Decentralization and urbanization have been changing the relationship between the state and local governments, and between local government and residents. This panel focuses on local government to understand how decentralization and urbanization have influenced society and politics in Africa.
This panel aims to examine the changing role of local government in decentralizing and urbanizing time in Africa in comparative perspectives. What have decentralization and urbanization brought impacts on African politics and society in addition to democratization since the 1990s? The convener of this panel has studied international cooperation of local governments (coopération décentralisée, called in Francophone countries) between African local governments and non-African local governments, and among African local governments. Decentralization encourages international cooperation among local governments around the world, especially in Africa. Urbanization has been expanding the gap between strong urban local governments and weak rural local governments as the devolution process progressed. Decentralization and local cooperation have certainly influenced the mode of local politics and the behavior of local actors. Decentralization and urbanization also might change the relationship between the state and local governments, and between local government and its residents. For instance, the political influence of elected mayors of big cities, especially the capital cities, became much stronger in decentralization. It is an appropriate timing to focus on local governments in order to reflect on the cultural, economic, political, and social transformation in decentralizing and urbanizing Africa.