Digital Governance in CitiesFebruary 2022

Reference:                             CFP/1-2022-DGF

Size of Grant:                                    Up to USD 15,000

Submission Deadline:          3 March 2021, 6 PM, East Africa Time (EAT)

Submission: Applicants shall submit their CFP response by email until the specified deadline above to the attention of Abdinassir Sagar to this e-mail address:

Project Key Information


Lead Organization Unit:                  Innovation Unit, Knowledge and Innovation Branch

Region/Country:                               Global

Maximum proposed value:             Up to USD 15,000

Partners:                                            CAF - development bank of Latin America


Purpose of the Call for Proposals

The purpose of the Call for Proposals is to solicit proposals from interested non-profit and/or civil society organizations to provide technical support to the project “Digital Governance in Cities’ by analysing available inspiring practices on the governance of digital technologies in cities and proposing a digital governance framework for cities and regions incorporating experiences from both less developed and developed urban contexts and in both main and intermediary cities. The framework will define and outline core components of digital governance, data governance and digital human rights and inclusion, including associated structures, mechanisms, processes, tools and other elements that can respond to digital related issues.

We are now looking for a non-profit organization to lead the process of drafting the digital governance framework and associated guidelines. Applicant organizations should propose and undertake a systematic approach to developing the framework including consultations with partners.  This call for proposals is addressing organizations that are specialized in conducting research on digital governance models, designing smart city strategies/projects and who can take the lead on the formulation of the digital governance framework, including the following:

  • Review studies and existing inspiring practices on digital governance in a broad range of cities and the typology of smart city governance models being used with the objective of identifying important elements, pre-conditions and their value for governing smart cities and digital transformation.
  • Develop a digital governance framework that outlines and defines core components of digital governance, data governance and digital human rights including associated structures, mechanisms, processes, tools and other elements that can respond to digital related issues in cities. The framework should incorporate any pre-conditions that are more likely to support a robust digital governance framework.


Who we are

About UN-Habitat

UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements, helps the urban poor and other marginalized groups, by transforming cities into safer, healthier, greener places with better opportunities where everyone can live in dignity. UN-Habitat works with organizations at every level, including all spheres of government, civil society and the private sector to help build, manage, plan and finance sustainable urban development. Our vision is cities without slums that are liveable places for all, which do not pollute the environment or deplete natural resources. At the dawn of a new urban era, with most of humanity now living in cities, UN-Habitat is at the frontline of the battle against fast growing urban poverty and the scourge of climate change that is caused by poorly planned urbanization and threatens the lives and livelihoods of entire cities and communities. As the United Nations gateway for cities, UN-Habitat is constantly improving its focus and responsiveness to the aspirations of cities and their residents. To contribute to effectively to urban sustainability, UN-Habitat is promoting the expanded deployment of frontier technologies and innovations for urban development while calling for the appropriate use of digital technologies while calling for governments to adopt a people-centered, privacy-enhancing, and rights preserving approach to digital technologies for inclusion.


The Innovation Unit

For UN-Habitat, innovation means embracing new ideas, up-to-date means and fresh approaches to our work. It is based on horizontal and collaborative working practices that consider diverse contexts and perspectives. Innovation can be digital or non-digital, and take shape as a process, a practical tool or application or as a culture. Approached from a collaborative perspective, it can help to efficiently deliver impacts at scale, put people at the centre of the development process and ensure that no one and no place is left behind.

UN-Habitat’s Innovation Unit was created in 2020 and has four focus areas:

  1. Promote an innovation culture at UN-Habitat for improved sustainable urbanization outcomes.
  2. Develop relevant knowledge and tools to strengthen innovation at UN-Habitat.
  3. Act as an enabler and broker for new ideas and partnerships for inclusive and at scale impacts.
  4. Promote innovation in project and programme design and implementation by providing advice on tools, methodologies, technologies and partnerships.

The Innovation Unit hosts the United Nations Innovation Technology Accelerator for Cities (UNITAC) in Hamburg Germany, leads the agency’s work on digital cooperation, provides technical support to UN-Habitat’s flagship programme on People-Centered Smart Cities and is involved in a number of global networks working on digital and innovation thematic areas.


About the project

The project advances one of the outcomes of UN-Habitat’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan related to the expanded deployment of frontier technologies and innovations for urban development. Through the digital governance framework for cities, local and national governments will be able to appropriately apply digital technologies to ensure that the prosperity they bring is shared among citizens, cities and regions, and a special attention is paid to underserved populations to address inequalities and bridge digital divides.

The project is also expected to contribute to UN-Habitat’s innovation programme, digital transformation work and specifically to the People-Centered Smart Cities Flagship Programme which seeks to make urban digital transformation work for the benefits of all, driving sustainability, inclusivity and prosperity and the realization of human rights in cities and human settlements. In particular, the project outputs are expected to accelerate the achievement of outcome 3 of the flagship program which focuses on digital empowerment and capacity building to enable governments to adopt a people-centered, privacy-enhancing, and rights preserving approach to digital technologies for inclusion and sustainable urban development in the achievement of the SDGs.

UN-Habitat has made digital governance a key topic in its broader urban governance work – including at the 2021 Urban Governance Expert Group Meeting held in April 2021. The recently launched UN Innovation and Technology Accelerator for Cities has “transparent and open governance of digital platforms and data” as one of its three thematic areas. Urban Governance Labs is also another recently launched service that offers to create a space for digital capacity building and inclusion, from which activities, policies and workshops can be put in place. It has already been proven successful, as in the example of Cameroon.

The organization is collaborating with a number of partners to accelerate the realization of outcome 3 of the People-centered Smart Cities Smart Cities flagship programme. Frequent engagement is undertaken with a number of external networks and partners such as the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights to deliberate on issues related to digital governance in cities and promote information sharing and knowledge exchange. UN-Habitat is collaborating with CAF (development bank of Latin America) to undertake an exploratory study mapping out the difference governance mechanisms currently in place in cities in addition to creating a typology of smart city governance models with the objective of understanding their similarities and differences as well as the benefits and shortcoming of each model.

Following the exploratory study, UN-Habitat, in collaboration with CAF (development bank of Latin America), is interested in proposing a comprehensive, yet simple and customizable, digital governance framework with clearly defined components that allows cities to govern and manage the adoption of digital technologies.

The framework, at a minimum, will capture the following aspects of digital governance in cities: (i) digital transformation strategies, (ii) strategic use of data, (iii) deployment and operation of enabling infrastructures, (iv) emerging technologies regulation, (v) equity and digital inclusion including mechanisms for governing issues related to human rights and digital technology, and policies for digital inclusion and mechanisms to address the digital divide. The framework will be accompanied by relevant tools to facilitate its customization and implementation.


What we are looking for

We are looking for a dynamic partner to support the development of the digital governance framework for cities. The partner will work directly with UN-Habitat’s Innovation Unit, CAF - development bank of Latin America and other partner organizations such as the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights. The partner organization needs to have demonstrated understanding and experience in digital governance, smart city projects, and urban digital transformation processes.


Expected Activities and Outputs


Due date


1. Review studies and existing inspiring practices on digital governance in cities and typology of smart city governance models with the objective of identifying important elements and their value for governing smart cities and digital transformations.


  1. Inception report outlining key findings from the review and methodology to develop the digital governance framework.

2. Stakeholder consultation workshops with local and national government officials, practitioners, academia, and other stakeholders.  


  1. Report on outcomes from two stakeholder consultation workshops facilitated to gather information for the framework and to identify best practices.

3. Formulate a digital governance framework that outlines and defines possible preconditions, core components of digital governance, data governance and digital human rights including associated structures, mechanisms, processes, tools, and other elements that can respond to digital related issues in cities.


  1. Draft digital governance framework   outlining core components of digital governance, their interlinkages and associated structures, mechanisms, processes, tools and other elements that can respond to digital related issues in cities.

4. Validation workshop with subject matter experts and local government practitioners.


  1. Report on outcomes from the validation workshop.

5. Finalize the digital governance framework and develop step-by-step guide for operationalizing the framework.


  1. finalized digital governance framework accompanied by step-by-step guidance and communication materials. 


Eligibility Criteria


Submission Details/ Documents Required

Legal Status

  • Certificate of registration/incorporation i.e.,
  • Proof of registration.

Organization profile and details

  • Clear organization profile and structure of the organization indicating:
    • Organization’s vision, mission and objectives
    • Management structure
    • Members of the Governing Board and their Designations Proof of membership to professional associations, if any.

Financial Capacity

  • Audited company financial statements (balance sheet and income statement) and auditors report for the last two years

Exclusive bank account

  • Is the organization willing and able to have a separate bank account for the funds provided by UN-Habitat?

Integrity and Governance

  • The organization should complete and submit a signed Partner Declaration Form
  • Provide the profiles of the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, Head of the Organization and Chief of Finance


Selection Criteria

All proposals will be assessed using the following criteria.


Submission details/ documents required

1.1 Does the organization have the relevant experience and proven track record in implementing activities in the areas of the project?

Has it managed in the past projects of similar technical complexities and financial size?

Is the project linked with the core business of the organization?

  • List of projects executed in the last 2 years (value, location, donors, nature of projects, execution stage – completed or ongoing).
  • Demonstrate how the experiences in past projects are relevant in the execution of the current proposal
  • References from past donors

1.2 Does the organization have qualified technical staff with the experience and the technical skills required by the project?

What is the staff size, type, qualification and education background?

  • CVs of key management staff, technical and non-technical staff that will be involved on the project
  • How many technical staff do you have in the concerned country for implementing the project? Is there reasonable assurance that such technical staff required by the project will continue to be available as needed in the project?

1.3 Does the organization have a clear and strong link with an identifiable constituency relevant to the targeted populations of the project?

Does it have the ability to impact on the targeted population and on the issues?

Does it have strong presence in the field and for how long?

Does it have adequate capacity to work in key areas/regions where the proposed field activities will be implemented?

  • Demonstrate, describe and provide proof of local operational presence, including link and ability to impact the targeted population.

1.4 Does the organization possess adequate physical facilities, office equipment, transport, etc. to implement the activities?

  • Provide location and list of office facilities, vehicles and office equipment locally available to implement the project.

1.5 Does the organization have formal procedures to monitor project execution (e.g., milestones, outputs, expenditures…)

  • Provide formal project monitoring policies and procedures

2.1 Has the organization been in operation over a period of at least 2 years to demonstrate its financial sustainability and relevance?

  • State the years of operation
  • Financial statements for the last 2 years

2.2 Does the organization have qualified staff in finance? Is the current accounting system computerized and does have the capacity to collect and provide separate financial reports on the activities executed under the Agreement of Cooperation?

Does it have systems and practices to monitor and report whether the project deliverables and expenditures are within agreed time and budget?

Does it have minimum segregation of duties in place (separation between project management, finance/accounting and executive office)


  • CVs of key finance and accounting staff
  • Description and key features and controls of the accounting system used
  • Organization structure / organogram

2.3 Does the organization have the capacity to procure goods and services on a transparent and competitive basis? (if applicable) check for procurement unit with experienced staff

  • Copies of procurement policies and procedures. The procedures should show how your organization procures locally and internationally.

2.4 Does the organization have formal procedures and controls to mitigate fraud such as multiple signature signatories on bank accounts, reporting and prosecution of incidences of fraud?

  • Describe anti-fraud controls and provide formal procedures

2.5 Does the organization have capacity to provide in-kind, financial, personnel contribution as UN-Habitat Implementing Partner in this present project? Please give details of contribution nature and size.

  • Describe nature and value of contribution (in-kind or cash)

3.1 Is the budget for each component of the activity to be performed by the Implementing Partner

(i) cost-effective (i.e. the cost should be economical and prudently estimated to avoid any under/over estimation)

(ii) justifiable/well supported and

(iii) accurate and complete?


Budget Proposal

  • BOQ (if applicable)
  • Other supporting documents

4.1 Is the technical proposal sound and does it respond adequately to the specifications and requirements?


Technical Proposal document


The applicant must submit a technical

proposal using this template: Technical

Proposal Document (Annex B)


       Please use this to clearly show how you intend to deliver the proposed project.


 4.1.1 Understanding of governance of smart city transitions

  • Experience of planning, leading and implementing the drafting of ICT / Smart city strategies, governance of smart city transitions, or similar.


 4.1.2 Digital governance framework

  • Experience of researching or developing smart city governance models, digital governance frameworks, or related concepts.


 4.1.3 Stakeholder engagement workshops

      • Experience of facilitating workshops and other stakeholder engagement sessions.


Cumulative score for ratios



Instruction to Applicants

  1. Proposals received after the deadline will not be considered.
  2. Applicants shall submit their proposal by email until the specified deadline above to the attention of Abdinassir Sagar,
  3. Please use the templates provided in the Annex.
  4. Proposals and accompanying documents submitted to a different email addresses will not be considered.
  5. Any clarification queries and correspondences should be sent by email.
  6. Proposals failing to provide the requested information will be disregarded.
  7. All costs must be in USD.
  8. The proposal language is English.
  9. The technical proposal will be evaluated based on whether it responds adequately to the specifications and requirements of the call for proposals. All proposals will be assessed on a comparative basis against the criteria specified in the call for proposals document. Interested organizations must provide information indicating that they are qualified to perform the services (brochure, description of similar assignments, experience in similar conditions, availability of appropriate skills among staff, etc). Along with this technical proposal, please submit a visual and or narrative portfolio of similar projects that the applicant implemented in the area of activities of the project. We have specified mandatory experience which must be demonstrated marked with an (*) under “Selection & Evaluation Criteria”. Please submit relevant supporting documents verifying your organization’s experience in the required areas.
  10. A two-stage procedure will be utilized in evaluating the proposals, with evaluation of the Technical Proposal (comprising of technical capacity, financial and administrative management capacity, and the technical proposal) being completed prior to any Financial Proposal being opened and compared. Applicant’s submission of technical proposal and accompanying documents submitted in template Annex B and financial proposal in Annex C will be evaluated using the criteria specified in the call for proposals.
  11. All shortlisted applicants will be notified, and their respective project managers asked to participate in in a technical session organized by UN-Habitat to help evaluate the technical performance of the applicant organization.
  12. Only successful applicant organizations will be notified.
  13. Organizations will be selected in accordance with the procedure set out in the UN-Habitat IP Management Policy and Standard Operating Procedures
  14. This Call for Proposals does not entail any commitment on the part of UN-Habitat, either financial or otherwise. UN-Habitat reserves the right to accept or reject any or all proposals without incurring any obligation to inform the affected applicant(s) of the grounds.



You can download the key documents below:

  1. Annex A - Partner Declaration Form
  2. Annex B - Technical Proposal Form
  3. Annex C - Budget Template / Financial Proposal

For more information, please contact Abdinassir Sagar,