REFRAME: Aligning Africa’s Urban Agenda

Covid-19 manifests most intensely in cities. As the pandemic unfolds, pre-existing urban problems – especially in cities of the global South – are rendered in stark relief  e.g. the chronic lack of access to basic services such as water and sanitation, the inadequacy of primary healthcare infrastructure, and most worryingly, the precarity of livelihoods of urban majorities embedded in informal economic circuits. The mobilisation of public and societal resources represents an opportunity to take a longer view and refocus efforts to actively promote sustainable urbanism as a essential development strategy for African cities and countries.

Against this backdrop the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, along with supporting partners Alfred Herrhausen GesellschaftDark Matter Labs, the Gothenburg Centre for Sustainable Development and PEAK Urban, present the REFRAME Conversations Series to promote informed debate and proposition on how best we can programmatically advance sustainable and inclusive African cities. The Conversation Series, hosted free of charge online, takes place weekly from 23 September to 21 October 2020 and seeks to provide a set of coordinates for multilateral partners, knowledge institutions, social movements, governments, networks and concerned business to gravitate around.

According to Edgar Pieterse, Director of the African Centre for Cities, the intention is to equip all stakeholders to influence policy formulation processes at a pan-African scale, between Africa and Europe, US and Asia, at national and local levels. It seeks to make plain the urban conditions it will take to achieve the urgent goals of Agenda 2063, the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

“While we note that significant policy progress has been made since a decade ago, reflected most clearly in the adoption of National Urban Policies/Plans in at least 21 African countries, the quality and focus of these NUPs leave a lot to be desired and we have we have seen very limited progress on the democratic decentralisation front,” Pieterse explains. “The REFRAME Conversations Series serves as a critical resource for civil society and development institutions to forge common purpose on how best to engage political leaders in order to achieve dramatic policy change in the short and medium-term.”

REFRAME is designed to bring together a relatively small number of African leaders from diverse sectors who have practice-based views on how we can radically improve the quality of urban policy and action. These leaders come from the worlds of public policy, private initiative, academia, think tanks, social movements, development finance institutions, professional associations, the arts and innovation hubs. To ensure that deliberations will not simply be panels where participants offer precooked ideas to a converted audience, attendees are offered a debate primer at the outset of the series and provocations for each of the sessions.


REFRAME 1: African Cities and Agenda 2063
Edgar Pieterse | Carlos Lopes | Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr OBE
23 September 2020
1:00 to 2:30pm CAT

REFRAME 2: Political Economy of Urban Transformation
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi | Hastings Chikoko | Astrid Haas | Taibat Lawanson
30 September 2020
2:00 to 3:30pm CAT

REFRAME: Sustainable Infrastructure as the key to success
Edlam Yemeru | Claude Borna | Lesley Ndlovu | Stefan Atchia
7 October 2020
2:00 to 4:00pm CAT

REFRAME: Civic Power
Michael Uwemedimo |  Joy Mboya | Mandisa Dyantyi  | Gaétan Siew
14 October 2020
2:00 to 4:00pm CAT

REFRAME: Innovative Regulation is Transformative Politics
Indy Johar |  Mark Swilling | Oumar Sylla | Sue Parnell
21 October 2020
2:00 to 4:00pm CAT