THE ROAD TO YOKOHAMA 2019
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Representation Office in Tokyo launched AFRI-CONVERSE, a dialogue series on African development and networking.
The maiden edtion of Afri-Converse which took place on Friday 29 June 2018 aimed to take stock of TICAD’s achievements (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) and to kick off a conversation about its enduring relevance as the forum is marking its milestone 25th anniversary and gearing up towards the organization of its 7th global conference (TICAD VII) in Yokohama, Japan, in 2019.
In attendance were more than 100 participants from the government, African diplomatic community, business circles, UN and international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and academia in Japan. African Business Education (ABE) Initiative students also joined the discussion.
Hailing TICAD’s transformation into a major policy discussion venue based on the twin principles of “African Ownership and International Partnership”, participants noted the increasingly diverse range of stakeholders in Africa’s development, most recently the Japanese and African business communities, and TICAD’s unique versatility to respond to the evolution of Africa’s development agenda. Others emphasized that TICAD had been the “agenda setter” and made important contributions to substantive discussions at global, regional and bilateral levels.
Since its inception, TICAD has thrived on its open, multi-stakeholder and inclusive format. From TICAD I and its 1000 participants gathered in Tokyo 1993, it has grown into a major forum on African development, attracting 14,000 participants at TICAD 6 in August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Present at the event, Masahiko Kiya, Ambassador for TICAD and Deputy Assistant Minister for African Affairs Department and International Cooperation Bureau, at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “AFRI-CONVERSE provides an opportunity for all of us to think together about “the TICAD We Want”.
“All the people present here already know that TICAD is “great”. We are here today to discuss how to make it “greater”, added Mr. Masaki Inaba, Representative of Japan Citizen’s Network for TICAD.
Noting that 73 business deals (Memoranda of Understanding) were concluded during TICAD VI between Japanese corporations and African stakeholders, Japanese private sector participants reiterated their interest in further deepening and expanding their engagements in Africa, a sentiment that was echoed by African Business Education (ABE) Initiative students.
More specifically, African participants called for the active engagement of young Japanese professionals in Africa to foster the mutual exchange of young talents, especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), which were singled out as a field of great demand and potential.
Small and medium enterprises, informal sector development, trade promotion and market access, agriculture, urbanization, climate change, tourism, sports and cultural exchange, and South-South and triangular cooperation were also singled out as areas that could lend themselves to further promising collaborations.
Participants also noted that various Centers of Excellence in Africa sponsored by Japan over the years could play catalytic roles in that regard.Recognizing the spread and impact of smart and practical technologies such as the M-PESA system, participants noted that engagement in Africa could offer new insights for Japanese business models and that promoting exchanges of young professionals in the scientific fields could further enrich such partnerships.
Finally, participants highlighted the need for enhanced advocacy and outreach of TICAD with the help of Japanese and African civil society networks and through various communication channels.
AFRI-CONVERSE will take place from 18:00 to 19:30 every last Friday of the month (also known as “Premium Friday” in Japan) at the UN University HQ Building in Tokyo.
The lineup for the next AFRI-CONVERSE dialogues (subject to confirmation) is as follows:
27 July 2018 H.E. Dr. Pierre Ndzengue, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to Japan and Chair of the TICAD Committee, the African Diplomatic Corps and the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative students
2 August 2018 (Special Edition) Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
31 August 2018 Professor Shinichi Takeuchi, Director of African Studies Centre, Tokyo University of Foreign StudiesProfessor Motoki Takahashi, Graduate School of Asian and African Studies, Kyoto University