Sithole Mbanga

Chief Executive Officer


South African Cities Network

Established in 2002 as a non-profit company (NPC) registered in South Africa, the South African Cities Network (SACN) was founded by the mayors of South Africa’s largest cities and key strategic partners. Its vision is to promote high-performing and innovative cities that are well-governed, productive, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient.


The SACN’s strategic intent is to enhance its value offering to cities and make the organization more effective, impactful and relevant through:

  • Cutting edge research on urban management and governance: the knowledge pillar – which supports cities to become learning institutions through knowledge generation, dissemination and application.
  • Peer-to-peer knowledge exchange: the learning and innovation pillar – where SACN facilitates shared learning among cities and all other stakeholders through the all-of-society and whole-of-government approaches.
  • Voice and Advocacy: the advocacy pillar – where the collective voice of cities is amplified and enabled through evidence-based knowledge and advocacy.
  • Partnerships: SACN is a partnership platform that promotes an all of society approach to urban development and city management.
  • Organizational Sustainability: by having the right strategy and capabilities to mitigate risk, take advantage of opportunities, ensure financial sustainability and a well-governed network.

The South African Cities Network puts forward its wealth of 20 years’ cutting-edge research in urban management and governance, experience in convening, coordinating and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues and establishing platforms that address the most pressing and pertinent issues facing South African cities.

In the Sustainable and Resilient Cities Programme of the South African Cities Network (SACN), we are developing guidelines for accessing climate finance for South African Cities. Aimed at city decision-makers and practitioners, the guidelines seek to provide step-by-step directions on how to access, allocate and spend climate finance effectively and make cities aware of the multiple opportunities and facilities available to help finance their climate mitigation and adaptation actions. The guidelines will be contextualised within the governance and institutional dynamics that exist in South African cities, their capacity needs in project planning and project preparation, and will be grounded within the spatial inequality, poverty, informality, infrastructure needs and other critical urban challenges which South African cities are grappling with.

The second relevant project focuses on providing guidelines on how South African cities can incorporate and mainstream Nature-based Solutions into their spatial planning, budgeting and implementation processes, to not only address the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss in urban areas, which are negatively affecting cities, but to also contribute to the imperatives of the country’s Just Transition Framework, which highlights the need for the emergence and strengthening of sectors that can create and sustain jobs and add new skills in the transition to a low-carbon, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economy and society in South Africa. The output of this project will be a set of guidelines which directs cities on how to incorporate and mainstream Nature-based Solutions and points cities in the right direction for accessing finance for projects that incorporate Nature-based Solutions. The project will further be structured to facilitate well-curated study tours to cities in South Africa and regionally, which are successfully incorporating nature-based solutions in their planning, budgeting and project implementation processes in innovative ways.

Other CCFLA members can learn about the SACN’s work through our website, particularly our knowledge hub and case studies sections, our social media platforms (@SACitiesNetwork on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) as well as our knowledge exchange events, a lot of which are open and free to anyone who is interested in what is happening in South African Cities.

It has been difficult to identify sources of information for city-level finance, but some of the ways we have been doing that is engaging with some of our cities on the funds they have been able to access, for example, the City of Johannesburg has been granted financing from the Global Environment Facility, while the eThekwini Municipality (Durban) has been able to access funding from the C40 Cities Finance Facility and all of our participating cities have been able to get some targeted technical assistance on project preparation from the World Bank. Apart from Cities themselves, we get information by following different organisations on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, and more recently, we have come across the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (CCFLA).

By joining CCFLA, the South African Cities Network (SACN) hopes to:

  1. Gain access to climate finance related expertise and resources that will assist our member cities bridge the climate finance and capacity gap that exists;
  2. Connect our member cities to peer-to-peer learning platforms with Cities around the world which they would not ordinarily come in contact with, to share lessons with; and finally
  3. Leverage on the opportunity to interact with and join forces with climate change leaders and advocates from different sectors, with a common goal of advancing the needs of those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in cities and accelerating action for enabling finance flows.

The South African Cities Network (SACN) hopes to bring the perspective of Global South cities and, in particular, the experience of South African cities in tackling the multiplicity of challenges they face, not least of all, climate change impacts and infrastructure backlogs and maintenance, to name a few.

We also hope to bring our experience in coordinating, convening and facilitating peer-to-peer knowledge exchange events and multi-stakeholder dialogues, where city experiences and lessons among city practitioners and various stakeholders are shared.

In addition, the SACN hopes to bring its experience in corralling the collective voice of cities to advocate for the urban agenda among different stakeholders and urban actors.