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Decentralization and local development on the STT 10 menu

by Victor Emmanuel Ekwa Bebe III

10th Solution Think Tank meeting held in Conakry

From October 16 to 21, 2023, Solution Think Tank (STT) held its 1st face-to-face meeting in Conakry, Guinea. This West African think tank spent a week discussing the theme "Decentralization and local development in West Africa: challenges and prospects".

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Partial view of the room

Delegates from Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal, the UK and, of course, Guinea, representing STT member organizations, met at Conakry's Hotel Noom for a week's work on decentralization issues. The hosts were member organizations of Africa's water tower land, notably IPED Guinea and Stat View International.

At the inaugural conference on Wednesday October 18, Dr. Boubacar Sidighi Diallo of BSD Guinée spoke on "Decentralization and local development in West Africa: challenges and prospects".

Another view of the room

Following this development, Dr. Gilles Yabi, Director of West Africa Think Tank (WATHI), spoke on "Gouvernance territoriale et défis sécuritaires: Quelles articulations entre l'action de l'Etat et celles des collectivités locales?".

Dr. César Moquet Flan of the Centre de recherche politique d'Abidjan (CRPA) spoke on "Participatory democracy in local authority management: challenges and prospects in West Africa".

Dr. César Moquet Flan of the Centre de recherche politique d'Abidjan (CRPA) (Ivory Coast)

On Thursday 19th, local development financing mechanisms in the Republic of Guinea were the focus of a presentation by Abraham Youla of Guinea's Agence nationale de financement des collectivités locales (ANAFIC). Immediately afterwards, Blanche Sonon, Chairman of the Board of Social Watch Benin, shared in-depth knowledge on the subject of "Promoting local development: What role and place for civil society?"

Blanche Sonon of Social Watch Benin (SWB) (Benin)

In the second half of the day, Kabiné Diané of the Association nationale des communes de Guinée (ANCG) spoke on "Accountability of elected representatives in municipal management: realities, challenges and prospects".

La maîtrise d'ouvrage locale en République de Guinée: réalités, défis et perspectives: this was the focus of the day's discussions, the initial presentation of which was made by Dr. Moundjour Chérif, former Director of Cabinet to the Governor of Conakry.

At the end of the communications and exchanges, the member organizations, through the pen of their president or director, proceeded to the official signing of the Think Tank Solution Charter. This document establishes the network's mode of operation. Hafiziou Barry, STT's current secretary, then handed over the reins to Hervé Akinocho, director of CROP (Togo), who is now STT's secretary until the end of the STT 11 meeting in Lomé, organized by CROP and CADERDT, the network's two Togolese organizations.

Dr. Gilles Yabi of West Africa Think Tank (WATHI) (Senegal)

On Friday 20th, STT visited the premises of the Matoto commune, in the heart of the Guinean capital, to get a feel for the realities of decentralized management. STT was received by the municipal authorities, headed by second vice-mayor Ibrahima Sory Cissé. The meeting featured a video on the achievements of mayor Mamadouba Tos Camara and his team, as well as discussions and explanations of the prospects envisaged by the communal council. The meeting was attended by STT secretary Mamadou Hafiziou Barry, the second vice-mayor and Dr. Flan from CRPA. The STT delegation was then taken through the communal buildings to see what was being done.

Paul Melly of Chatham House (UK)

The meeting ended with an outdoor lunch, before delegates departed on Saturday morning. It should be recalled that STT opened on Monday 16th with group work, which enabled the think tank to finalize four new policy papers: "Women's participation in political life in West African countries", "Corporate social responsibility in the mining sector in West Africa: the case of Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire", "Combating child trafficking in West Africa: analysis of national and sub-regional mechanisms", "Food security in West Africa." Other themes have been chosen for papers to be produced in 2024.

On Tuesday morning, the conference was opened by Théodore Golli, KAS PDWA program manager and STT delegate for the KAS, Mamadou Hafiziou Barry, director of Initiative pour la prospective économique et le développement durable (IPED) and current secretary (May-October 2023) of STT, and Ansoumane Condé, Councillor in charge of sustainable development for the Matoto commune.

Hervé Akinocho de Center for Research and Opinion Polls (CROP) (Togo)

As a reminder, Solution Think Tank was born out of the need for a strong Francophone regional think tank to address development, politics, economics, education, society, governance, security and related areas, and propose solutions to decision-makers. The first meeting (STT 1), the one to set up this think tank, took place in Grand-Bassam, Côte d'Ivoire, at the end of 2018. This was followed by STT 2 Conakry in early 2019, STT 3 Lomé in late 2019, STT 4 in Cape Town, South Africa in early 2020 with African Policy Circle (STT's English-speaking alter ego), STT 5 Cotonou (Benin) in early 2021, STT 6 Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in late 2021, STT 7 Dakar (Senegal) in early 2022, STT 8 Berlin (Germany) in late 2022, STT 9 Abidjan (Ivory Coast) in early 2023, and STT 10 in Conakry.

To date, the network has published 17 policy papers on various topics (2 in 2019, 3 in 2020, 4 in 2021, 4 in 2022 and 4 more recently in 2023).

Praesidium during a visit to Matoto town hall

The network members are: Center de recherche politique d'Abidjan (CRPA) (Côte d'Ivoire), Centre ivoirien de recherches économiques et sociales (CIRES) (Côte d'Ivoire), Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) (Côte d'Ivoire), Cercle de Réflexion Stratégique d'Abidjan (CRSA, formerly Institut de Stratégie (IS)) (Côte d'Ivoire), Social Watch Bénin (SWB) (Bénin), Center for research and Opinion Polls (CROP) (Togo), Center autonome d'études et de renforcement des capacités pour le développement au Togo (CADERDT) (Togo), Centre d'Analyse des Politiques Économiques et Sociales (CAPES) (Burina Faso), West Africa Think Tank (WATHI) (Senegal), Stat View International (SVI) (Guinea), Initiative pour la prospective et le développement durable (IPED) (Guinea), Chatham House (UK).

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Théodore Golli

Theodore Golli

Programme Officer
Policy and Think Tanks +225 27 22 48 1800

Dr. Stefanie Brinkel

Dr. rer. pol

Director of the Regional Program Political Dialogue in West Africa +225 27 22 48 1800


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