23 November 2018, Marrakesh, Morocco – Addressing the Official Opening Ceremony of the Political Meetings discussions at the Africities8 Summit, UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob, said the Organization had been with Africities from the start working to “unleash the potential of African cities for the sustainable development of the continent.”

Mr Kisob said the theme this year of Africities “The transition to sustainable cities and territories: The role of African local governments“ was a critical call for local governments and everyone else to review the approach to sustainable urban and local community development.

“We need to learn from each other and come up with new ways to improve the lives of individuals, families, communities, especially the poor, in villages, towns and cities,” he said.

At the start of the Ceremony,  the Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A), Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi said the summit would result in concrete recommendations and Mayor Soham Wardini of Dakar, Senegal outlined several priorities including decentralization and developing medium sized cities.

Later UN-Habitat and the African Development Bank launched the French version of the State of  African Cities Report 2018 which focuses on the impact of Foreign Direct Investment in Africa’s urban areas. UN-Habitat’s Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob told the meeting that this was the first report to explore Foreign Direct Investment flows into cities.

The overall author of the African Cities Report, Dr. Ronald Wall, explained how foreign firms and investors in African cities can play a major role in the development of the continent. “We need to build on what we are good at and create new sectors that are related to our strengths to diversify and make our profile more interesting for investors,” he said.

Dr Nana Arthur, Head of Service in the Office of the Head of Local Government Service in Ghana said authorities needed to look at the key factors for attracting investment while also at producing their own goods which could help to address unemployment.

At another event, representatives from African cities in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Tunisia and Benin signed agreements with counterparts in Morocco along with the United Cities and Local Governments-Africa, the Federation of Moroccan Urban Agencies (MAJAL) and UN-Habitat, to promote exchange of practices in urban and territorial planning.

The President of MAJAL, Ms Khaddouj Guenou, said "sharing a same geographical space underpins Morocco’s decision to promote city to city collaboration on urban planning across the continent and to offer the expertise of its 30 members to support planning capacity across the continent".

Earlier Morocco’s Minister of National Planning, Urban Planning, Housing, and Urban Policy of Morocco Abdelahad Fassi-Fihri, opened the session on "Challenges and Opportunities in Africa " stressing the central role of planning in creating more sustainable cites. He said Morocco was committed to building a 'city diplomacy' with Africa focused on urban and territorial planning and decentralization.