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The 2nd Franco-Beninese “Assises” of decentralized cooperation revitalize the partnerships between territories

1 December 2016

From 4 to 5 November, the City of Cotonou hosted the 2nd Franco-Beninese “Assises” of decentralized cooperation, which brought together nearly 300 participants, including representatives from 15 French communities and 67 Beninese municipalities (out of 77), as well as representatives of Belgian local and regional governments’ associations.
These 2nd Assises were organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Governance of Benin (MDGL), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the French National Commission for Decentralized Cooperation, the National Association of Benin municipalities (ANCB) and Cités Unies France (CUF).
The themes chosen were “Working together for more efficient local services”, “Cooperating in order to better manage resources” and “Involving economic actors and populations in the development of the territory”.
The opening session was attended by Léhady Soglo, Mayor of Cotonou host city, Véronique Brumeaux, Ambassador of France in Benin, and Luc Atropko, President of the National Association of Municipalities of Benin and Mayor of Bohicon. The respective missions and objectives of the participants were presented by Rose-Marie Saint Germes Akar, President of the CUF Country Group and Vice-President of the Communauté d’Agglomération de Cergy-Pontoise, Bernard Lesterlin, MP of Allier region, Chairman of the France-Benin Parliamentary Friendship Group, Bertrand Fort, Delegate of the Delegation for External Action of Local and Regional Authorities, and Abel N’Tcha Koutoucou, Director of Cultural Relations, Decentralized Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. Barnabé Z. Dassigli, Minister of Decentralization and Local Governance, concluded this introductory session.
The plenary sessions and workshops allowed presentations in a spirit of dialogue that was sometimes straightforward but always with a remarkable concern for sharing intelligence and friendship. The French authorities have expressed their interest in mutualisation in France or in Benin for a rapprochement of territories. The support of PLATFORMA, the European Commission, local governments and the Walloon (UVCW) and Dutch (VNG) associations, extended the debates to the European framework. Technical and financial partners took the floor, including the French Development Agency (AFD).
If a number of concerns had previously been expressed about resources (for example water), new objectives linked to the imperatives of climate change have emerged in the interest of better management (water, as well as energy or waste).
New Beninese actors have greatly enriched the Assises with their experiences (of Women Entrepreneurs, the network of Women elected, or Young entrepreneurs…) thus demonstrating new and mobilizing mobilizations in the themes of cooperation.
Structurally objectives were outlined:

  • Adding to the traditional north-south cooperation, the search for reciprocity, such as, for example, academic cooperation which encourages the pursuit of higher education in France by young Beninese
  • Strengthen the position of the Benin municipal councils in modernized development and governance schemes, as close as possible to the needs and dynamics of the territories
The Closing of the Assises highlighted the numerous proposals made during the sessions, which were convincingly summarized by the President of the ANCB, referring to the establishment of a group of Benin parliamentarians to promote territorial action to the government, CUF for the creation of a France Country Group and more frequent intermediate meetings between the Assises.