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My thoughts on criteria for new KCCA ED

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Added 23rd October 2018 11:14 AM

The new leader’ vision for the city should be colored by a sound assessment of where the city’s competitive advantages lie, so they can identify potential clusters of companies that can power growth.

My thoughts on criteria for new KCCA ED

The new leader’ vision for the city should be colored by a sound assessment of where the city’s competitive advantages lie, so they can identify potential clusters of companies that can power growth.


By Arch. Kenneth Ssemwogerere, PhD,

On October 15, 2018 the Executive Director Kampala Capital City Authority, Jennifer Musisi resigned after very illustrious seven years of service with great evidence of such an unprecedented changes in Kampala city.

The President is now faced with the task of appointing a new person. This decision in a way is a deal breaker given the precedence that Jennifer has set! That things can be done if any leader makes up their mind to do that which is for the good of his/her nation.

In a report by the McKinsey Academy based in New York entitled How to make a city great advice is given on how to city leaders ought to handle their task given that by 2030, 60 percent of the world's population will live in cities which could mean great things for economic growth.

The report highlights that Cities can transform themselves into great places to live and work by doing three things. The first one is Achieve Smart Growth which has four core directions i.e. Adopt a strategic approach; Plan for change; Integrate environmental thinking and Insist on opportunity for all.

The second is Do More With Less which includes: Assess and manage expenses rigorously; Explore partnerships; Introduce investment accountability and Embrace technology. And the third is Win Support For Change which requires the Crafting of a personal vision; Building a high performing team and; Creating a culture of accountability; Forging stakeholder consensus.

To understand the core processes and benchmarks that can transform cities into superior places to live and work, McKinsey's report developed and analyzed a comprehensive database of urban economic, social, and environmental performance indicators.

The research included interviewing 30 mayors and other leaders in city governments on four continents and synthesizing the findings from more than 80 case studies that sought to understand what city leaders did to improve processes and services from urban planning to financial management and social housing.

The author acknowledges picking some quotes from the report and relating them to our scenario for Your Excellence to consider in your appointment of the new ED.

It is likely that there are several lobbyists at this time vying to bring in persons for their own personal interest, but Sir, would you as you usually do transcend all other reasons and appoint a person that is so clear headed to pick up from where JM has stopped and spur this city to the highest ever status.

For sure by the 2021 elections there will be a positive effect in the ballot box for your Government.

This is for one simple reason is that Kampala dwellers have seen that positive change is possible and so it will not matter what the new City ED says at public gatherings, if he/she does not deliver more than JM again the masses will blame your Government. So your choice Sir is extremely important and such thoughts stated below are worth your attention.

At your leisure you could use these as criteria to score the CVs of all persons who are presented to you. Better still you could delegate a team of 3/5 very respected professional elders to vet the persons of your choice and recommend one.

First the issue of achieving smart growth. This will require a person that is creative and open to non-conventional means of delivering services to all urban dwellers. While all city leaders look for ways to promote their city's prosperity, what marks the best among them is the strategic manner in which they pursue that goal. 

Simply deciding without sufficient analysis that the city's future lies in the latest nascent industry, be it clean technology or biotechnology, is unlikely to have much impact. A more rigorous approach is required to identify the city's best growth prospects.

The new leader' vision for the city should be colored by a sound assessment of where the city's competitive advantages lie, so they can identify potential clusters of companies that can power growth.

Cities must then support growth by making targeted investments and offering a "client service" to businesses to help them flourish. This is so critical Your Excellence. This will rhyme very well with your vision of Job creation.

Different cities have different starting points. But each needs to decide which sectors can best support growth and focus on those. Economic growth is likely to be stronger if clusters of companies from a sector or sectors develop.

Here it is critical to highlight that the new ED must deeply understand the working of the Kampala informal sector which Your Excellence employs a lot of your "Bazukkulus".

These informal small cottage industries like the current furniture and metal road side fabricators must be engaged and given allotted spaces in the larger Kampala Metropoltian area.

They need not keep on the streets any longer for their clients, because of the need they have for their products will find them in a more organized park of some sort out of the busy CBD.

Cities can help attract companies and organizations to their chosen clusters by holding regular conversations with industry leaders; forging connections between businesses, investors, and talent; and organizing road shows and conferences.

The New ED shall play a leading role, using their convening power and connections and leading trade delegations that travel to target regions. JM had made great strides on this and so any new ED Your Excellence who comes in to disintegrate what JM had done for whatever reason such Sir you should not entertain.

Smart growth means planning for what lies ahead. The world has many examples of cities that have expanded rapidly without any kind of planning. The result is chaotic at best, but too often it also impedes further development and is detrimental to citizens' quality of life and the environment.

City leaders therefore need to be forward looking, planning for growing and changing populations and the impact on transportation, schools, hospitals, and many other aspects of city life.

They also need to make sure those plans can be adapted over time to reflect the changing needs of the city. The most effective cities adopt a regional perspective and make the planning process inclusive and flexible.

Good city leaders think about regional growth, not just city growth, for as the metropolis expands, they will need the cooperation of surrounding municipalities and regional service providers.

Without it, the result will likely be local competition and conflict, over- or underinvestment in infrastructure because of concerns about who pays for what and who benefits, and confusion over roles and responsibilities.

It is emphasised in the report that Cities are increasingly adopting flexible urban plans that serve as frameworks into which they fit projects proposed at a local level.

These plans are akin to a set of guiding principles to help planners to assess new proposals, rather than documents that determine the future once and for all. As a result, they evolve along with the city's changing needs while ensuring that the city continues to make progress toward long-term targets.

This kind of flexibility requires a great deal of skill, and cities that excel at urban planning have multidisciplinary planning departments.

Your Excellence the Department of Physical planning has really tried to do things differently from the former KCC. As Architects we have witnessed a lot of changes for the better. They can do more with the support of the incoming ED.

The report highlights that a great city's value proposition is not confined to luring business. It offers opportunities to all residents, seeks to reduce inequalities, and protect the vulnerable.

There are myriad ways to promote opportunity and quality of life for all. This can be a challenge for any ED but it would be worthwhile considering Your Excellence on the ability of the new ED to ensure opportunity for all hard working Kampala City Dwellers. There is need to connect the city outskirts.

Those living on city peripheries should have public transportation linking them to the centre. Kampala Public transport is still your Excellence way below what it should be and so your new appointment must appreciate and understand issues of urban transportation.

On the issue of doing more with less, it's common knowledge that few cities worldwide are awash with financial resources. On the contrary, their budgets are under pressure. A first step is therefore to secure all revenues due, and do so at low cost. A high-performing tax agency that strives to implement best practices in all its functions will help. So too will incentives.

This KCCA had made great strides only that in the last years due to a lot of political interference this has been lost.

Your Excellence there should be willingness on your part to allow the New City ED to handle some matters firmly without interference. As a fountain of honour just one word from yourself at a public forum can bring such a great change to the positive or negative side of things.

This was the case with some of JM's moves intended to move the city to higher grounds. Then, to make the most of the available resources, effective city leaders rigorously assess and manage expenses, explore private partnerships, introduce investment accountability, and embrace technology.

The constant aim is to do more with less. Cost-efficient operations are a hallmark of high performing cities in good times and bad. The elimination of waste and deployment of limited resources for maximum impact are therefore priorities at all times.

The report revealed that while many cities remain reluctant to enter private-public partnerships (PPPs), wary of giving away control of what they see as core functions to the private sector, potential job losses, and the quality of service delivered, successful city leaders have learned that, if designed and executed well, private-sector expertise harnessed within a PPP has the potential to deliver lower-cost, higher-quality infrastructure and services, making them an essential element of smart growth. As you are aware, Your Excellency KCCA has at least three PPPs in the pipeline one of which was actually already flagged off to do feasibility study by the PPP Committee in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

As such the New ED must be able to understand this new concept of PPPs as it will be such a boaster given the budget cuts in the city as the ED highlighted in her letter to you Sir.

Technological advances give city leaders the tools to collect vast quantities of data, which—if the right systems, structures, and people are in place—can be analysed and applied to help reduce capital and operating expenditures, increase revenues, and improve services.

There are many examples of cities that are doing the same. Smart technology is deployed to dim or turn up street lighting automatically by using real-time data on prevailing light conditions, saving as much as 30% on energy costs while still providing residents with safe lighting.

Cameras at intersections are used to optimize traffic lights and cut transit time while reducing air pollution and the costs of tackling it. And crime is reduced by analysing crime data and using predictive technology to indicate where illegal activity is likely to occur. Smart technology also means data from different government sources can be combined and analysed to reveal valuable insights.

Several leading cities are creating teams whose purpose is to do exactly this. Big data and smart technologies can also help engage citizens and business in the process of improving a city and its services. Your Excellency the point here is that please consider appointing a person who is well versed with what Technology is capable of doing and this has such a bearing on the age of the person.

The report cautions that many city leaders craft a personal vision that drives their endeavours. Yet however far-sighted the vision, its real value lies in the changes people come to see in their lives.

Achieving smart growth and doing more with less both deliver results. But no change effort is easy, and momentum can even attract opposition. Successful city leaders therefore need large reserves of resilience to see their vision through.

They never give up. But they cannot do it alone. To win long-term support for change, they will need to deliver results swiftly, and for that, they will need to build a high-performing team of civil servants, create a working environment where all employees are accountable for their actions, and take every opportunity to forge stakeholder consensus.

This reinforces the personal vision. Indeed, it is the means by which the vision will be ultimately realized. Your excellence if there is anything your daughter JM can be credited with it is this.

She has been able to painfully build a team of persons who have learned over the years to do things so differently from many Government institutions to the extent that at some point they created rivalry with some asking themselves whom do they think they are.

The point here is your Excellency, the new ED must seek a way to work with the team already established and not seek to dismantle the same. Off course there may be some bad elements that may have to be dealt away with, but on the whole it would be prudent to keep the team intact.

It is with this in mind that a submission lingers why not look for one of the Directors to take over from JM. It could be one of the possibilities but again Sir this is just advice which can be lightly considered.

Your Excellency on the whole, the new vacancy for KCCA ED as has been elaborately explained above is not for everybody and anybody.

Your usual careful and rigorous scrutiny may have to be brought to bear and tested to the max this time round.

We are however more than confident that as a listener to advice you will consider and select for the city and the nation the right person to take over the great work your daughter has done with your permission for the last seven and a half years. I beg to submit.

The writer is an Architect, SASA Infrastructure Group Limited and Lecturer at the Department of Architecture & Physical planning, Makerere Unversity and Course Coordinator, PPP Executive Short courses at CEDAT Makerere University



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