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August 29, 2008 Source: www.AsiaEcon.org In the last 15 years, Japan has emerged as the global leader in the development of Africa. By doing so, it has also strengthened its bilateral relations with the continent and has secured economic benefits for both parties.  


In the last 15 years, Japan has emerged as the global leader in the development of Africa. By doing so, it has also strengthened its bilateral relations with the continent and has secured economic benefits for both parties.

A major way Japan has spearheaded the task of invigorating Africa’s economy is through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). The TICAD is a conference in Tokyo held every five years to improve relations between Africa and its development partners. The first TICAD, TICAD I, took place in 1993, and the most recent, TICAD IV, wrapped up at the end of May of 2008. At all four conferences, Japan has reinforced its long-term commitment to promoting peace and economic stability in Africa.

During TICAD I, Japan took the lead in producing the “Tokyo Declaration on African Development,” a document that aimed to encourage high-level policy dialogue between Africa and its development partners. Japan remained optimistic about Africa’s potential though many other of Africa’s development partners began to lose interest. At the end of TICAD I, several prospects appeared promising, though almost nothing was guaranteed.

Five years later, TICAD II generated the “Tokyo Agenda for Action,” which was much more action-oriented than the Tokyo Declaration on African Development. This document called for poverty reduction and a push for Africa’s integration into the global economy. TICAD III drew over 1,000 African delegates including the Chairperson of the African Union, Thabo Mbeki. This conference analyzed the achievements of TICAD over the past 10 years and developed future goals for African development.

TICAD IV took place from May 28-30 2008. Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda met with representatives from 51 African countries, 22 donor nations, and 55 international organizations. In all, more than 3,000 people participated in TICAD IV making it the most heavily attended TICAD of the four. The conference aimed to boost economic growth, ensure human security, and address environmental issues in Africa.

The conference recognized that the key to Africa’s growth is the development of the continent’s infrastructure. History has proven that improvements in transportation infrastructure attract more private investments. Japan has targeted Africa’s infrastructure as the main area it will develop, pledging $4 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans by the end of 2012. Increasing ODA loans will encourage Japanese private-sector investment in Africa. Furthermore, Japan will double its grant aid and technical cooperation in the next five years. The Japanese government will also establish a fund at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation that aims to double investment in Africa.

At the conference, Prime Minister Fukuda also tracked Africa’s economic progress over the past decade. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy grew at a rate of 5% from 2004-2007 and reached 6% in late 2007. Japan will look to further increase Africa’s economic growth by helping the continent double its rice output to 28 million tons by 2018. Furthermore, Japan will give a significant portion of a $100 million global emergency food assistance package to Africa.

Africa has long complained that though it contributes very few greenhouse gases, it must still suffer the effects of global warming. Africa only contributes about 3.8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. By taking the lead on climate change initiatives, Japan has indirectly assisted in resolving Africa’s environmental problems. Japan’s “Cool Earth 50,” introduced in 2007, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. Japan has also led the way in the creation of the $10 billion Climate Change Fund. In addition, Japan automakers have made a push to produce cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars including many hybrid models.

In the next five years, Japan will train 100,000 people as health workers who will travel to African countries that suffer from a shortage of health care. Japan has also pledged $560 million to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, about $330 million of which will go directly to Africa.

The TICAD conferences have given Japan tremendous opportunities to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties with Africa. As a resource-rich continent, Africa can offer Japan many precious metals that the country needs for its high-tech industries. Africa is home to 89% of the world’s platinum, 60% of its diamonds, 34% of its chrome, 37% of its zirconium, and 53% of its cobalt. Because the Japan Bank for International Cooperation is providing $490 million to co-sponsor a nickel mining project in Madagascar, Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation will have the right to purchase 30,000 tons of nickel annually. In addition, Japan will begin to import platinum, nickel and cobalt from Botswana.

With strong bilateral ties with Africa, Japan also has Africa’s support as it seeks a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The African countries account for 25% of the UN General Assembly. Africa’s support has been crucial to Japan winning the Asian non-permanent Security Council seat in 1996 and the election of Shigeru Oda to the UN International Court of Justice. If it is to secure Africa’s political support and imports of raw materials, it is in Japan’s best interest to continue to assist Africa in its economic development. As long as Japan continues to invest in Africa and solidify ties with it though future TICAD conferences, both parties will continue to gain significant benefits.

Source: www.AsiaEcon.org

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