Forum to further promote Japanese business and investment in Africa

Japanese Ambassador to Kenya Ken Okaniwa (right) receives a trophy from KOA treasurer Tecla Sang during a past event in Nairobi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

On August 27-28, Prime Minister (PM) Kishida Fumio and African leaders will gather in Tunisia for the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8).

Japan initiated this forum in 1993, when no other donor country hosted such a meeting. Unlike other fora, it is co-organised by the UN, the UNDP, the World Bank and the Africa Union Commission.

At Tunis, leaders are expected to focus on the most pressing issues facing Africa such as post-Covid-19 recovery, high food and fuel prices stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change and peace and stability.

As you may know, Kenya has a special link with TICAD. In 2016, President Uhuru Kenyatta and then PM Abe Shinzo co-chaired TICAD VI in Nairobi. I would like to convey my deep appreciation to President Kenyatta and the Kenyan people for the expression of condolences and sympathy following the late PM's sudden demise on July 8.

At TICAD VI, PM Abe announced the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" (FOIP) to promote maritime safety, freedom and order in the sea, and connectivity. After the historic meeting, Kenya, embracing the FOIP vision, took the initiative to hold the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference together with Japan in 2018.

At the bilateral level, Japan provided the Kenya Coast Guard Service with 17 patrol boats and has been supporting the development of the Mombasa Port, a gateway to East Africa. The upcoming meeting will discuss how to promote FOIP further in Africa.

The 2016 Nairobi conference was significant not only as the first meeting to be held on African soil but also since the private sector was involved as a full-fledged partner. It led to the launch of the Japan-Kenya Business Dialogue at TICAD 7 and the establishment of the Japan Desk at KenInvest. As a result of such efforts, Japanese companies operating in Kenya have more than doubled in the last five years to over 100 in 2021.

TICAD 8 is expected to further promote Japanese business and investment in Africa through new initiatives. One such initiative is a collaboration between Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and African Trade Insurance (ATI) based in Nairobi. NEXI's investment in ATI is expected to catalyse Japanese business and investment in Africa.

People-centered development and human security have been among the main principles of TICAD. Hence TICAD has prioritised "investment in people".

Japan's cooperation for human resource development has increased both in numbers and in scope covering such areas as agriculture, business, climate change and natural disaster reduction, debt management, infectious diseases, intellectual property, maritime security, United Nations Peacekeeping Operations), STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and vocational training.

Notably, Japan's cooperation with Kenya has enabled the country to receive trainees from other African countries on forestry, medical research, and STEM, reflecting TICAD's basic principle of "ownership". TICAD 8 is expected to further promote investment in people.

TICAD has continued for nearly 30 years, embodying a Japanese proverb, "continuity is the mother of success". The 8th meeting is another important occasion to make Africa more resilient and self-reliant by combining Japanese know-how/technology and funding with African ingenuity in the quest for quality growth.