when they relax the external and internal constraints facing informal firms. Policy measures that aim to reduce informality by making it costly to be informal can unintentionally increase unemployment by pushing firms out of the market, which constrains inclusive growth. For this reason it is recommended that policy makers aim to support rather than to penalise informal enterprises.

Author: Aalia Cassim, Kezia Lilenstein, Morné Oosthuizen* and Francois Steenkamp Publisher: ELLA Publication year: 2015

Going somewhere slowly? An assessment of the pace of local government HIV/AIDs multisectoral responses in African cities

Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries have the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world accounting for an estimated 71% of all new infections (UNAIDS 2010). HIV prevalence is greatest in urban informal areas, caused largely by the proliferation of a variety of risk environments that facilitate the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS. As a strategic response to the complex nature of the HIV/AIDs epidemic in urban areas, decentralised multisectoral HIV/AIDs responses at the local government level have been adopted. These are seen as a sustainable way of dealing with the spread of HIV/AIDs in a number of African cities, in line with internationally accepted recommendations. Now that a number of local governments in African cities have adopted HIV/AIDS multisectoral responses, the question can be asked to what degree is this is this response being implemented in these countries, and what challenges are faced by cities as they adopt this approach? This article reviews HIV/AIDS multisectoral responses in African cities, and discusses the challenges that face urban local governments as they implement these responses.

Author: Francis Kintu Publisher: University of Technology, Sydney Press Publication year: 2014

Financing Local Government

Decentralisation is now taking place in the public administrations of most countries of the world. A critical determinant of the effective performance of local governments is finance – their ability to both mobilise financial resources and to use those resources effectively and efficiently.

This book explores the variety of methods used to ensure that fiscal decentralisation takes place alongside administrative decentralisation. It considers the range of revenue sources available, the design systems of intergovernmental transfers between central and local government, and the kinds of rules and procedures necessary to ensure that local governments use their financial resources appropriately.

The experiences described in this book will help local government managers, and national policymakers charged with local government finance issues, to ensure that they follow good practice in their own programmes of local government reform.

Author: Nick Devas with Munawwar Alam, Simon Delay, Pritha Venkatachalam and Roger Oppong Koranteng Publisher: Commonwealth Secretariat Publication year: 2008

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