Innovative Thinking on African Development

Africa Day Symposium Series

Photo by shortie66 kindly licensed under Creative Commons.

The annual Africa Day symposia are an important manifestation of the long-standing collaboration between the United Nations University, the African Diplomatic Corps in Tokyo (ADC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to explore critical issues of African development.

Since the inaugural event in 2000, the series has sought to inform not just the TICAD and G8 processes but a broader general understanding of the problems and immense potential of the continent through a focus on specific topics of relevance including trade and investment, infrastructure development, and the digital divide.

Building upon the strong ties between UNU, the ADC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the series over the years has provided a forum for frank discussion and open enquiry among heads of state, academics, ambassadors, and ministerial and development experts, and has evolved into a strong platform for innovative thinking on African development.


In May 1963, thirty-two independent African States, who had genuine hopes and visions for the continent of Africa, came together in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to create the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The Africa Day symposium was first envisioned as an annual event in celebration of the founding of the OAU.

Starting from 2008, the annual symposium takes place in September to acknowledge the Sirte Declaration, the founding document of the African Union. In September 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity issued the famous declaration which called for the establishment of the African Union (AU).

Africa Day 2007 · 25 May

Financial Instruments for the Promotion of Infrastructure, Trade and Investment between Japan and Africa

Programme (44 KB PDF)


Media Release

UNU & Africa

On the occasion of the 2007 UNU Africa Day Symposium, UNU prepared a pamphlet which features some of its activities in and on Africa:

Focus on Africa, 2007
(222 KB PDF)

The 2007 Africa Day Symposium examined the main policy/actions recently adopted by the Japanese Government and its agencies — the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) — to boost trade and investment flows with Africa. The symposium also sought to contribute to preparations for the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and to the G8 Summit, both being held in Japan in 2008. The goal is to create additional opportunities for the adoption and implementation of good policy recommendations regarding African development.

In the policy brief prepared four years previously for the third TICAD, UNU advocated the importance of infrastructure, regional integration and capital flows as elements of the African development equation, as highlighted by the NEPAD. The fact that infrastructures and poverty reduction are closely interlinked stresses the importance of having an accurate definition of infrastructure. We advocated, and still do, that such a definition of infrastructure must not only include hard infrastructure, such as railways, roads and bridges, but also soft infrastructure, such as education, health, information and communication technology (ICT), and not least good governance.

Even though the focus of the 2007 symposium was on financial infrastructures, in line with policies developed by the ADC, it is now time to go beyond the traditional concept of Capacity Development and to encourage a better fostering of intellectual abilities and capacities.

Only adequate intellectual infrastructures can enable the African people to take the lead in shaping their own future and development process. The available infrastructures are far from adequate which reflects negatively on all development efforts. The issue of the ownership process in development is crucial for success.

Speeches and Presentations

Hans van Ginkel
UNU Rector

Salah B. Hannachi
Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia

Expression of Appreciation
from ADC to Rector van Ginkel

Yoshiro Mori (JP)
Former Prime Minister of Japan, Member of the House of Representatives, and President of the Japan-African Union Parliamentary Friendship Association

Bouna Sémou Diouf
Director, TICAD/UNDP Africa Bureau

Midori Matsushima (JP)
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Stuart H. Comberbach
Ambassador, Embassy of Zimbabwe
(Japanese version)

Bernd Fischer
Chargé d'Affaires a.i., German Embassy Tokyo

Lester Dally
Acting Special Representative, World Bank Office, Japan

Yoshiteru Uramoto
Deputy to the Director-General, Coordination and Field Operations Division, UNIDO

Koji Omi
Minister of Finance, Member, House of Representatives, Japan

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General
Message on Africa Day

Africa Day 2006 · 25 May

Tools for Development: the Role of Trade, Investment and ODA

Programme (96 KB PDF)

Media Release (68 KB PDF)


The 2006 Africa Day Symposium featured H.E. Mr. Festus G. Mogae, president of the Republic of Botswana, who spoke on Tools for Development: the Role of Trade, Investment and ODA. Mr. Mogae said in his remarks that "the question of whether aid is given as a moral obligation of the rich to the poor or is better given to NGOs instead of Governments is a sterile debate. What is critical is to ensure comprehensive accountability and that aid is fully responsive to recipient needs."

Opening remarks were delivered by Shintaro Ito, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. The keynote session was followed by a panel discussion entitled "How can Africa benefit most from Trade, Investment and ODA?" The panellists were: Mr. Festus G. Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana; Yoichi Otabe, Director General for Sub-Saharan African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Hideo Yamachika, Director, Technical Cooperation Division, Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Reijiro Hattori, Chairman, The African Society of Japan; Mamoru Kotake, President, Corochan Co. Ltd.; and H.E. Wasswa Birigwa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uganda.

Africa Day 2005 · 18 May

Digital Partnership: Hopes and Inspirations from Bandung

Programme (64 KB PDF)

Media Release (120 KB PDF)


The 2005 Africa Day Symposium coincided with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) thematic meeting “Towards the Realization of the Ubiquitous Network Society,” which was organized by the Government of Japan, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and UNU on 16 and 17 May. The objective of the symposium was to highlight the importance of promoting “digital partnership” and bridging the digital divide, issues that will be addressed at the Second Phase of the WSIS to be held in Tunis in November.

The 2005 Africa Day Symposium also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference (of Asian and African national leaders) and served as an opportunity to further strengthen African–Asian cooperation. It also sought to inform the G8 Summit held at Gleneagles, Scotland, in July 2005.

Africa Day 2004 · 24 May

Trade & Investment in the Context of TICAD

Symposium Report

Africa Day 2004 Report (812 KB PDF)

Programme (108 KB PDF)

Media Release (76 KB PDF)


The 2004 Africa Day Symposium was the first Africa Day celebration held after the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III), which took place in autumn 2003. Based on the past experience of its collaboration with the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), UNU set up an "African Experts Group" in 2003 to prepare for TICAD III. This expert group is composed of members coming from the ADC, UNU, and the research community. The small group met for the first time in July 2003 to discuss such issues as the role of infrastructure, capital flows, and the integration and development of Africa. A number of conclusions were drawn, and a policy brief was prepared in time for the conference: TICAD III – United Nations University's Policy Brief.

The Africa Experts Group met again in the spring of 2004 to reflect on TICAD III and the implementation of its decisions. The workshop was also intended to prepare for the 2004 Africa Day Symposium. This time, the group's discussions focused on issues such as trade facilitation, aid and development, and the regional integration of human security. During the preparation of the 2004 Africa Day celebration, UNU and ADC agreed that the 2004 public symposium should bring to the forefront the importance of enhancing trade and investment in Africa. In our view, this aim is in complete harmony with the recommendations adopted on the occasion of TICAD III.

The second reason that this year's topic of "Trade and Investment in the Context of TICAD" was extremely timely is that the discussions of the 2004 Africa Day Symposium provided valuable input for an important forum held later in the year, the TICAD Asia-Africa Trade and Investment Conference (AATIC).

Presentation Slides

Building capacity in Africa: JITAP and other trade-related technical assistance initiatives
J. Smadja, Deputy Executive Director, International Trade Centre, UNCTAD/WTO

Investment and Private Sector Development in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities
Kenneth Kwaku, Chief Representative for Africa, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

Enhancing TICAD Follow up process: The African Diplomatic Corps perspectives
Jean Christian Obame, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Gabon

Africa Day 2003 · 13 May

The Role of Infrastructure in the Development and Integration of Africa

Symposium Report

Africa Day 2003 Report (236 KB PDF)

Programme (120 KB PDF)

Media Release (80 KB PDF)


The 2003 Africa Day Symposium was intended to generate specific input for the G8 Summit held in Evian (France) in June 2003, and for the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) to be held during September/October 2003 in Tokyo.

Acknowledging that the lack of adequate infrastructure constitutes a major obstacle to the development and integration of the African continent, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) has identified infrastructure as one of its priorities. Quality infrastructure is needed to place Africa on a path of sustainable growth and development. On the occasion of Africa Day 2003, symposium participants highlighted the importance of adopting a definition of infrastructure that includes both hard infrastructure (such as transportation, rural electrification, clean water supply and sanitation) and soft infrastructure (such as education, health, telecommunications, information and communication technology, global governance, etc.).

With NEPAD, African leaders have stressed the benefits of regional integration, whereby capacities and resources are pooled together. Symposium participants underscored the positive impact that regional integration can have on Africa's international competitiveness.

Furthermore, participants emphasized that the mobilization of funds for infrastructure development requires close cooperation between African governments, governments of developed countries, the private sector, UN agencies and development banks. In addition to resources provided through Official Development Assistance (ODA), Africa needs to open up infrastructure development to private investors - if necessary, in a mutually beneficial partnership with the public sector. The challenge lies in creating an environment that, on one hand, is attractive and secure for private investors and, on the other hand, protects the interests of the poorest.


Keynote speech by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal:

The Role of Infrastructure in Development and Regional Integration (168 KB PDF, English)

Le Role des Infrastructures dans le Developpement et l'Integration Regionale (148 KB PDF, Français)

Speech of Bernard de Montferrand, Ambassador of France (G8 Chair Country)

The Contribution of G8 in the Implementation of NEPAD and the Realization of Infrastructure Projects (140 KB PDF, English)

Discours de l'Ambassadeur de France au Japon, M. Bernard de Montferrand (140 KB PDF, Français)

Presentation Slides

Overview of Financing and Investment to Africa: Challenges and Risk Management
Ambassador Jean-Christian Obame of Gabon

Africa Day 2002 · 23 May

Regional Integration and Infrastructure Development in Africa

Summary Input for G8

Integrating Africa (88 KB PDF)

Programme (100 KB PDF)

Media Release (84 KB PDF)

The 2002 Africa Day symposium was intended to familiarize stakeholders in Japan with the background and substance of regional integration efforts in Africa, and to provide concrete examples in the area of transport and information and communication technology. The symposium was also intended to provide input to the ongoing New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) initiative, the 2003 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), and 2002 G8 Summit held in June in Kananaskis, Canada.

Africa Day 2001 · 22 May

The Millenium Africa Programme

Programme (72 KB PDF)

Media Release (80 KB PDF)

The theme of the 2001 Africa Day Symposium was the Millennium Africa Recovery Plan (MAP), Africa's own development strategy for the continent that was developed by President Obasanjo, along with President Mbeki of South Africa and President Bouteflika of Algeria.

The Millennium Partnership for the African Recovery Programme is a pledge by African leaders based on a common vision, and a firm and shared conviction that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development, and to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. It is anchored on the determination of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world.

Speeches and Statements

Keynote speech by H.E. President Olusegun Obasanjo:

Keynote speech (80 KB PDF)

The Millenium Africa Plan (176 KB PDF)

Speech by H.E. Jean-Christian Obame, Ambassador of Gabon:

Le Financement du Programme pour la Renaissance de l'Afrique et la Contrainte de la Dette (100 KB PDF, Français)

Statement from the African Diplomatic Corps and United Nations University:

A Message from Tokyo (92 KB PDF, English)

Un Message de Tokyo (96 KB PDF, Français)

Africa Day 2000 · 19 May

The Millenium Africa Programme

Conference Report (124 KB PDF)

The Africa Day symposia began with the conference in 2000, held a celebration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. The conference sought to ensure that Africa ranked high on the agenda of the year's G8 Summit meeting held in Okinawa, and sought also to inform the Millenium Summit Meeting held at the United Nations in New York the same year.


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