Stronger and more meaningful partnerships between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Japan in the area of human security can assist vulnerable populations in Africa overcome the myriad challenges they face and transform them into opportunities.
As the co-organizers of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), namely the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission, UNDP, the United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (UNOSAA), and the World Bank, embark on a series of discussions to nail down the agenda for its 8th summit in Tunisia in 2022. UNDP hosted a ‘bootcamp’ for its staff in Africa to reinvent co-creation with Japan.
During the dialogue session, which brought together UNDP, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), participants deepened their understanding of the strategic focus and approaches of Japan on the continent and agreed that stronger collaboration on development initiatives could yield more effective development outcomes during this challenging time.
“It is only through meaningful collaboration between UNDP, JICA and our private sector partners that we can address obstacles that affect the most vulnerable groups,” said Mathieu Ciowela, UNDP Resident Representative in Burkina Faso.
Ambassador H.E. Mr. Masaaki Kato from the Embassy of Japan in Burkina Faso highlighted the challenges faced by women and children in the Sahel as a result of heightened insecurity and deepening poverty in the region. The region is among one of the most fragile in Africa with about 30 million people pushed into poverty this year alone due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 24 million Sahelians are now in need of humanitarian aid and protection, one million more than 2019, according to the United Nations.
“UNDP has strong relationships with government agencies, NGOs, commerce and industry associations, as well as local information and expertise gained through its network of 53 offices spanning the entire continent of Africa. UNDP’s continental presence is instrumental in effectively addressing these challenges,” said Ambassador Kato.
With regard to support for Africa’s post COVID-19 recovery, Director of Planning and TICAD Division in JICA’s Africa Department, Mr. Hiroyuki Yakushi highlighted that the pandemic required the organization to reframe its focus in the following: Human Security and Resilience in the post COVID-19 era, utilization of DX, Africa’s Continental Agenda, as well as achieving collective impact by promoting collaboration with development partners.
“In light of COVID-19, an integrated approach is important, and resilience is a key. TICAD8 in 2022 will provide an ideal opportunity to motivate participants to achieve a safe and secure Africa beyond the pandemic,” said Yakushi. He stressed complementarity of partnership between UNDP and JICA, where both can supplement specific expertise and geographical coverage through collaboration, highlighting the strength of UNDP as a comprehensive/integrated programme approach, and that of JICA as specific sectoral expertise in different sectors.
Trade Commissioner and Managing Director of JETRO in Lagos, Mr. Taninami Takuma noted the number of Japanese companies in Africa had increased in recent years, and that Japanese start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises were actively involved in bringing new business models to African markets. JETRO is a non-profit organization that connects business with resources to expand investment in Africa.
“Even though COVID-19 impacted operational profit significantly in 2020, Japanese companies have not lost business interest in Africa,” added Taninami, referring to the top 5 investment destinations by Japanese companies: Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ghana. He emphasized that UNDP and JETRO can complement each other by encouraging greater investment in the continent. Furthermore, while UNDP can provide expertise and draw on its strong network among the African public and private sector, JETRO can provide access to Japanese companies.
“The virtue of UNDP-Japan partnership can be summed up with “3S”: the synergy effect through which UNDP and Japan bring respective resources, combine them to create “solutions’’ to address the common agendas; the scale-up effect which is to generate greater impact, and the supplementary effect, where UNDP’s presence in 170 countries with experience, expertise and network can complement Japan’s reach,” concluded Mr. Hajime Kishimori, Senior Advisor, Japan Unit of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy of UNDP.