Progress made at Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development

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Walter Muchinguri recently in Tokyo Japan

The two-day ministerial level Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development meeting that was held in Tokyo Japan last weekend noted tremendous progress in the implementation of resolutions made at the two previous meetings in 2013 and 2016.

At the last meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe pledged $30 billion investment for Africa under public-private partnerships over three years to this year.

This was almost similar to the $32 billion that Japan pledged at TICAD V in Yokohama in 2013 for five years up to 2017.

In his closing remarks Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono said Japan had managed to meet its $30 billion commitment within the first five years. 

He, however, said that the implementation of the other $32 million pledged in 2016 had been modest because of the issue of debt among African states.

“In 2016 we had to suspend borrowing due to worsening debt but last year the level of foreign direct investment shot up again,” he said.

“We need to conclude outstanding trade facilities for us to achieve the targets that we have set for ourselves.”

Apart from recognising the issue of debt sustainability as hindering progress in implementing previous TICAD programmes, the ministerial meeting noted the need for public and private partnership in view of positive macroeconomic trends and recent achievements such as the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

It also reaffirmed the need for economic diversification and value addition for sustainable development.

It identified areas such as modernisation of the agricultural sector, fostering of micro, small and medium enterprises and promotion of science, technology and innovation as critical in that respect.

The meeting also took note of the need to promote universal health coverage was key in enhancing resilience and productivity of societies.

Delegates to the meeting considered the issue of connectivity as a cross cutting theme and the need to enhance physical connectivity in terms of physical connectivity through quality and digital infrastructure. It also considered people to people connectivity through exchange of people through tourism, culture, sport and academia.

The meeting, which was organised by the Japanese Government, the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, African Union Commission, international organisations and donor countries, set the stage for TICAD 7 to be held in Yokohama, Japan in August next year that would be attended by heads of states.

It was attended by 2 100 people from 52 countries, 24 of which were represented by their foreign ministers.

The other participants were drawn from development partners, international organisations, local authorities, representatives of civil societies, and private companies. 

TICAD was established in 1993 and was held every five years in Japan until 2013 when the period was cut to three years. In 2016 the meeting was held on African soil for the first time and a decision was taken then that the hosting of the TICAD will alternate between Japan and Africa. The TICAD is premised on the philosophy of Africa’s ownership and International community partnership. One of its successes has been the African Business Education initiative mooted in 2013 which has seen over 1220 young African entrepreneurs being trained in Japan and Africa on business and leadership.

Japan, which has a few natural resources has grown into a major economic power due to the development of it human resource and the ability of its people to take ownership of their country’s development.

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