Ticad8 Summit: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida moves to elevate ties with Africa

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Ticad8 Summit: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida moves to elevate ties with Africa
Ticad8 Summit: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida moves to elevate ties with Africa

Africa-Press – Liberia. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor will lead the South African delegation at the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) Summit, scheduled to take place in Tunis, Tunisia, at the weekend.

The summit was organised by the government of Japan, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the AU Commission (AUC).

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who tested positive for Covid-19 recently, has cancelled plans to travel to Tunisia and will participate in the international summit virtually.

Department of International Relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the summit would highlight the close connection between Japan and Africa, as well as set out a pathway for African development, looking ahead to the post-pandemic era.

“It (the summit) will comprise the plenary sessions and the Japan-Africa Business Forum. The plenary sessions will be on the following topics: economy, society and peace and stability,” said Monyela.

“It will be attended by the African heads of state, the Japanese government as well as representatives of the private sector such as the Japan Business Federation, Japan Association of Corporate Executives, and others.”

The presentation of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize would be part of the programme.

“The main purpose of the prize is to honour individuals and organisations with outstanding achievements in the fields of medical research and medical services to combat infectious and other diseases in Africa, thus contributing to the health and welfare of the African people and of all humankind,” said Monyela.

Ticad7 was held in August 2019 in Yokohama City, Japan. There were more than 10 000 participants, including 42 African leaders, 52 development partner countries, 108 heads of international and regional organisations, and representatives of civil society and the private sector.

Then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe co-chaired the summit with President El-Sisi of Egypt, representing the AU.

Dr David Monyae, director of the Centre for Africa-China Studies at the University of Johannesburg, said Ticad8 was not taking place in a vacuum.

“It comes in the context of rising geopolitical tensions between the West and the East over trade and the Russia-Ukraine war. It would be counter-productive for Japanese and African leaders to approach each other along geopolitical lines. Japan-Africa relations have survived geopolitical shifts in the past and they are likely to outlive the current geopolitical conflict,” he said.

“It is important for both parties to cultivate the inherent value and potential of their relationship regardless of the prevailing geopolitical environment. Africa must maintain its strategic autonomy and avoid being swayed by Japan’s economic might.”

Monyae said Japan and Africa needed to work hard at publicising their partnership.

“Public consciousness of the Japan-Africa relations is minuscule due to lack of effective public communication and very scant media coverage compared to other summits. The Ticad must also do more to incorporate the civil society and grassroots organisations in its structures in order to shed its current elitist image. This will boost the legitimacy of the summit and its outcomes,” he said.

Monyae highlighted that since the inaugural Ticad Summit in 1993, Japan had made $47 billion available in Africa for the development of human capital, water supply, education, and health care.

“The Japanese foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in Africa grew from $758 million in 2000 to $10.5bn in 2014. According to the 2019 edition of the list of Japanese companies doing business in Africa, there are 563 Japanese companies operating in 54 African countries in industries like electronics, automobiles, textiles, and energy, among others,” said Monyae.

“This is evidence of Japan walking the talk. This represented more than 25% growth from 440 Japanese who were doing business in Africa in 2015. At the 6th Ticad Summit in Kenya in 2016, the late Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe committed to increasing Japanese investment in Africa by $30bn before pledging another $20bn at the 2019 summit in Yokohama.”

Monyae said these investments were critical for the transformation of Africa’s economic structure and the creation of jobs for hundreds of millions of Africa’s young people.

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