30 Years of TICAD: Fostering African Development, Multilateralism, and Regional Integration through Trade and Business

TICAD, celebrating its 30th year, is being reexamined with a focus on multilateralism and African ownership. UNDP Regional Director for Africa recently discussed the future of TICAD and Africa's Promise with the African Diplomatic Corps in Japan.

November 1, 2023
Photo: UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

Multilateralism and African ownership have been forming the core of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) since its establishment. As TICAD celebrates its 30th year, partners are reflecting on its achievements and current structure in the ever-evolving political, and socio-economic contexts of both the continent and the globe.

Against this backdrop, the African Diplomatic Corps in Japan (ADC) hosted Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP in August 2023. The exchange was organized to facilitate the delivery of a collective voice on the reflection process of TICAD and share views on Africa’s Promise in relation to regional integration through trade and business.

H.E. Mr. Abubakar Moriki Husaini, Ambassador of Nigeria and Chair of the TICAD Committee, opened the exchange by highlighting the need to focus on African engagement, with an emphasis on regional integration through trade, business, and the private sector. "There is a need for private sector integration and participation in the planning and organization of African development initiatives."

"Africa is no longer looking for external policy prescriptions but has its own development narrative in Agenda 2063, focusing on homegrown solutions." Eziakonwa then stressed the importance of remodeling TICAD to help Africa build resilience, shifting from project-based approaches to supporting the production of 'Made in Africa' goods."

Eziakonwa also emphasized TICAD's potential to support Africa's industrialization and the role of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). She stressed, "Leveraging AfCFTA's tariff-free treatment can enhance the partnership with Japan in advancing productive industries in Africa."

Left to right: Hideko Hadzialic (Director of UNDP Representation Office in Tokyo), Eziakonwa, H.E. Mr. Abubakar Moriki Husaini

Photo: UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

"There is a need to understand how bilateral arrangements, multilateral interventions, and the private sector can work together to ensure the sustainability of development objectives in countries such as Liberia," H.E. Mr. Blamoh Nelson, Ambassador of Liberia highlighted.

H.E. Mr. Estifanos Afeworki Haile, Ambassador of Eritrea, and Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps raised a question about the role of the African Diplomatic Corp in supporting the interests of African countries in Japan as well as the collective interests of Africa. The importance of shifting perspectives and embracing a new approach in Japan- Africa relations was highlighted by H.E. Mr. Mohamed Fattah, Ambassador of Egypt. 

In response, Eziakonwa emphasized the need for policies promoting cooperation between development agencies and public-private partnerships, particularly acknowledging the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the informal sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also expressed concern about negative perceptions of Africa and emphasized ownership of Africa in development, featuring Africans who are making positive contributions in their respective countries, communities, and fields, highlighting the significance of Africans telling their own narratives by themselves. 

H.E. Mr. Genevieve Apaloo, Ambassador of Ghana then discussed the importance of addressing how Africa’s resources are treated and emphasized that technology alone is not enough; access to and processing of raw materials is crucial. Looking ahead to TICAD9, H.E. Ms. Tabu Irina, Ambassador of Kenya, highlighted the need to effectively monitor promises made.

Group photo of African Diplomatic Corps - Members of TICAD Committee with UNDP representatives

Photo: UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa