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Local Governments across Africa Highlight Innovative Governance Practices

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2009—The World Bank is responding to calls from African countries to help improve governance at the local level.

Through a new Bank-financed initiative, the Local Government Competition of Excellence, or COPEGOL, communities across Africa are being recognized for innovations in governance practices.

“With the current wave of decentralization in Africa, local governments are increasingly playing an important role in development,” said Serdar Yilmaz, a senior social development economist at the World Bank and team leader for the COPEGOL project. “Success in reaching development objectives will therefore very much depend on transforming local governments into centers of excellence. This is what this competition is about.”

Creating Healthy Competition among Communities

Being piloted in three countries (Guinea, Rwanda and Burkina Faso), the competition known in French as Competition Pour l’Excellence dans la Gouvernance Locale, awards local governments in six categories: planning, budgeting, procurement, service delivery, monitoring-evaluation, and auditing.

Submissions from the governments are assessed on indicators of participation, transparency, accountability, innovation, socio-economic impact and sustainability. A national jury identifies the twelve highest-scoring practices as semifinalists. Each of these is then visited for further verification and final scoring until six winners emerge.

In each country, the competition is coordinated by the local government association, with support from the Ministry of Decentralization/Local Administration and others.

“I welcome and encourage this initiative that will allow for a healthy competition between territorial collectivities in order to identify and encourage good practices by elected representatives in their municipalities,” Mr. Soungalo Ouattara, minister delegate in charge of Territorial Collectivities, said during the launch of COPEGOL in Burkina Faso in August 2008.

Improving Lives through Improved Governance

COPEGOL was launched by the Governance and Accountability Team of the World Bank’s Social Development Department. The $650,000 initiative is financed by the Trust Fund for Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development, or TFESSD.

The first awards ceremony took place in Rwanda in November 2008 at the Innovation Day for local governments in Kigali. The event drew hundreds of guests, including local government authorities, governors, government officials, members of parliament, civil society representatives and media.

Examples of awardees included the Rwamagana District, which won first place and US$20,000 in technical and material assistance for an innovative, income-generating rabbit breeding and banana growing project. In just one year, the initiative allowed hundreds of families to increase their revenues – thereby increasing opportunities for children to attend school.

The local government of Remera Sector (one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kigali) was also prized for its successful partnership with resident communities in the planning, financing and building of a bridge which now allows for continuous passage during times of flooding.

“COPEGOL allows local governments to document their innovative practices,” said Chantal Rwakazina, a member of the Rwandese Association of Local Government (RALGA). “[It is also] a great way to build capacity of local government representatives in Rwanda by disseminating good practices.”

In Guinea, the competition gathered about 100 submissions from both rural (Communautes Rurales de Developpment - CRD) and urban (Communes Urbaines – CU) municipalities. Prized practices included participatory planning and budgeting initiatives, budget transparency activities, as well as inventive partnerships between communities and local government for local development projects.

“We hope that the work of the local leaders rewarded today will inspire their peers and encourage them to do even better,” World Bank Country Manager for Guinea Siaka Bakayoko said in his opening speech at the award ceremony in Conakry May 29.

A Joint Effort

Despite a coup d’état in Guinea and administrative limits in some local governments, COPEGOL has been a success. Local ownership and a high dedication from partners have contributed. Currently, the program is awaiting additional funding in order to expand the competition beyond Guinea, Rwanda and Burkina Faso. Among COPEGOL’s partners:

  • In Guinea: UNDP/FENU, the French Cooperation, the USAID-funded projects Faisons Ensemble, the U.S. Embassy, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as Bank-supported rural and urban programs (Programme d'Appui aux Communautés Villageoises (PACV) and the Troisième Projet de Développement Urbain (PDU3)).
  • In Rwanda: the Ministry of Finance, the National University of Rwanda, the Institut de Recherche pour le Dialogue et la Paix (IDRP) and the USAID-supported Twubakane Project.
  • In Burkina Faso: the Ministry of Administration and Territorial Collectivities and the Association des Maires du Burkina Faso (AMBF).

For more information on COPEGOL, visit: or contact members of the World Bank’s COPEGOL team: Serdar Yilmaz (, Sylvie Mahieu ( and Asli Gurkan (

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