The East African Local Governments Association (EALGA) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Local Government forum (CLGF) convened local government leaders and practitioners from East African partner states in Arusha, Tanzania, on 27 and 28 February 2024 for a regional conference on local economic development in cross-border communities. 

The East Africa Local Government Forum (EALGF) is a network of ministries of local government, local government associations and organizations with an interest in local government in East Africa. The promote effective decentralization and empowering local governments to deliver development at the local level within the framework of the East African Community (EAC ) and other formal regional structures.

The regional conference showcased and underscored the role of local government in facilitating the East Africa Community trade agenda following a commitment made by EALGA and the East Africa Community under their memorandum of understanding signed in February 2022.

In her keynote address, Dr. Irene Isaka, the East Africa Community Deputy Secretary General, committed to further involving local governments in the EAC’s procedures, noting that: “local governments are the epicentre of productivity and they feed and ensure sustainable markets, it therefore becomes imperative that we at the EAC include and involve them in our discussions and planning processes”.

EALGA chairperson, councilor Jeannette Nyiramasengesho highlighted the challenges of the EAC Common Market Protocol for local governments in terms of regulatory frameworks, revenue generation, service provision, and trade management, as it was developed without adequate consultation or feedback from the local government sector. “The protocol continues to have significant negative impacts on local economies, which inadvertently calls for dialogue to inform the local economic development prospects at the country level”, she added.

Ms. Claire Frost, the CLGF programme explained that CLGF would continue to champion local economic development because of its ability to enable local governments to not only enforce laws and policies but also play a developmental role by convening key stakeholders, reinforcing social inclusion, supporting SMEs and decent work along with increasing opportunities for citizens to engage in trade and investment.

The event was supported by the European Union under its project “strengthening local government’s Role as a Partner in Development”, which runs from 2022 to 2025, aimed at increasing recognition of the important role of local government, promoting subsidiarity and reinforcing decentralization across the Commonwealth. The countries represented included; Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

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