African School on Decentralisation 2021

Focus: Decentralisation and Development in Africa

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African School on Decentralisation: 

The Inaugural African School on Decentralisation was held on-line during 16-27  August 2021.  An amount of 25 participants representative of 25 different countries on the African continent were selected for participation. To see the programme click on this link.


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Postal Address

South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Development
Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag X17

For any queries please contact

Dr Shehaam Johnstone
+27 (0)21 959 2950 / 51


2021 Course Description

Decentralisation and Development in Africa

In 2021 the course focused on the interrelationship between decentralisation and development. The following themes were addressed:

  • An analysis of the different forms of decentralisation, federal arrangements and local government within the global context were offered.  The presentations and panel discussions focused on the key objects of decentralisation, which include:
    • Democracy
    • Peace-making
    • Human rights
    • Development

The following questions were considered:

  • What is the theory and practice of development? How should development be understood? What are the global trends, such as the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs) and is there a different perspective from the global South.
  • How are the objectives of decentralisation and development brought together in Africa? The African Union Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local Governance and Local Development (African Charter on Decentralisation), adopted in 2014 and yet to come into operation, will be a key instrument to be examined.
  • Are there particular pre-conditions that  would favour development in Africa, and what is the role of  subnational governments (states, provinces, local authorities) in this respect:
    • Peace and security
    • Democracy
    • Rule of law
  • What is the role of subnational governments in Africa in advancing development? What is the concept of local economic development (LED) and how has it been given effect to in practice?  How is such development related to social and cultural development?
  • The practice of decentralisation and development will be examined in a number of case studies:
    • South Africa
    • Ethiopia
    • Nigeria
    • Kenya
    • Zimbabwe
  • What are the common trends, challenges, good practices and successes that we can learn from the case studies?


The working language will be English.

Assessment & Certification

The African School on Decentralisation offers a postgraduate certificate to be awarded to successful applicants who meets the academic assessment criteria.

Apply for the 2022 course

Costs for the 2021 Course

Costs covered by the organisers

  • Accommodation and meals

Costs not covered by the organisers

  • Travel expenses to and from Cape Town
  • Visa fees
  • Health Insurance
  • Personal travel expenses within Cape Town
  • Personal expenses during stay in Cape Town


  • A limited number of bursaries will be awarded, based on need, to cover an economy class return ticket to Cape Town. Refer to the application form for further information.

Key dates

The deadline for submission of applications is 31 JANUARY 2021.

Activity Due Date

Submit Online Application

31 January 2021
Notification of Acceptance 29 February 2021
Registration and Confirmation of participation 7 March 2021


Venue: What to expect in Cape Town (2022)

Cape Town is a beautiful coastal city in the south west of South Africa that lies at the southern-most tip of Africa. The city is both a vibrant metropolitan hub and a retreat. Large shopping malls such as the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Mall offer a vibrant shopping experience with both locals and tourists.

The nearby Table Mountain and game reserves offer a wide range of outdoor activities from hiking to dirt-biking and safari tours. From the top of Table Mountain one gets a breath taking view of the city, and busy harbour. Under clear blues skies, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela and countless other freedom fighters were held during apartheid) is clearly visible from the top of the mountain, and only a boat ride away.

For more information on Cape Town tourism, click here Click here to view some drone footage of Cape Town

Addis Ababa 2023

The next African School on Decentralisation will take place in 2023 in Addis Ababa.

Over 6700 km away from Cape Town, lies Addis Ababa, in the Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, which has been described by some as the ‘lively city of contrasts’. A rapidly developing infrastructure and services sector, which is home to numerous international organisation’s headquarters including the African Union and United Nations.

Home to the 3.2 million-year-old skeleton, ‘Lucy’, Addis Ababa is rich in history and culture, with numerous exotic restaurants for the curious food lovers. Music and dance echo into night, while spicy flavours waft in the air. Injera (flat bread made with teff flour), and doro wot (spicy stewed meat), and kifto (seasoned ground beef served uncooked) are not to be missed. These dishes are filled with flavour and made the traditional way. One cannot miss the buna (road side coffee stalls), and coffee ceremonies with freshly ground beans grown and roasted in Ethiopia.

For more on Addis Ababa tourism, click here

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