The 2018 Ministerial Meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) began informally on Friday 5 October during a high-level thematic side event organized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
During the 3-hour dialogue titled ‘Leveraging Business Opportunities: A Call for Japanese Business Sector’, representatives of the African and Japanese private sector shared insights on how to better leverage business prospects in Africa.
In attendance were H.E. Mr. Masahisa Sato, Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs; Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa; H.E. Mr. Estifanos Afeworki Ambassador of Eritrea, Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps in Japan; Dr. Kouassi N’guettia, Director of Economic Affairs, African Union Commission; Ms. Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala Vice President of the African Development Bank; Toshitake Kurosawa Director of the World Bank, IFC Tokyo Office and Ayodele Odusola, Chief Economist UNDP Africa
“Deepening strategic partnership between African and Japanese businesses to provide development solutions to the challenges pose by the SDGs will not only help achieve the objectives of TICAD but also help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2063” added said Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa declared as she delivered the event’s opening remarks.
Japanese business presence in Africa has steadily increased in the past 10 years. Official figures estimate that in 2017, 795 Japanese corporations were operating in the continent, up 7.7% from 738 in 2016.
In a panel moderated by UNDP Africa Chief Economist Ayodele Odusola, participants discussed the private sector’s reticence to invest in one the fastest growing regions in the world and urged them to consider the potentially high level of returns. It is estimated that between 2006 and 2011, Africa had the highest rates of return on inflows of Foreign Direct Investment – 11.4% compared to 7.1% globally.
Panelists indicated that the key drivers of growth in Africa such as agriculture, infrastructure (e.g. electricity, rail, roads, irrigation facilities and logistics), ICT and banking and finance were those very sectors were Japanese business had a comparative edge.
Participants hailed export processing zones, industrial clusters, merger and acquisitions, joint venture with local corporations, and public private partnership (PPP) as standard avenues for engagement and urged Japanese banking sector to take bolder steps to join the fray.
The side event is the part of discussion series on the private sector engagement tiled "Japan-Africa Business Dialogue: Looking Ahead to TICAD 7."
The two-day TICAD Ministerial Meeting begins officially on Saturday 6 October 2018 in Tokyo under the joint aegis of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNDP. Since its inception in 1993, TICAD has evolved into a major forum on African development, attracting 14,000 participants at TICAD 6 in August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. The next TICAD Conference, TICAD 7, will take place in Yokohama, Japan, in August 2019.