Nov 11, 2011, 2:11 PM
The fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) officially opened in Yokohama, Japan, Saturday with the country’s prime minister pledging to support African growth with approximately US$ 32 billion in aid.
Under the overarching theme of “Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa”, the three-day discussions will be focused on three themes: “Robust and Sustainable Economy,” “Inclusive and Resilient Society” and “Peace and Stability.”
Representatives from Japan, African countries including President Yahya Jammeh, international organizations, donor countries, the private sector and civil society will produce an action plan including specific actions by Africa, Japan and the international community at the three-day international conference.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his opening remarks that Japan will provide a new aid package worth about 3.2 trillion yen (about 32 billion US dollars) for Africa, including official development assistance, over the next five years.
The aid package includes offering about 650 billion yen in loans to help build the basic infrastructure and launching a new program to train young people in Africa.
The program namely, African Business Education Initiative for Youth (The ABE Initiative), will give 1,000 young African students opportunities to study at Japanese universities and work as interns at Japanese companies.
The country wants to accelerate capacity development infrastructure, human resource development, science and technology and tourism.
Mr Shinzo also urged countries to focus on private sector investment through focusing on private public partnerships to leverage investment.
“If we recognise this as a new reality, then it will be necessary to revolutionise the way of providing assistance to Africa,” he said.
He also said Japan will also underwrite a maximum of US$2 billion of trade insurance in Africa.
Through the preparatory process for the conference, African countries were asked to state areas that should receive the greatest emphasis at present.
The responses were the same as always–further development of infrastructure, business-savvy human capacities, health, and agriculture.
Included in the support is US$650 billion, which Japan will provide to build infrastructure over the next five years.
He further said the support will also empower farmers as mainstream economic actors for agriculture, food and nutrition security, promoting sustainable and resilient growth in environment, climate change and disaster prevention.
Mr Shinzo said the country has also pledged support in Overseas Development Assistance of around 1.4 trillion yen and other public and private resources of around US$16 billion This will be allocated to developing the infrastructure that Africa itself deems necessary.
The country will also invite administrative officials from Africa to Japan in order to create essential systems for advancing public-private partnerships.
Speaking at the same function, African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazani Dlamini Zuma said the TICAD V conference will adopt two main documents, including the Yokohama Declaration 2013 and the Yokohoma of Action 2013- 2017, as a consensus was reached for their adoption and submission to the summit for endorsement.
Earlier, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said Africa has achieved great progress on the Millennium Development Goals, saying many countries understand the value of investing in people.
The TICAD V is co-hosted by the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UNOSAA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
The first TICAD was hosted in 1993. Since then, a summit-level conference has been held in Japan once every five years.