Johannesburg 01 December 2015—The Africities 2015 kicked off in Johannesburg on Sunday with urbanisation taking the centre stage. In his official opening speech, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation gave UN-Habitat a vote of thanks of sorts when he quoted extensively from its State of African Cities Report 2014.

The Africities Summit is the appointment for Africa’s Local Authorities. Organized regularly every three years, by United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), the event has become a distinguished opportunity for the evaluation of the implementation of decentralization policies in Africa.

This year’s edition is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the theme: “ Shaping the future of Africa with the people: the contribution of African local authorities to Agenda 63 of the African Union.” “State of African Cities Report 2014 by UN-Habitat calls for a rethink of the fast urbanisation levels seen in Africa,” the minister said.

Mr. Radebe said urbanisation rate in Africa jumped from 15 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 2010, adding that the figure is expected to reach 60 percent in 2050 and triple in the next 50 years, he said.

“When well-managed, high levels of urbanization can lead to exponential increases in economic growth and development. But high levels of urbanization that are not managed well can lead to negative consequences, including over utilization of infrastructure and social unrest. At the moment, the continent is seeing a mix of positive and negative outcomes,” the minister noted.

He then went ahead to give an impressive update on the urbanisation rates in the various regions of the continent and the projections of what the future holds. In her speech the Africa Union Commissioner for Political Affairs Ms. Aisha Abdullahi warned that there could be no effective sustainable urbanisation and human settlements if the support of political leaders was lacking.

She hailed the Agenda 63 as a ‘common agenda that seeks to incorporate the aspirations of all.’ She disclosed that the agenda was being implemented in 10 year phases. “ The African Union expects this summit to come up with innovative solutions to challenges facing urban centres ,” she said adding that the recent terror attacks in Paris, Bamako and the Lake Chad region called for a new way of looking at security in the cities.

In his speech, the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCGLA) Khalifa Sall said the African continent had everything it needed to move forward. “But we must first build the citizenship while thinking globally and acting locally. Those in charge must fight corruption and develop a culture of accountability,” he said.

Alioune Sall, the President of the Prospective Group gave an overview of the Agenda 63 while the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Mr. Parks Tau challenged the participants to engage positively in seeking African solutions to African problems.

The deputy mayor of Paris Patrick Klugman got a standing ovation when he declared that the recent terrorist attack in his country would not deter Paris from carrying on with life as before.