All systems go as Nairobi hosts over 10,000 delegates for Tokyo summit

KICC chairman Omingo Magara (left) hands over a symbolic key to Cabinet Secretaries Najib Balala, Amina Mohammed and PS Monica Juma to kickstart final preparations for the TICAD conference next week. (PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE/ STANDARD)

Kenya will host another international event - The Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit starting Friday to Sunday next week.

Nairobi is bracing for major traffic disruptions and enhanced security surveillance ahead of the meeting to be attended by 35 Heads of State, among them Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This will be the first time TICAD held in Africa since its inception in 1993.

An estimated 10,000 delegates – 6,000 Africans and 4,000 Japanese – are expected at the event at KICC, Nairobi, where they will be seeking to showcase business opportunities in their respective countries and solidify trade ties with Japan.

Mr Abe is expected to hold a meeting with African leaders at the tail end of the conference. The Japanese delegation comprises executives of 100 top firms which will exhibit their products and explore new opportunities in Africa.

“Japan has many projects in Kenya and the continent. This conference is a game-changer for Kenya as some of the outstanding undertakings are there for everyone to see. The Olkaria project, sponsored programmes at Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT), expansion of Mombasa Port among others,” Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said as she singled out some of the projects at a press briefing in Nairobi yesterday.

She added: “Japan is the principal organiser of this summit, while Kenya and other regional and international organisations are co-hosting it. This is a wonderful cooperation taking into accounts the support we receive from Japan.”

Sixteen ongoing projects in Kenya have received funding support from Japan, making it a key development partner.

Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa stands at USD32 billion, including USD16 billion for public-private ventures.
Kenya is the leading recipient of the Japanese ODA in sub-Saharan Africa of which cumulatively, stands at approximately 549 billion Japanese Yen (Sh445 billion).

Japan supports many transformative programmes in Africa by way of grants, loans and through technical cooperation in terms of dividends in infrastructure, energy, agriculture as well as human resource capacities and education.

TICAD emphasis is on the critical livelihood issues, notably economic growth, agriculture and farming as well as social stability.

“The hosting of this event is not by accident, it’s an affirmation that this country has cut its niche across the world. This is historical because the next time the continent might host a similar conference is six years from now,” said the CS. She noted: “Kenya is a special country. She has demonstrated to the world that she is ready for business ventures. She is now in partnership with Japan. There is the element of competition for a small market - Africa, and this is the opportunity we have grabbed it.”

Though the government is yet to officially release the list of the presidents to attend the meeting, Mohammed said they would be giving updates.

“We expect immediate economic benefit of hosting this event to double that of the recent 14th United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD),” said the CS.

She acknowledged that the next few days will be tough as the clock ticks to the D-day.

“We have recalled our colleagues in the continent and beyond to help us work towards the success of this event. We formed a steering committee led by Ambassador Ben Ogutu- Special envoy and Director General TICAD VI secretariat to lead in the preparations,” said Mohammed.

Enough resources

Mohammed confirmed the government had invested enough resources to ensure the event succeeds.

The CS spoke at the official handing over ceremony of the key to KICC by Tourism CS Najib Balala and witnessed by among others Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma and KICC acting Managing Director Nana Gechaga.

According to Mohammed, the UNCTAD conference brought about 7,000 delegates to Nairobi and injected approximately Sh6 billion ($59 million) directly into the economy.

With TICAD, the government estimates a direct cash injection of Sh12 billion ($118 million).

Balala assured participants that the hiccups experience during WTO and UNCTAD that occasioned delays would be avoided.

“I am happy the image of Kenya is at its best presently. With these events coming to Kenya, it’s a clear demonstration that in Africa, we have the capacity to hold global conferences,” said Balala.

The decision to host TICAD VI Summit in Africa was reached during the TICAD V Summit in 2013 when it was agreed that the venue of subsequent TICAD Summits be alternated between Japan and Africa. The interval of summit meetings was also shortened from every five years to three years.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored the importance of this event being held on African soil, saying it will give impetus to partnership and ownership which underpin the very principles of the formation of TICAD in 1993.

He said the meeting will afford the Heads of State and Governments from African continent the opportunity to monitor progress and implementation of previous TICAD agreements whose letter and spirit, remain that ever-great need to speed up the growth and development of Africa. Kenya’s relationship with Japan goes back to the 1920s, when the latter opened its first consulate in our coastal city of Mombasa way back in 1932.