President John Dramani Mahama is leading Ghana’s delegation to promote high level policy dialogue between African leaders and their development partners at this year’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V).
Scheduled to commence today, the First Lady, Lordina Mahama, the Foreign Minister, Hannah Tetteh, and other functionaries of state will also be in attendance. Mrs Lordina Mahama will represent Ghana on a high-profile discussions on gender issues.
Other African and world leaders will also assemble at the Japanese city of Yokohama to attend the TICAD V.
The TICAD, which was launched in 1993, is now co-organised by Japan, the African Union Commission, the United Nations, the World Bank and the UNDP and since its inception 20 years ago, Japan has hosted the summit-level conference after every five years.
The fifth conference (TICAD V) to open from June 1-3, 2013, will among other leaders have the UN Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, in attendance.
TICAD has since evolved into a major global framework to facilitate the implementation of measures for promoting African development under the dual principles of African “ownership” and international “partnership”.
Japan is determined to contribute to the development of Africa and though there are few historical ties with the continent, that country holds the view that there would be no stability or prosperity in the world unless the problems on the continent are resolved.
Japan’s commitment was demonstrated in launching the TICAD process and shifting the international community’s attention back to Africa in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War appeared to focus global interest elsewhere.
Japan has promoted the principles of both global partnership and African ownership through TICAD.
How far has the TICAD come? TICAD I, 1993
At the first conference, the co-organisers vowed to reverse the decline in development assistance for Africa.
Participants adopted the Tokyo Declaration on African Development, committing to the pursuit of political and economic reforms in Africa, increased private sector development and regional integration and the harnessing of Asian experience for African development.
TICAD II, 1998
This conference addressed Africa’s development challenges with poverty reduction and the integration of Africa into the global economy as a primary theme. The Tokyo Agenda for Action (TAA) outlined the framework for co-operation in the TICAD process, identifying shared goals, objectives and guidelines for actions to be taken by Africa and its partners.
TICAD III, 2003
This made an explicit commitment for the TICAD Initiative to support the New Partnership of Africa’s Development (NEPAD) which was a blueprint for Africa’s peace and socio-economic growth and development.
The 10th TICAD anniversary celebration, an outcome statement that renewed the commitment of leaders for African development, was adopted at this conference which placed emphasis on the concept of human security.
TICAD IV, 2008
Aiming for a vibrant Africa, this summit addressed the following three priority areas namely boosting economic growth, ensuring human security including the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the consolidation of peace and good governance and addressing environmental issues and climate change.
Approximately, 3,000 delegates including 41 African head of states attended this conference where the Yokohama Declaration was made confirming political commitment towards African empowerment.
The 2013 edition of the TICAD, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the TICAD process and the 50th anniversary of the African Union, aims to keep Africa’s current growth on a stable path.
Representatives from Japan, the AU, donor countries, civil society organisations and the private sector are expected to produce action plans.
Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa in the last 20 years has been phenomenal, especially in the areas of infrastructure and energy, agriculture, health and water and sanitation/ climate change and consolidation of peace and governance.
Infrastructure and energy
Based on the post-war recovery of Japan and the development of Asian countries, Japan believes it is imperative to develop infrastructure to accomplish a robust and sustainable economic growth driven by the private sector.
The agricultural sector is also a prioritised area of Japanese assistance. It aims to develop a potential of agriculture and to accomplish food security in Africa. Japan has been supporting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) by promoting rice cropping in Africa.
While tremendous progress has been made, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa still face challenges in achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4, 5 and 6. Japan, with support from the commitments from other African states, has been promoting health system strengthening, improvement in maternal health care and the fight against infectious diseases.
Water, sanitation and climate change
According to UNICEF, there are still approximately about 330 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who have not had access to safe drinking water since 2010.
This challenge is one of the priority areas of the Japanese government’s overseas assistance to Africa.
On climate change, Japan has implemented more than $1.55 billion of Fast-Start Finance to Africa to deal with the menace.
Consolidation of peace and governance
Many African countries have suffered from conflicts and civil wars since independence and Japan has been emphasising through the TICAD process the significance of peace and stability as the foundation for economic development.
With the end of many conflicts from the beginning of the 21st century, Japan has reinforced its assistance for the consolidation of peace so as to prevent the recurrence of conflicts.
Since the launch of the TICAD process effort by Africa, the international partnership has made considerable progress in promoting sustainable growth on the continent.
It is expected that seven out of the 10 fastest growing economies will be in Africa in the next two years.
According to the TICAD, closing the huge African infrastructure gap will be one of the defining challenges of African economic development over the decade and beyond and while many countries have been able to achieve high growth rates over the years, that progress could only be maintained if there is a meaningful improvement in key areas such as power, transportation and communication.
Article by Sebastian Syme