“…the mayors, whose names did not even feature in the official press release save for a picture caption”
The African Mayor Awards were awarded to three cities but little is known about the winning mayors. The cities of Accra in Ghana, Kinondoni in Tanzania and Praia in Cape Verde won the inaugural José Eduardo dos Santos African Mayor Awards.
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The 2nd Africa Urban Infrastructure Investment Forum was held in March 2015 in Luanda, Angola and formed the setting for the inaugural ‘José Eduardo dos Santos African Mayor Awards’. The African Mayor Awards programme “recognises, celebrates and rewards City leaders or Governors who display exemplary qualities such as good leadership, innovative thinking, excellent management capabilities and social awareness to foster economic growth and development”. The Awards also aim to raise the profile of Africa’s Mayors by honouring those who have made an outstanding contribution to their communities and developed a vision for urban living, working and visiting across Africa.
According to the Publisher of African Business magazine, Omar Ben Yedder, the winning cities are “led by individuals who are showing essential leadership qualities as they help build cities that work”. He adds that: “Our leaders need to be close to the people”.
The winning cities are:
- Accra in Ghana, mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuije ( > 1,000,000 people )
- Kinondoni in Tanzania,represented at the ceremony by Sarah Kyessi ( between 200,000 and 1,000,000)
- Praia in Cape Verde, José Ulisses Correia e Silva (< 200,000 people) mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuije
The prize winner received prize money totalling $350,000 for “specific initiatives”.
The winners were selected by a judging panel comprising of Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, General-Secretary of United Cities and Local Governments-Africa (UCLGA),Tokunbo Omisore, Chairman of the African Union of Architects, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for UNHabitat, Vitor Leonel Miguel, Chairman of the Angolan Architects Union and Gaetan Siew, Chair, Construction Industry Sector of Mauritius.
It is being supported by the Government of Angola, the UN-Habitat, the UCLG-A and the IC Publications Group. Earlier this year visionaries and forward-thinking city leaders, governors and mayors were invited to participate by highlighting their main achievements and vision for developing sustainable urban cities in Africa.
The awards however have not been without criticism, in part since the names of the mayors were not announced in the press. According to to a recent Guardian article the inaugural event suffered some “peculiar branding“. Writes David Smith for The Guardian: “Its formal name, apparently due to a last-minute change for reasons open to speculation, was the José Eduardo dos Santos African Mayor Awards. This gave the impression that it was more about promoting the Angolan president, who has ruled with an iron fist for the past 36 years, than the mayors, whose names did not even feature in the official press release save for a picture caption”.
Perhaps these awards will at best spark more interest in the winning cities, for mayors who are a still somewhat unknown with funding for “specific initiatives” not yet known.