ASToN is a network of 11 African cities developing digital practices tools and practices in order to create sustainable & inclusive cities

Who are we ?

ASToN launch - Kampala (2019, October 25th)

ASToN is a flagship programme financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), managed by the French National Urban Renovation Agency (ANRU) and inspired by URBACT knowledge and tools.

ASToN is a network of 11 African cities using digital tools to overcome local and global challenges. Our hope is that by creating a cohort of cities and collaborating in this way, ASToN cities can become leading digital actors, faster, and in a way that’s appropriate and sustainable for each own’s local context.

Through this project, we try to support cities in finding their answers to some of these questions:

  • How can a transition to digital technology improve the city for citizens and what should I be doing about it?
  • How might we collaborate and learn together with other cities to make that transition more sustainable and faster?
  • How can we make sure as cities that no one is left in the process and that digital transition is an inclusive process for all?
  • Which digital experiments can I run that can have a positive impact on my city and citizens?

How does it work ?

Through peer exchange and learning, engaging our local stakeholders and taking a results-oriented approach, we are making our cities more sustainable and inclusive places to live and work.

To do so, we are drawing our inspiration from the URBACT method. URBACT is a European cooperation programme for cities. For 20 years, URBACT has worked with more than 1000 cities in Europe building city-to-city cooperation networks. Through URBACT, cities developed tailor-made solutions to solve their local challenges.

  • Sharing
    To foster the exchange of experiences among cities and identify good practices
  • Learning
    To strengthen the practical knowledge and skills of cities in the policy area related to the issues addressed by the network
  • Sharing
    To draw lessons from the exchange on an ongoing basis and to apply them at local level, especially through the production of the Local Action Plans
  • Sharing
    To support partners in improving their local policies and producing their Local Action Plans

Some key concepts :

  • Integrated and sustainable urban development – this approach encourages the creation of jobs and growth while promoting a cohesive society and better environment.
  • Local Action Plan – one of the key results from the involvement in ASToN. It sets a clear vision and a roadmap for each city to reach its objectives and overcome its challenges related to the specific digital topic they have chosen to work on.
  • Local Action Group – are a fundamental building block of ASToN. Each city is required to set up a Local Group gathering key local stakeholders in order to co-produce city strategies and action plans. The group should bring together all relevant stakeholders having a stake in the policy challenge addressed by the city.
  • Training and capacity building – Being an active partner in ASToN will allow cities to strengthen their competence in the field of integrated and sustainable urban development. ASToN works is also a learning programme for all civil servants and stakeholders involved. Through the exchanges cities will develop a better understanding and knowledge of the topic addressed locally. They will also build up professional skills in participatory action planning, while working with local stakeholders on the Local Action Plan. In addition to the network activities, ASToN offers jointly with URBACT regular training and capacity-building activities for partners and local stakeholders.
  • Transnational exchange – ASToN cities encounters can take many shapes and sizes.

What are the stages of realization ?

Through research and visits we published a baseline study of where cities were at the beginning of the project and with a vision of what’s next – what we wanted to learn, and how far we think we could go.
Cities started involving local stakeholders and built up a picture of what it’s going to take, to make the changes they wanted, and what we’ll each need to do to achieve them.
< Sept 2019 – Jun 2020
Trought the ENGAGE phase, cities acquired a clear vision, an action plan to reach that vision, a stakeholder group to put the plan into action and ways to validate what’s working and what’s not.
Besides the local work, we’ll hold a series of transnational meetings, workshops and exchanges to share ideas and what we are learning. We looked into the skills needed for cities to succeed their digital transition.
< Juil 2020 – Dec 2020
The experimentation phase consisted of a period of “implementation” of pilot projects, during which cities tested a small portion of their Action Plan.
< Dec 2021 – Jun 2022

Browse through the inception document of our network.

It provides you a clear view of the state of digital transformation of African cities, the digital maturity of our partners and how we are planning for the future!

Explore our Baseline study