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Africa in the driver's seat: The TICAD process and the road to the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

Time (GMT +00) 13:00 14:15


H.E. Mr Nobutake Odano - Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for TICAD IV


H.E. Mrs Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar - High Commissioner for the United Republic of Tanzania to the United Kingdom

Prof. Myles Wickstead - Former Head of Secretariat, Commission for Africa, and Visiting Professor (International Relations), Open University


Simon Maxwell - Director, ODI

How can the international community be ready to face the new risks faced by Africa in 2008? Specifically, what can Japan do to make Africa ‘better’? How can Africa capitalise on its ‘booming’ ecomony?

1. H.E. Mr Nobutake Odano made the TICAD IV Ministerial Preparatory Meeting in Gabon the focus for his discussion, praising the 51 African countries who were represented at the meeting and highlighting how the attendance of 30 Ministerial-level representatives is a ‘clear indication of high expectation’ amongst African leaders as the continent looks towards TICAD IV and the G8 Hokkaido summit. At this meeting the Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumara set out Japan’s new initiatives for Africa as Japan moved towards the summit. These initiatives comprised seven objectives:

  1. Strengthening regional infrastructure on roads and power – as set out in the recent Tokyo Infrastructural Consortium in March;
  2. The use of ODA to trigger Africa’s private sector with initiatives such as Africa–Asia business forums;
  3. A focus on prevention and eradiation of infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS;
  4. The promotion of maternal and newborn health and health sector resources;
  5. Education for All;
  6. The promotion of safe drinking water and sanitation as part of the UN’s theme for 2008;
  7. The consolidation of peace in areas experiencing conflict, such as Chad where Japan aided civilian police in their peacekeeping activities.

The meeting also considered one of the biggest threats to Africa: climate change. As the continent ‘most vulnerable’ to the effects of climate change yet producing the least emissions of carbon dioxide the challenge of climate change is felt by Africa and Japan alike. Japan is to focus on facilitating policy consultations in order to reach an agreement with African nations on how they can reduce greenhouse gases without reducing economic growth. Japan proposes to give $10 billion to aid the environmental cause in developing countries, including Africa.

The ensuing discussion indicated that African leaders clearly possess ‘a sense of direction with Japan’s new proposals’. Japan itself has entered into detailed consultation with Africans, with regional preparation meetings in countries such as Tunisia and Zambia.

2008 is an ‘Africa-intensive’ year for Japan with a number of events demonstrating the importance of the continent for Japan. This involved Foreign Minister Koumara visiting Tanzania in order to articulate Japanese foreign policy; the presentation madeby Prime Minister Fukuda at Davos on Africa and climate change in Japanese policy; the AU summit; the Ministerial Preparatory Conference in Gabon; and TICAD IV in May. The aim is to enhance the momentum of Japan’s programmes in Africa in moving towards the attainment of the MDGs. Further, Japan will focus on consolidating partnerships between stakeholders in Africa.

2. Professor Myles Wickstead spoke of the relevance of TICAD in 2008 following its much-needed inception in 1993 in the midst of ‘aid fatigue.’ The importance of TICAD is confirmed in four ways:

  1. TICAD IV theme of a ‘vibrant Africa’ which resonates with all who know the continent;
  2. The emphasis on regional links – in particular economic links. This shows a great consistency between the AU and TICAD.
  3. The number of different processes ‘pushing in the same directions’ – seen in 2005 with the Gleneagles Summit, Commission for Africa and Paris Declaration and which TICAD is part of.
  4. The general aid environment and the realisation that sustaining previous commitments to African aid is going to be difficult given the current economic climate and corresponding rise in oil and food prices.

Japan faces two challenges:

  1. How to link TICAD with G8 to ensure it is not seen as Japan’s separate ‘buy-in’
  2. For TICAD and the G8 Summit to present a ‘firm call’ to action for the UN Summit in September in order to send the ‘strongest possible signals’ that the international community is committed to the MDGs.

In conclusion, the TICAD process is an extremely valuable one as long as it becomes a more continuous process rather than one that peaks every five years. He also emphasises the centrality of the African diaspora as a focus for development and the need for Africans to produce high-quality goods effectively in order to help lift trade restrictions.

3. H.E. Mrs Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar calls TICAD ‘a very good thing’ for Africa which has ‘helped raised the flag’ for the continent, particularly in the 1993 ‘donor fatigue’ context. In tandem with NEPAD, TICAD has helped promote the ownership of the developmental process for Africans in a region which is seeing a new form of leadership based on good governance principles, a reorganised AU with effective leadership and continued economic development. In short, Africa ‘couldn’t ask for more’ from TICAD.

Africa is experiencing what has been called a ‘commodity boom’ in Africa and could benefit greatly from international interest in its commodities and from entering a competitive market. ‘Is Africa poised to take advantage of the challenges posed by the commodity boom?’ she asks. In order to facilitate these potential benefits the Ambassador called upon TICADTICAD to continue working with Africa in order to promote a ‘vibrant Africa’.

In particular she emphasised that food shortages could be curtailed using African resources, with Africa as ‘the food basket of the world’. This has particular relevance for women who could be aided to provide more food more effectively. The empowerment of women in the agricultural sector would ‘bring revolution’ to the continent.

The second point made by the High Commissioner focussed on the need to enhance the capacity of the struggling private sector through the use of laws, legislation, rules and regulations which require functioning law courts and practices free from corruption. The strengthening of these institutions would correspondingly lead to a boost in Africa’s private sector and increase capacity to enter into good investment deals.

In conclusion the High Commissioner argues that Africa needs to primarily work on its regional infrastructure but avoid putting ‘all eggs in one basket’. Further, Japan’s initiatives must be interlinked with existing processes in order to in order to increase the impact of such programmes.

4. Questions and Answers

   ‘Everything would be better in Africa if only Japan would….’

  • Engage in the private sector
  • Focus on institutional strengthening
  • Address governance issues and the APRM

Ambassador Odano answered that the key to transforming Africa is education and good governance. Drawing a comparison with his own region he said that ‘Asians enjoy the good life whilst Africans suffer;. He attributes this to the drive for education in Asia and Japan’s subsequent support for Education for All in Africa – with a particular concern for girls. Japan is in full support of the APRM and shares the same values as Europeans and North Americans in regard to ‘democracy and human rights’.

  • Issues of trade access
  • The central role of Africans in the diaspora in promoting development
  • The importance of telecommunications and ICT
  • Promotion of infrastructural development which is linked to all other initiatives

The Ambassador answered that improving market access to neighbouring countries is essential, and that following the example of ASEAN countries such as Malaysia – regulation of consumption and trade in order to boost the economy – could be a good model for Africa. Japan is promoting its ‘One Village, One Product’ campaign which aims to encourage producers to provide more diversified goods and also supports the opening up of trade access to local markets.  In terms of telecommunications and ICT, Japan deems these very important but due to the prioritisation of programmes and the strategic allocation of its resources telecommunications and ICT have not been placed as high priorities. Japan has, however, funded the Science and Technology University in Egypt.

5. Conclusion

Chair Simon Maxwell concluded the discussion by summarising three key thoughts for Japan in Africa:

  1. The need for Japan to ensure that institutions and governments are visible, accountable and concrete;
  2. The need to address how to engage Japan’s private sector in the process;
  3. That Japan does not need to be doing this alone and it is a credit to them that they have taken an inspiring leadership role in the creation of TICAD.


Historically, Japan has played a critical role in keeping African development high on the international agenda. For example, Japan was the first G8 member to invite participation by African leaders the last time it hosted the G8 Summit in 2000. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), an event established in 1993 and held once every five years, has also informed past G8 and UN Summits, resulting in key outcomes such as the establishment of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

For the first time, in 2008 Japan will host both the G8 Summit and TICAD, and it is widely expected that many of the issues raised in TICAD will be incorporated into discussions at the G8. The ODI is pleased to bring together key representatives from Japan, Africa and the UK to discuss Japan’s participatory approach to African development.

H.E. Mr Nobutake Odano, Japanese Ambassador for TICAD IV will be arriving directly from the TICAD IV Ministerial Preparatory Meeting in Gabon and will offer his views on the process so far. H.E. Mrs Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for the United Republic of Tanzania, which is the current chair of the African Union, will add insight from the African perspective. Prof. Myles Wickstead, Former Head of Secretariat for the Commission for Africa, will also draw on his wealth of experience in Africa to inform the discussion.

Some questions for consideration include: How has Japan helped put Africa in the driver’s seat with regards to African development? How effective has the TICAD process been in bringing African voices into the G8 Summit dialogue? How does the TICAD process compare to other partnership models, especially those promoted by China and India?