The African Smart Towns Network

Last week the cities of the network met face-to-face to take stock of their progress, celebrate their accomplishments, and plan what lies ahead. 

Over the course of three days, participants explored the future of their cities and shared lessons learned from their recent digital transitions.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few images from our summit in Ghana…

Tuesday the 22nd of November

The Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon Simon Osei Mensah, the Mayor of Kumasi, Samuel Pyne, and the Asafo Traditional Council, Nana Acheamfour Asafo Boakye Agyemang Bonsu gave opening speeches at the convention and chaired the sessions.

From left to right, the Asafo Traditional Council, Hon Simon Osei Mensah, The Ashanti Regional Minister, Nana Acheamfour Asafo Boakye Agyemang Bonsu, the Mayor of Kumasi, Samuel Pyne, and the ASToN Lead, Simina Lazar.

During the morning we presented a retrospective of the ASToN journey. This provided an overview of where we started until the present day. City members, experts and the secretariat shared fond memories from the past 3 years as well as many key moments and milestones. What a journey!

Proud and ready to make the most of the week, we embarked on a well-deserved coffee break… without the coffee. Guests enjoyed fresh juices, coconuts and delicious Ghanaian treats organised by the local team.

Later on, Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou shared his inspiring vision for a new African definition of the Smart City, and presented his project hubcity.

Sénamé Koffi Agbodjinou, architect, anthropologist and tech- activist

In the afternoon, city elected representatives participated in a high-level panel and discussed what it takes to realise a digital transition. We explored the challenges and opportunities that the cities encountered during their process, as well as the methods that they adopted to succeed.

Local elected representants agora session

In the session that followed, cities elaborated the Charter for the digital transition of African cities. In groups, cities defined and discussed the principles of the charter. Each group presented their findings with the rest of the delegation, who offered constructive feedback. Three members gathered notes from this discussion in order to write a formal charter that cities could take away at the end of the week.

In the evening, the city of Kumasi hosted a networking drinks for all guests. We were honored to welcome the Mayor of Kumasi, elected officials and local group members. We shared a traditional Ghanaian meal made up of a light goat soup and jollof rice. Dancers from the National Cultural Center performed traditional Ashanti dances and rhythms.

Wednesday the 23d of November

The second morning was dedicated to the cities’ progress. Local coordinators took part in a live dashboard to offer a visual overview of each city’s activities. Progress on the dashboard involved answering the following questions:

  • Have you presented the LAP to your local action group?
  • Have you presented the LAP to the local representative elected?
  • Has your LAP been finalised and approved by your Local Council?

Shortly afterward; cities were interviewed to find out more about their progress. We asked them the progress on their action plans, including details on their strategy and objectives. They shared stories about their successes, their challenges, and what their goals are for the future.

In the afternoon, the local team of Kumasi organised a city tour. We visited various sites where their urban experimentation took place, as well as the new community market.

Kumasi local coordinator explaining the experimentation the city has undertaken

Thursday the 24th of November

The last morning was dedicated towards developing new skills and tools. Melissa Kerim first presented city-by-city sources of financing. The presentation was followed by a workshop for delegation to understand the diverse potential funding sources, and for them to map out the ones they believe could be the most suitable to finance their LAP and repsond to their financing needs.

After a break, local coordinators wrote urse to pitch their Local Action Plan. Paired with another city, they then had present them their while the others had to give constructive feedbacks, embodying different stakeholders (national bank, private compagny, international bank…).

In the meantime, elected representative were speed-meeting to meet each other and foster bilateral relationships.

In the afternoon cities presented ASToN Alumni proposals and discuss in group to make them the most feasable as possible. The city of Bamako offered to host a meeting next years for cities to stay connected.

For the last session of this meeting we wanted to celebrate the work accomplished and to salute the diversity and the complicity of our group.
We presented awards to the cities, such as the most collaborative delegation. Each city had also brought a fruit from its country to compose the “ASToN Fruit Salad”, symbol of our diversity and richness. Then it was already time for the last speech of the director, the last circle of applauses and the last group pictures.

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