Commonwealth Local Government Forum

CLGC2023 commences!

14 November 2023

 

On Tuesday 14 November at the Kigali Convention Centre, we were very honoured to have Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Ngirente, officiating at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Local Government Conference 2023. 

Prime Minister's address

Prime Minister Dr Ngirente welcomed everyone to Rwanda and expressed his pleasure in taking part in the opening ceremony of the 10th Commonwealth Local Government Conference, following on from the successful 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which took place in Kigali in June last year.

Timely theme

He described the conference theme - Building Local Resilience across the Commonwealth - as timely, with the current challenges, including the Covid19 pandemic, global economic crisis, environmental shocks, climate change and conflicts having challenged the resilience of governments. He explained that some reports indicate that the Commonwealth’s member countries have suffered a collective loss of 1.15 trillion USD to their GDP in 2020, compared with the pre-pandemic estimates. Similarly, in 2019, climate change and related disasters caused direct economic losses of 70.4 billion USD in 53 countries, with 60% of the losses recorded in the agricultural sector. On top of that, he said it is estimated that the negative impact of climate change could push 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. He called the conference a good opportunity to reflect on how to strengthen resilience for local government and explore innovative ways to address these challenges.

Significant progress

Prime Minister Dr Ngirente explained that, in Rwanda, significant progress in building resilience in local government had been made. Over the last 29 years, the Government of Rwanda has been working to rebuild a stable, united and prosperous nation. Strategic priorities have focused on citizen-centred governance and quality service delivery, based on the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. A strong focus on promoting homegrown solutions, as well as sectoral decentralisation, have been the drivers in building strong and self-reliant local government entities that contribute to national development.

Performance contracts

He explained that in order to increase citizens’ participation, accountability and transparency from the leaders, the Government of Rwanda put in place the Performance Contracts programme, commonly known as Imihigo. A reliable tool for evaluating performance at both central and local government levels since 2006, under this programme, every year public servants sign performance contracts with their managers/supervisors or heads of institution - at all levels of administration – and those who fail to achieve the set targets are held accountable.

Government services 90% online

Within the framework of reducing transaction costs, improving service delivery and empowering citizens, Rwanda has embarked on a complete digitisation of public services. As a result, today over 90% of government services can be accessed online, and work is continuing to have all services digitised by 2024. Moreover, block grants, local government revenues, and the share of the national budget allocated to districts have increased progressively. This reflects the overall progress in fiscal decentralisation.

Three key points

He concluded by emphasising three key points: building resilience in local government is crucial to cope with emerging challenges and shocks; Rwanda’s ability to respond effectively to various shocks and maintain resilience will rely on strengthening governance and decentralisation – the key enablers of the socio-economic transformation; and, finally, with 60% of the Commonwealth’s population aged 30 and under, it is crucial to feature their needs in the country’s development plans. 

 

Wishing delegates a productive conference and a pleasant stay in Rwanda, Prime Minister Dr Ngirente declared the 10th Commonwealth Local Government Conference officially open. This was followed by the opening of the CLGC2023 exhibition, where Prime Minister Dr Ngirente visited each of the stands and spoke to the organisations about their work.

 

The opening ceremony speakers also included representatives of CLGF’s partners for the conference, Hon Minister Musabyimana, Minister for Local Government and Cllr Jeannette Nyiramasengesho, Chairperson of the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA), together with CLGF Chair, Rev Mmachakga Mpho BW Moruakgomo. 

 

View the Summary Reel of the first day.

 

Commonwealth Secretary General recognising local government

In a video message from Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, she expressed her regrets at not being able to attend the event in person, but gave her best wishes to all delegates. She praised the work of CLGF Secretary-General, Lucy Slack and her team for their essential work in promoting and strengthening local government in the pursuit of sustainable development. She spoke about how CLGF brings together a rich blend of stakeholders from all spheres of government and a range of sectors, such as academia, to provide a collective voice. She described this as the ‘true spirit of partnership’. In speaking in more detail about the subject of the conference, she said that the huge increase in the population of cities over the next two decades will take place in the Commonwealth. It is therefore essential that we deliver SDG11 to make cities inclusive, safe and resilient. You can see the video in full

 

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