African Leaders Court Japan for Infrastructure Support

Amidst questions about Chinese increasing infiltration of Africa, African leaders are this week interfacing with Japan on infrastucture financing and support.

Several presidents and top leaders of the African Union are participating in the annual conference holding in Japan. The Japanese appears to align with the West in the overall quest to stem the aggressive push of the Chinese into many traditional western areas of influence in Africa.

On Aug. 28, the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) gets underway in Yokohama. Holding from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30, TICAD7 is being co-chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, and is attended by delegations from African countries (including various heads of state), representatives of co-organizers of TICAD from the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations, World Bank, and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as well as more than 100 business leaders from both Japan and Africa, international organizations, developed and developing countries, aid agencies, members of civil society, and researchers who are gathering to discuss African development.

The first TICAD was held in Tokyo in 1993. This year, the conference returns to Japan after six years, as TICAD VI was convened in Africa for the first time in 2016. Held in Kenya against a background of strong economic growth and high rate of population growth, the conference attracted great interest in Africa’s potential for business development. Since then, the interest of Japanese companies in Africa has intensified, and the number of companies entering Africa has steadily increased.

With TICAD7, a central theme will be “science, technology and innovation.” In recent years, technologies such as mobile communications, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence have been adopted around the world, and efforts are being made to harness information communication technology to resolve social issues in Africa.

A new business model that is unique to Africa is already taking shape. This model makes use of new technologies, such as mobile money with mobile devices and use of GPS with drones to make deliveries of goods, and is attracting attention as a key to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) , enhancing the possibilities of future African development and business.

Considering these circumstances, discussions at TICAD7 will focus on the following three important issues:

(1) Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement;

(2) Deepening sustainable and resilient society;

(3) Strengthening peace and stability

JICA will support the TICAD process by making specific recommendations based on its field experience and knowledge in Africa.

During the four days from Aug. 27 to Aug. 30, JICA will also be hosting approximately 30 side events, which will be held at locations such as the Pacific Convention Plaza Yokohama, which will be the main venue for TICAD7, and the hotel InterContinental Yokohama Grand, and high-level meetings will be held with attending countries and organizations. Joint hosting and support is also being extended to more than 10 events being hosted by other institutions and organizations.

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