Decentralisation: Key to rapid development

Friday, February 15, 2019

Decentralisation is a complex and often somewhat elusive phenomenon. Many countries around the world have been grappling with this problem for several reasons and with varying degrees of intention and success to create sub-national governments.

In simple terms, decentralisation is the transfer of political, administrative, and legal authority or responsibility for planning, decision-making, resource allocation, and administering public functions from the central government to local government.

Africa is no exception to either the decentralisation trend or the reality of its complexity and diversity.

The Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality Council (KMC), Talib Bensounda in his recent remarks during the presentation of council position paper to the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission, made it abundantly clear that in order for the country to make headway in improving the living standards of its populace, there is need for people to focus more on decentralization of government, where local government authorities are better enhanced. This, he said, is the best way to ensure local authorities live up to the expectation of their people.

We all know local governments are created to better serve the people because they are closer to the communities. So it is important for central government to allocate subventions to local governments and on time, so as to spearhead meaningful development projects at the grassroots. It is a well-known fact that in The Gambia, most of our revenues lines have been centralized leaving the local governments’ handicapped.

There is much more than just mere talking about the issue. We need to initiate and come up with concrete actions. There is also the need for a consolidated plan of action on the implementation of decentralisation in The Gambia.

The success for this, however, will depend on the performance of all its constituent variables. The action plan should also contain agreed actions to be taken by all stakeholders aimed at consolidating the structures and building capacity in the system in the years ahead that will ensure that the process takes hold and delivers the expected results. Without the necessary capacity and resources, the process will take much longer to achieve its objectives.

The overall aim of decentralisation and good local governance is to enable citizens in their villages, towns, cities, districts and regions to participate in the creation of political and economic opportunities. The process will allow them access to national resources and expertise and help to protect the basic principles of local ownership, local control and local accountability over resources and decisions.

“I believe in decentralized management that includes a lot of delegation, empowerment, and accountability..”

Anthony Scaramucci