Political map of Africa. (Hover mouse to see name, click area to go to article.) The other option is to use the menu at the top right and make your selection there.
Why do LED in Africa?
The decentralization in Africa takes place in a difficult economic context, a fragile institutional structure and high levels of poverty. In most countries, decentralization processes are taking place and certain tasks and responsibilities are being transferred to local communities. However, in the first phases of decentralization (1980-2005), the emphasis was more on the political and administrative aspects. From 2005 onwards, constraints relating to job access and the ability to generate revenues were identified as the primary obstacles to the improvement of living conditions for the population.
The rise of LED can be explained by three major factors: globalization which more than ever puts the territory at the forefront of business strategies; decentralization which offers an appropriate institutional structure for territories; and urbanization which focuses on the role of cities as developments centers and their hinterland as centers of productivity and competitiveness.
Developing strategies of local economic development involves a coalition of actors which goes beyond traditional institutional borders (public, private and social actors) and requires research, consultation and participation. It also involves action from the local actors in a life-size exercise of local strategic planning.
The citizens, local communities, businesses, central governments and partners do the development work to obtain benefits from their investments in local strategies and programs of local economic development. In fact, the direct advantages of successful LED strategies influence the volume of economic activity and have a major impact on job creation and the distribution of wealth. The last two elements as well as the fiscal base are in better health because local economies are more competitive and more taxes mean better public service which allows the improvement of the structural environment of businesses. If well developed and implemented, LED is a virtuous circle that allows enduring local development.
Better jobs, better revenues and a high quality of life are the objective and expectation of all citizens – whether they are from developed or developing countries. These expectations, more and more pressing for local governments and their managers, are legitimate and require bold LED strategies at the local level. The decentralization process gives this expectation a particular resonance even if fiscal decentralization is still far away.
A big part of economic activity in Africa is concentrated on formal and informal micro-enterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises. A good quality infrastructural environment is an important condition for the development of these activities and their competitiveness. LED is a way in which private sector stakeholders communicate their concerns for a better contribution to territorial development.
Development partners have an interest in LED as well because it contributes to effectiveness of aid by encouraging local planning as well as decision making at the local level. LED improves local governance and reduces poverty. Most LED strategies identify projects which are local priorities and not necessarily the priorities of the developing partners.