Kigali is hosting the 89th meeting of the Bureau of the International Association of French-speaking mayors (AIMF), an important local government platform established back in 1979 with view to establishing and deepening cooperation among member cities.
The forum is an opportunity for participating cities and mayors to share experiences in urban development and human security matters and to agree on best practices to advance shared goals and aspirations.
The meeting was preceded by a special session of AIMF member cities in the Great Lakes Region (Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda) during which participants discussed common challenges and threats that are peculiar to this region, especially in peace and security, cross-border trade, and development.
The sub-regional AIMF platform brings together 16 mayors from DR Congo’s Kinshasa, Goma, Bukavu, Béni, Butembo, Uvira, Bunia, Kisanganai, Lubumbashiand Kalemie. Others are Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, Gitega, and Ngozi, as well as Rwanda’s Kigali, Rubavu, and Rusizi.
Most of these cities are situated in border districts or provinces and therefore the role of their leaders in helping to address issues that threaten the development aspirations of the people of the Great Lakes Region cannot be overemphasised.
The three countries are located in one of the continent’s most volatile region and discussing and working together to tackle such threats as negative forces that continue to wreak havoc in the region and restrictions on cross-border movement of people and goods is the way forward.
If these regional cities succeeded in working together it would even help revive stalled projects under the Communauté Économique des Pays des Grand Lacs (CEPGL), another sub-regional organisation that brings together Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda.
AIMF would eventually be rendered irrelevant if member cities in the same neighbourhood cannot work together in defence of the same values and goals for which the association was created.
Indeed, there could not have been a more fitting theme for the meeting than ‘Living Together’. Neither could there have been a more fitting period for the theme.