THE Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has said it is committed to connecting Africa through infrastructure to help boost regional trade, integration and the development of the continent.
The development agency of the Northeast Asian giant said it was stepping up its support to governments on the continent to develop key road networks and infrastructure under its Corridor Development Initiative meant to quicken development and regional integration.
The Vice-President of JICA, Ryuichi Kato, said in a virtual media briefing that regional integration had become critical in recent times following the take-off of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a trade pact among the continent's 54 countries.
Mr Kato, therefore, pledged that Japan would work with regional and sub-regional bodies to fund the construction and development of key road networks to link the sub-regions and countries to help realise the objectives of the AfCFTA as well as make general trading and transportation easier.
He said Ghana was among the Western Ring of the master plan that was used to execute the project, making it a beneficiary nation.
The Tema Motorway Interchange in the Greater Accra in Ghana is one of the projects that was funded by JICA under the Corridors Initiative.
In West Africa, JICA has been executing the initiative under the Project on Corridor Development for West Africa Growth Ring Master Plan that aims to interconnect the Abidjan-Ouagadougou Corridor, the Tema-Ouagadougou Corridor, the Lomé-Ouagadougou Corridor and the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor.
The DG of the Africa Department of JICA was speaking in a virtual press briefing to journalists in Africa ahead of the eighth edition of Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
The Director-General of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miyashita Tadayuki, addressed the press conference alongside Mr Kato.
It was relayed to journalists across the continent as part of processes leading to the organisation of the TICAD8 that would be attended by African presidents, ministers and key public and private sector players on the continent, Japan and across the world.
Mr Tadayuki said Africa was important to Japan, as it was the largest regional group in the United Nations (UN).
He said the continent also had enormous potential, with growth rate averaging five per cent between 2001 and 2021 and predicted to become home to 2.5 billion people, which was equivalent to a quarter of the world’s population.
The DG of the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that Japan was building its cooperation with Africa on a partnership that strengthened connectivity through investments in quality infrastructure and enhanced maritime security.
He said the country also prioritised human security by dealing in development and humanitarian issues such as conflicts and terrorism, food security, infectious diseases and climate change.
He mentioned the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Ghana as one of the fruits of Japan’s relationship with Africa and Ghana in particular.
He said the institute had evolved into a critical part of medical research in West Africa and Africa as a whole, adding that the TICAD8 conference would aim to explore ideas on how bigger investments could be made to help advance quality of life and economic development on the continent.
Dubbed TICAD8, this year’s event is scheduled to take place in Tunisia from August 27 to 28 on a theme that is yet to be decided.
TICAD is an initiative of the Government of Japan and has been held since 1993 to explore investment opportunities, new areas of cooperation and development and how to deepen relations between the two sides.
It is organised in collaboration with the UN, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the African Union Commission (AUC).
Kenya was the first African country to host the conference in 2016. In July 2020, the Government of Japan announced that the TICAD8 would be hosted by the Republic of Tunisia.