Sister Cities International’s Sino-African Initiative (SAI), a two-year program funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was designed to address the manner in which Chinese, African, and U.S. cities can collaborate on economic development and urban poverty issues in Africa. By working with Chinese, African, and U.S. public diplomacy networks, local municipal governments, and businesses, this initiative aimed to create strategies that ensured development and poverty alleviation projects addressed community needs, and promoted transparent business practices and government accountability.

Activities for this program included research and program design, conference and training sessions, and exchanges and construction. In 2012, Sister Cities International staff completed research on trilateral cooperation by analyzing national, sector, and urban related government policies in U.S., China, and African countries as well as interviewing relevant experts and government officials. With research results that indicated potential for trilateral collaboration, SAI proceeded with three trilateral sister city pilot projects focused on water, health, and sanitation in 2013. U.S. cities with both African and Chinese sister cities submitted proposals for SAI, and distinguished external judges then selected proposals that demonstrated strong sister city relations and project potential.

Sister Cities International held its opening Sino-African Initiative Conference in Nairobi, Kenya from January 30-February 2, 2013. It served as a platform for all three U.S.-African-Chinese trilateral partnerships to learn more about the larger context of their projects, share knowledge between cities, and plan out the details of their trilateral projects. The conference concluded with Memorandum of Understanding signings between the trilateral partnerships to pledge to their projects. Implementation of the three pilot projects occurred during 2013. Each project had construction and exchange components. The construction provided additional infrastructure for the cities and the exchanges offered opportunities for knowledge sharing between the cities. The successful trilateral projects concluded by February 2014, with a Sino-African Initiative Closing Conference in Washington, DC during March 2014.

For more details, flip through our publication on the Sino-African Initiative. Click on the image below to get started!