• The African continent is moving from aid reliance to self-sustainability with support from various development partners including Japan.

    On Tuesday (July 19), the Royal African Society (RAS) in association with the Government of Japan held talks to brainstorm on how Japan can work with African nations to attain development.

    The event, called ‘Japan and Africa: A new kind of relationship?’ took place in London and focused on the agendas that will be discussed during the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI), which will be held in Nairobi next month. TICAD VI will take place from 27-28 August.

    The event featured Prof Akihiko Tanaka of University of Tokyo who is also former President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

    Speaking ahead of the event, Prof Tanaka expressed his optimism about African countries noting that they will become invaluable to Japan in the coming decades, as growing business partners with huge market potential.

    “Throughout the period since Japan started the TICAD process in 1993, Japan has consistently worked closely with the governments and peoples of Africa for sustainable and inclusive development,” he said.

    On his part, the Chief Finance Officer and Vice President of the African Development Bank Charles Boamah said the event will offer a good platform to bolster discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change.

    “TICAD VI is happening in less than a year after important global agreements on SDGs and Climate Change. Arguably the greatest opportunities for positive actions to meet these global targets are in Africa, which is why deeper and innovative relationships with development partners such as Japan will be critical,” said Boamah.

    Commenting on the Nairobi summit, Prof Tanaka says that the meeting will be used to map a “continuation of what has been successful and what are needed. This means we need to continue to emphasize the development of new infrastructure including energy, electricity and continued emphasis on agriculture in Africa.”

    To strengthen the trend of African development in the first decade of the 21st Century, Japan will work closely with the continent through various ways including improving human capacity, developing infrastructure and encouraging the private sector to increase investment. He added: “To do this, we need to improve efforts to deal with the decline in prices of primary products like oil; strengthen primary healthcare, and tackle the forces of violent extremism which have spread to parts of Africa.”

    Powering Africa

    The role played by electricity in development cannot be underestimated. The continent still lags behind due to challenges associated with connectivity.

    Charles Boamah said: “The priorities must be: to light up and power Africa, tackling the energy deficit; to feed Africa, looking at the whole food chain and improving productivity in agriculture; to industrialise Africa, tackling its low contribution to industrial trade; to integrate Africa, improving intra-regional trade; and to improve the quality of lives of Africans, in terms of jobs and skills.

    “These must be done according to the principles behind TICAD – ownership and partnership. TICAD and Japan have always recognized that development starts with ownership of the process by Africans, with support from our partners and friends.”

    Japan has continued to support commitments aimed at promoting peace and stability in Africa through collaborative partnerships for over twenty years. The emphasis of this partnership has always been on African ownership of Africa’s future and ensuring that global commitments from the international community are upheld.

    Image credit: Forbes