Like many countries, Nigeria has undergone decentralization of services, meaning that local officials must provide services that were handled by the state or national government in the past. One service area of particular importance in this populous and rapidly growing country is local economic development (LED).
ICMA’s work with Nigerian professionals in LED started in 2001, when ICMA designed and implemented a Cities Matter course covering the role of local government in economic development. A central theme throughout the course was that local governments play an essential role in economic development planning and implementation. The four-day course (delivered in Fairfax, Virginia) brought together state and local government officials from the State of Benue to discuss opportunities for local governments to
- Contribute to economic growth at the national level
- Discuss how effective management and legislative processes contribute to a stable economic climate, thus promoting balanced and equitable growth
- Explore effective practices that contribute to the delivery of essential services.
The delegates worked with professional and academic leaders in the fields of public administration, city management, and economic development.
Most recently, in 2012, ICMA delivered a five-day LED workshop for Nigerian professionals from local government and the private sector. The training presented an overview of U.S. practice and encouraged participants to explore ways to strengthen the local role in LED in Nigeria. After hearing presentations and completing exercises, participants developed SWOT analyses and action plans to initiate upon their return home.