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TICAD in the News

The TICAD Media Watch will come to a close with the June 16 posting, "Thoughts from the Leaders." This blog has been made possible by support and contribution from editors, journalists, UNU programme officers and colleagues from around the world. We would like to particularly highlight the contribution of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Mr. Mamadou Kassé and Mr. Mamadou Ndiaye and our colleagues from the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies.

We would like to leave you with a few key resources which remain pertinent to the TICAD process and African development more generally. As well, the United Nations University will be making available online a series of video podcasts, featuring interviews with eminent personalities and distinguished delegates from the TICAD IV conference. We would like to thank our readership for your attention and support over the last few months.


Thoughts from the leaders

The United Nations University has used the occasion of the TICAD IV conference to highlight recent process in African development and Japan’s role in this process since the first TICAD in 1993.

On May 30, 2008, the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development drew to a close. We will offer here a review of some comments made by heads of state as they pertain to the impact, outcome and meaningfulness of the TICAD process.

Yasuo Fukuda, prime minister of Japan, in an opening speech made before country delegates and invited officials, offered a vision of Africa’s future development that was unmistakably optimistic.

He stated, “Ownership and partnership--I am truly pleased to say that these key words of TICAD have become established as symbolic of African development itself. Throughout its history, the TICAD process has represented the bright future and great potential of Africa. Now together with the countries of Africa, Japan is determined to make the 21st century the century of African growth.” (MoFA)

The TICAD process is now, in 2008, entering its fourth phase of existence. The previous conferences have evolved political relationships and business partnerships between Africa and Japan, which were previously absent in such quantity, quality and scale.

The reflections presented below are structured in such a way as to highlight three salient themes on African development, which are core to the TICAD process: the trade imbalance, south-south partnership and the achievement of aid commitment targets.

To begin with, several leaders explicitly referred to the role of international trade and more specifically to the asymmetries in international trade regulation, which stymie new and equitable economic growth in Africa.

Blaise Compaore, president of Burkina Fasao, said of the trade imbalance that marks the divide between industrialized nations and Africa, “Pursuit of unfair trade practices by the big powers as well as difficult access for African products to markets of developed countries continue to penalise our states and significantly destroy their performance in the creation of riches.” (Lusaka Times)

Independent Online, 28 May 2008:
African leaders criticise donor nations

President Compaore was not alone in underscoring the importance of this issue. Drawing on the experience of the ongoing food crisis, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni added, “There is a big problem of food in the world now and a problem of energy. In Uganda, there is a problem of a different kind. We have too much food and no market to export it to.” (Independent Online)

The root of the problem according to President Museveni: “bad policies in Europe, America and even in Japan.” (Independent Online)

Another salient theme that was underscored by some heads of state was south-south cooperation and technical partnerships.

Levy Mwanawasa, president of Zambia, “reaffirmed the contributions of the TICAD process to African development over the past 15 years and noted its significant role in mobilising the interest and commitment of the international community to African development.” (Lusaka Times)

Despite this increased interest in Africa development, President Mwanawasa noted that things were not always progressing as smoothly as he would like, especially in Zambia’s mining sector. He said, “they [Japan] are moving too slow, we want the resources to be explored and we must know when we are going to explore this oil, at least before I live [sic] office I should see the results.” (Independent Online)

Japan is widely recognized as having the technical know-how to “weave with Africa a strategic partnership which is mutually beneficial,” said the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo Ondimba. (Independent Online)

Finally, commenting on Japan’s contributions to the country and continent in the past, Botswana’s vice president, Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe noted that there has been “improvement in the productivity of some small and medium enterprises under these technical cooperation programmes; although few enterprises were involved, they serve as good models of the tangible results that could be achieved through cooperation with Japan.” (Botswana Press Agency)

Botswana Press Service, 2 June 2008:
VP commends Japan centre

UN Millennium Project, accessed 7 June 2008:
The 0.7% target: An in-depth look

The Ministry of Finance of Japan (MoF), accessed 7 June 2008:
66th Meeting of the World Bank/IMF Joint Development Committee

These strategic partnerships are beginning to flourish and the message from the African delegates is overwhelmingly clear: more support and greater cooperation is necessary.

Many delegates, NGOs and heads of state at TICAD IV were keen to remind Japan of its commitment to raise its official aid spending to 0.7 percent of gross national product (GNP).

Alongside the praise delegates offered Japan for its pledge to voice Africa’s concerns at the upcoming G8 Summit, were also calls to maintain consistency with this international commitment, first pledged in a 1970 General Assembly Resolution, 35 years ago. (UN Millennium Project)

The 2002 Monterrey Consensus signed by 22 states, reaffirmed a commitment of 0.7 percent of their gross national product as aid to developing nations. Japan embarked upon its implementation phase of the Monterrey Consensus in 2002, with much verve and determination.

We note that in a 2002 speech made before the 66th Meeting of the World Bank/IMF Joint Development Committee to discuss the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, Haruhiko Kuroda, then vice minister of finance for international affairs (Japan) said, “The first thing I would like to emphasize is that we have passed the exciting consensus phase and are now entering the implementation phase –– a phase that will require a steady, lasting effort;” adding, “that, we believe, should deserve our focused effort, and we do not see any necessity in building yet another framework or setting a new time frame for doing so.” (MoF)

Kyodo News / Bnet, 18 January 2005:
Japan must keep ODA promises to gain permanent UNSC seat: UN report

TICAD Civil Society Forum (TCSF), 30 May 2008:
TICAD IV falls short of expectations, Japan left with homework for chairmanship at G8 Toyako Summit

Department of Foreign Affairs-Republic of South Africa, 30 May 2008:
President Thabo Mbeki Lauds Outcomes of TICAD IV in Japan

However, as of 2005, Japan was only providing 0.2 percent of GNP in aid. (Kyodo/BNet)

The TICAD Civil Society Forum NGO stated in a press release at the end of the three day conference, “A commitment to 0.7% is an imperative that Japan must not shy away from if it is to provide the leadership to the rest of the G8 delivering on their unrealised promises in Toyako in July.” (TCSF)

The next International Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development will review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus in Doha, Qatar in November 2008.

However, in a show of support and a reaffirmation of Japan’s commitments, South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, noted:

“I was very glad indeed when Prime Minister Fukuda opened TICAD 4, because he not only confirmed Japan's commitment to these developmental challenges that face the continent, but actually announced specific sums of money that will be devoted to this commitment, whether you are talking infrastructure development, or agriculture, human resource development and so on, so the commitments that Japan has made are backed up with practical concrete resources, I think TICAD 4 has gone very well.” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Africa)

The consensus – if one is said to exist – remains that the increase in aid and financial assistance to Africa is welcome, but perhaps still too little. The years of African-Japanese partnership since TICAD I are cast in a positive light, leading most to suggest that the reaffirmed partnership will enjoy a bright future ahead.

The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is being used as a yardstick by which to measure progress in Africa, as well as in other parts of the world. The MDGs set targets which are worthy of bold global initiative and leadership. Since the turn of the millennium, Japan, as a donor country, has claimed that it can help Africa rise to this challenge.

However, with the emergence of new donors who play an increasingly important role in spurring investment and development in Africa, Japan will have to do more than just double its efforts to avoid being eclipsed in this bright and vibrant continent.


The “gathering of experiences”

“Besides discussing aspects on the possible cooperation with Japan and amongst African countries, the conference enabled the gathering of experiences” said prime minister of Angola, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos at the conclusion of the TICAD IV conference in Yokohoma on May 30.

From May 27 to 30, over 30 African heads of state gathered in Yokohama, Japan, alongside a host of international organizations, NGOs and civil society groups to discuss how best to engage a “vibrant Africa.”

Prior to the conference, critics of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Africa were quick to note the decrease in aid during the late 1990s, specifically for the period 1998-2000, when aid budgets saw a 20% reduction.

In addition, Africa has, historically, not been a key recipient of Asian foreign direct investment (FDI); a typical concentration of target countries is more readily found in the Asia region.

Moreover, FDI recipient countries in Africa are predominantly rich in natural resources and vast amounts pour into primary commodity extraction. Consequently, only a few countries in Africa tend to monopolize the majority of FDI inflows.

An UNCTAD report finds that “five recipients (Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa) accounted for nearly two thirds of FDI inflows into Africa during the 1990s and more than half in the first half of the 2000s.”

UNCTAD contrasts this with the 33 least developed countries in Africa, which received only very small amounts. “In 2005, for instance, they received a total of around $ 8 billion, less than a fifth of the region’s total FDI,” the report stated.

The Japanese government’s decision, then, to focus more on aid effectiveness – through better surveys, monitoring, evaluation, and follow-up activities - rather than quantity, is a positive development. (Africa Recovery)

The adoption of the Yokohama Declaration and the results of the TICAD IV conference are said to “create expectations that the future is hopeful in Africa and satisfies Angola,” reported the Angola Press of Prime Minister da Piedade Dias dos Santos’ comments.

Amidst the jubilation however, were a few notable objections.

In particular, members of many NGOs have raised concerns over the lack of access to both politicians and conference proceedings.

"In African countries, NGOs usually don't have access to their government, so it is particularly disappointing for African NGOs. If they cannot enter in the room it will be a shame," said Minori Tanimura, a representative of World Vision. (China Post)

It was reported that of the 84 NGO representatives present at TICAD, only 9 were given access to the plenary sessions.

In its defense the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that “only around 700 seats are available for the 2,500 participants,” adding “it's crammed and impossible to add more seats,” according to The China Post.

The continuing dialogue on African development, it is argued, will need to be more balanced. NGOs have highlighted that important input from their organizations as to the structure and purpose of ODA has been omitted.

"But too much emphasis was put on assistance to help African economic growth, and there was not much mention of poverty (in the TICAD speeches and documents), which is a problem," said Minoru Obayashi, a leader of TNet, a network of 43 Japanese citizen groups that proposed policy ideas for TICAD IV. (Japan Times)

The TICAD Civil Society group also raised concerns in the context of its assessment of the TICAD proceedings.

In a press release they stated that “the doubling of aid to Africa is a welcome step in the right direction. However, Japan's overall commitment falls short of expectations. A commitment to 0.7% is an imperative that Japan must not shy away from if it is to provide the leadership to the rest of the G8 delivering on their unrealized promises in Toyako in July.” (TCSF)

With regard to the policy decisions handed down at the end of the conference, they added “growth without social justice and equity is not sustainable. Too many people, especially women and girls, remain poor, vulnerable and excluded. TICAD IV must commit to engage not only the technical issues but also on the importance of delivering for the poor, ensuring political will and being open to accountability.” (TCSF)

The Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development drew a record participation from African heads of state and international organizations.

Pledges, promises and outcomes

Geostrategy Blog/Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 1 June 2008:
Southern Africa: Japan to finance electrification in Mozambique and Zambia, 31 May 2008:
UN calls on world leaders to prioritize health of African women

The Japan Times, 31 May 2008:
Africa awaits real action in TICAD wake: Time to follow through with donor pledges

JCN Newswire, 30 May 2008:
TICAD IV: Yokohama Action Plan

In the period leading up to the TICAD conference, the press abounded with speculation as to the content and extent of pledges that were to make up the Yokohama Declaration and the Yokohama Action Plan – the conference’s two main policy outputs.

Concluding the conference, Prime Minister Fukuda (Japan) expressed his satisfaction stating, “I believe we have established a strong sense of partnership with each other during the three days.” (Japan Times)

The TICAD conference was set to address a wide range of policy issues, inter alia, boosting economic growth, ensuring human security, securing achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, consolidation of peace and democratization, as well as climate change. (Chinaview)

Advances, it is argued, were made on all fronts.

Specific targets have been set for Japan, with regard to increases in official development assistance, encouraging foreign direct investment and technical cooperation. Japan has buttressed a further series of initiatives in the hope that it will voice Africa’s concerns and challenges at the upcoming G8 Summit to be held in Toyako, Japan.

A brief survey of the various commitments and pledges outlined in policy speeches, as well as in the Yokohama Declaration and the Yokohama Action Plan is provided here:

  1. $4 billion dollars in grants and soft loans to Africa by 2012 to boost construction, transportation and infrastructure spending in the continent;
  2. $4.5 million dollars (part of the above mentioned $4 billion in grants and loans) is earmarked to support the purchase of basic foodstuffs in Mozambique;
  3. Grant aid and technical cooperation for Africa is are to be doubled to $1.4 billion in the next five years;
  4. Official development assistance (ODA) to double by 2012, bringing the five-year average to $1.4 billion;
  5. Establishment of a $120 million dollar fund to finance projects to counter the effects of global warming in Africa, as well as a further $22 million dollars to promote African agriculture;
  6. A contribution of $560 million dollars to the Global fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria;
  7. Establishment of a $2.5 billion dollar fund within the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to encourage Japanese companies to invest in Africa and boost rice production;
  8. Japan has vowed to construct 1,000 elementary and secondary schools for about 400,000 children and expand teacher training programs;
  9. A commitment to train a further 100,000 health and medical workers;
  10. Further cooperation with international organizations to develop irrigation systems, improve crop varieties and train workers in the field of agriculture.

In an impassioned closing statement, Prime Minster Fukuda vowed, “As the chair of the summit, I'm going to live up to your expectations.” (Japan Times)


Legitimizing “largesse”

The national and international media have been extensively reporting on highlights of Prime Minister Fukuda’s planned speech at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

Of particular importance is the anticipated announcement of 415 billion yen in loans and financial assistance worth 260 billion yen earmarked for African development. (Yomiuri Shimbun)

Days before, Prime Minister Fukuda announced 560 million dollars for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, with a particular focus on Africa and set to begin as of 2009. (TopNews)

Unsurprisingly, much of the media and an increasingly attentive online community of pundits, have turned their attention to this recent show of “magnanimity”. They have all asked the same questions: why now and why so much?

Stagnating economic growth in Japan, largely due to a drop in consumer confidence, has been evidenced in moderate or low growth rates in the past few years. In 2006, the central bank raised interest rates for the first time in six years. (Guardian)

The looming sub-prime credit crisis has not left Japan’s financial sector unscathed, either.

The financial woes of credit giants Citigroup, Merrill Lynch & Co and others, have underscored the fragility of the international credit market. Late last week Japan’s financial sector took a deep breath as initial reports of combined losses due to the subprime crisis were tallied at almost 1 trillion yen. (Guardian)

So, how are Japanese officials, investors, civil society and the financiers legitimizing these massive commitments to aid and loans? Several motives are put forward by the Yomiuri Shimbun to help clarify the issue.

Amongst the many motives for aid to Africa, the newspaper notes that “Japan is trying to strengthen its relations with African countries to win their support for its bid to gain a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.” (Yomiuri Shimbun)

In an excerpt obtained by the Yomiuri, Prime Minister Fukuda is expected to say “Japan would like to work on U.N. Security Council reform in cooperation with its African friends.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun also notes that “Japan will extend generous assistance to African countries in spite of its tight financial condition,” which is “aimed at burnishing Japan's credentials in the international community.”

Clearly the motivations underscoring this renewed commitment to the continent are as many as they are varied. However, few commentators have failed to note that in recent years both China and India have renewed pledges to the resource-rich continent in the hopes of solidifying their relationship with their “African friends.”

Prime Minister Fukuda will be building on past promises from past leaderships, hoping to secure Japan’s position in Africa’s vibrant future.

Kenya: “…the principle focus: food production and sustainability in Africa”, 24 May 2008:
Kenya to seek increased development aid from Japan

Newly elected Kenyan president, Mwai Kibaki, arrived in Japan on Monday, commencing a four-day official visit as head of the Kenyan delegation to the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development.

The Kenyan president has outlined a clear agenda for development, which is to be taken up in a private meeting with Prime Minister Fukuda later this week, reports Chinaview news agency.

"There is a whole host of engagements and programs between Japan and Africa but the focus for this meeting (TICAD) now is food production. That is the principle focus: food production and sustainability in Africa," said Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula. (Chinaview)

President Kibaki is also set to discuss possible ways of reducing the trade imbalance that exists between the two countries.

"Sometimes Japan put money in our baskets to let us use in some of our programs that we choose. We will be able to discuss the enhancement of their kitty to Kenya," added Minister Wetangula.

Kenya, notes Chinaview news agency, is the single largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) from sub-Saharan Africa, having received total ODA disbursements of 90 million dollars from Japan in 2007 alone. (Chinaview)

Minding our policies

On May 21, the Commission for Growth and Development released its public final report (PDF).

The message: “sustained growth is not a miracle – it is possible for developing countries, as long as their leaders are committed to achieving it and take advantage of the opportunities provided by the global economy.” (Finfacts)

The report was commissioned by The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

“We are acutely aware that there are no silver-bullets to create long running, inclusive growth, and that no single paradigm exists. Nevertheless, the Commission has sought to identify those indispensable elements that need, […] to form the ingredients of the growth recipe underlying inclusive development,” said the Commission’s Vice-Chair, Danny Leipziger. (Finfacts)

This report comes at a crucial time, as Japan prepares to receive delegations from across Africa this week at the TICAD IV.

The Japanese government, notes the Asahi Shimbun, plans to extend $ 300 million in loans to the African Development Bank to nurture African industry.

Measures include, inter alia, the training of 2,500 African business people in Japan; building 1,000 primary and middle schools; and building electric power generators and power transmission and distribution networks. (Asahi Shimbun)

In formulating aid policies and selecting development projects for Africa, the report maintains that “much needs to be done in terms of macro-and microeconomic policies, infrastructure development, industrial diversification, community development and income security to ensure that Africa becomes the next region to grow by over 7% a year for 25 years or more.” (The Times)

Access to international markets, removal of protectionist trade barriers and energy subsidies for biofuels, are also themes that are repeatedly harnessed in this report’s findings.

While Japan and Africa sit down for a week-long dialogue on development and the various challenges that the continent faces, we find the words of Michael Spence in the introduction of the Commission’s report to have particular resonance:

Formidable challenges exist, to be sure: climate change, global governance, rising interdependence, volatility, risk, and inclusiveness which entails making sure everyone experiences the benefits. But these should not exceed our capacity for ingenuity, creativity, and empathy.


Kufuor to report on Ghana’s progress

Panapress/, 7 May 2008:
UN poverty plan ignites mass school enrolments in Ghana

“There are many kinds of benefit [sic] now for going to school; we are served with beans, oranges, water melons and gari, fried grated cassava – served with beef stew,” said Elizabeth Yeboah, a young school girl from Ghana’s Ashanti region. (Panapress)

The focus of Ghanian President John Kufour’s message at the upcoming TICAD IV conference in Yokohama, Japan, will be to highlight the progress Ghana has made in reducing poverty.

Part of a joint initiative launched by the UNDP and the government of Japan in 2006, the introduction of school feeding programmes was the outcome of a three part intervention on health, education and agriculture. The result has been a significant reduction in the number of school age children who miss out on basic education.

Structured in the framework of the UN Millennium Goals, “some 400,000 people in 79 villages across Africa” have now benefitted from similar initiatives launched under UN auspices.

Panapress notes that Japan is one of the leading financiers of the Millenium Villages project, which is accredited with the success in the Ashanti region and which is currently operating in 10 of Ghana’s poorest villages.

Reduce swelling

Leadership Nigeria/, 28 April 2008:
Africa: Former World Bank Chief Tasks Africa on Development, 14 April 2008: Kenya’s bloated cabinet

Since 2006, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been hosting the Eminent Speakers programme, aimed at shoring up expertise from renowned development specialists in order to better inform contemporary development policies in Africa.

AfDB president, Donald Kaberuka, along with a host of top management staff and diplomats gathered for a conference delivered by former World Bank president, James Wolfensohn in Tunis, Tunisia on April 25, 2008.

Coinciding with the international community’s increased aid commitments and loans for Africa, Mr. Wolfensohn warned that “Africa must reduce the multiplicity of decision centres, 53 states, 53 ministers of finance, and interlocutors and integrate its development programmes,” if it hopes to achieve meaningful development.

The conference theme, “Africa in a Global World: Partnerships for Success" and Mr. Wolfensohn’s remarks are set against the dramatic backdrop of recent Kenyan elections. An obvious example of bloated administrations, the new Kenyan coalition government under President Kibaki will face increased scrutiny from the international community and will have to do much to thwart accusations of corruption in what is being called “one of the largest cabinets in the world.” (Guardian)

Mr. Wolfensohn noted that for Africa to achieve sustainable development and a fairer distribution of global wealth, along with ownership of wealth-generating processes and resources, four conditions must be met: “ensure peace and stability, improve the pace of economic reform and avoid slippages, build institutional capacity, and ensure good debt management.”

While the onus may lie on Africans to appropriate transparent policy-making processes and adopt principles of good governance, it is incumbent upon the rich world to help Africa achieve these prerequisites.

Japanese care about Africa

"More Japanese citizens wish to help Africa, although Japan has no historical or geographical reasons to like European countries or the United States. The Japanese government should make this point at the conference," said Minoru Obayashi, chairman of the TICAD Civil Society Forum (TCSF) as reported by the Daily Yomiuri newspaper.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development will aim at raising public awareness about pressing issues impeding African development. As well, it will serve as a forum to discuss policy measures and solutions to counter these obstacles, which will subsequently be presented at the annual G8 summit.

Mr. Obayashi has repeatedly stressed the importance of the TICAD insofar as it will focus attention and raise awareness on critical issues in Africa. It is suggested that a significant change in the mindset of Japanese youth is taking place, which has helped mobilize support and change for policies on Africa. “The younger generation wants to help those in need more than my generation did,” said Mr. Obayashi.

According to him, the politicians and officials who normally discuss development issues are too far removed from the reality of the African people. Here, he suggests the TCSF has an important role to play, as “the most powerful group when it comes to analyzing the government's policies on Africa.”

“The knowledge accumulated in Kyoto on such subjects as the African economy and political scene will help raise public awareness about the continent and promote grass-root activities. Recently, our activities and aid for African countries are picking up steam,” he said. (Daily Yomiuri)


Japan stays committed

Ghanaian Chronicle/, 23 April 2008:
Africa: Japan Sees Continent of Hope, 27 January 2003:
Africa's Quest For Development & NEPAD

The TICAD process has, since 1993, been a stage for high-level policy dialogue amongst Japanese and African leaders, diplomats and business. It played an instrumental role in the establishment of the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), considered emblematic of a “self-help” approach to development in Africa.

NEPAD, according to the Nigerian Head of State, President Olusegun Obasanjo, galvanizes the tripartite partnership – “partnership within ourselves, partnership between ourselves, and partnership between Africa and its development partners” - necessary to bring about a unified and sustainable development strategy for Africa’s future. (

The Ghanaian Chronicle notes that Japan is still firmly committed to the African continent. They believe this commitment is likely the result of Japan’s realization that with a large population and a generous endowment of natural resources, “Africa has a huge potential for development and growth.”

They also point out that Africa has known a sustained period of growth since 2004: 5% over 4 years.

Development on the African continent, it is suggested, has progressed in part due to “consolidation of peace and democratisation achieved by Africa's self-help efforts.” (Ghanaian Chronicle)

The TICAD IV conference is expected to mobilize knowledge, resources and attention for a ‘vibrant Africa’ open for investment and trade. The hope is that the TICAD IV, being convened only weeks before the 34th G8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, “will have the voices of African countries heard by the world.”


The “South-South” Paradigm

"I believe that this trend towards South-South co-operation should be encouraged to break the continuing North-South dependency development paradigm,” remarked President J. A. Kufour of Ghana at the 12th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), being held in Accra, Ghana from April 20-25. (Graphic Ghana)

Surrounded by panelists including the president of Brazil, Mr Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; the president of Finland, Mrs Tarja Kaarina Halonen; the president of Sierra Leone, Mr Ernest Bai Koroma; the vice-president of El Salvador, Mrs Ana Vilma Albanez de Escobar; and a former president of Tanzania, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, President Kufour called for a new partnership between Africa and its development partners. (Graphic Ghana)

President Kufour added that any new deal on aid, trade or investment must be “buttressed on a principle of development solidarity."

Former president of Tanzania, Mr Benjamin Mkapa, stressed the importance of sustainability in any policy that seeks to create wealth for Africans and insisted that “foreign direct investment (FDI) was a key factor to Africa's development and urged African countries to initiate policy reforms that would enable them to attract more investments.” (Graphic Ghana)

Calls to acknowledge the importance of South-South trade and cooperation are multiplying. India’s chief negotiator at the World Trade Organization, Rahul Khullar opening a round table discussion in Accra said “We are now talking about a more vocal South, a more vibrant South and a South that cannot be ignored both economically and politically.”

A few weeks before, at the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Science with Africa conference in Addis Ababa, Ethopia (3-7 March, 2008) Algerian minister for education and scientific research, Sovad Bendjaballa, said: "It's important to form a south-to-south and north-to-south cooperation and identify areas for development. We need to set up linkages and programmes that will unite us." (New Vision)

"We also have big numbers of scientists in the diaspora who we need to entice with good salaries, so that they can come back to Africa and contribute to development," said Professor Edward Ayensu. (New Vision)

The emphasis on provision of modern infrastructure and equipment was part and parcel of the discussions in Ethopia. These were seen as prerequisites to repatriating the educated diaspora, the human resources essential to Africa’s development process.

One could assume that Japan, being an Asian country, would have no part to play in any discussion themed “South-South.” However, Deputy-Director-General Shigeyuki Hiroki of the International Cooperation Bureau (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) made it clear in his January 20 speech in Cairo, that “Japan has long recognized the effectiveness of South-South Cooperation and was engaged in this type of development cooperation.”

Deputy-Director-General Hiroki noted that with ‘Third-Country Training’ and ‘Third Country Expert’ dispatches, Japan has succeeded in providing assistance to a total of 175 courses conducted in 36 developing countries. He also noted that Japan has sent out a total of 181 Third-Country Experts in 2005 and 2006, alone. (UN-ECOSOC)

Japan aims to further its contribution to South-South cooperation in the future and sees the upcoming TICAD IV conference as an important platform to discuss and promote these issues.


Financing African development: whose gold rush?

Daily News/IOL, 15 April 2008:
India comes courting

Foreign Policy in Focus, 9 March 2008:
China provokes debate in Africa

There has apparently never been a better time to begin caring about Africa. In recent weeks, no fewer than six G8 countries have come out in boisterous support of African development: China, Japan, Canada, France, the United States and India have all announced renewed commitments to African development, with corresponding promises of aid and investment.

Amidst concerns over rising food prices, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the attainment of Millennium Development Goals, "vigorous exchanges" are taking place, aimed at highlighting the global context in which aid is being offered. Referred to by some as ‘African Summiteering,’ it is argued that this sudden renewed concern for the African continent is the product of political and national interests, while others suggest that it is due to a common realization that Africa is still far behind many of its development targets and believe that solidarity is underpinning this greater attention.

Taking stock of recent partnership agreements and investment commitments, we have compiled a list of recent reports that go some way to illustrating the aid debate:


The China Post, 9 April 2008:
India pledges development projects for African nations

Xinhua/, 7 November 2006:
Foreign media praises China-Africa summit

Pambazuka News, 8 April 2008:
India takes on China in Africa

The first India-Africa Summit was held in New Delhi, India from April 7-9. Host to 14 African leaders, the summit engaged the Indian government in US$500 million’s worth of grants for development projects in Africa. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remarked, “The time has come to create a new infrastructure for our engagement in the 21st century.” (The China Post)

Prime Minister Singh and his entourage could not detract the media from making the obvious association to the larger China-Africa summit held in Beijing in 2006, which was attended by about 40 heads of state, according to different sources, such as Xinhua and the BBC.

Pambazuka News reports the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs as having stated that while the New Delhi summit would "help the pace and spirit of historic and time-tested ties between India and Africa gather momentum [it] would not be correct [to see India-Africa relations as] competition with any other country."


Washington Post, 6 November 2006:
Chinese-African Summit yields $1.9 billion in deals

At the first China-Africa Summit held in Beijing, China, in November 2006, President Hu Jintao pledged US$5 billion for loans and credit and to double aid to Africa by 2009. A further US$1.9 billion in deals were signed on that occasion. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, the crux of the debate surrounding China’s ever increasing investments in the continent is said to revolve around resource depletion and questionable labor practices, among others. Critics argue that the Chinese bring and utilize their own labor force rather than employing Africans. (Independent Foreign Service/IOL)

The Yomiuri Shimbun notes that while the China-Africa summit is similar to the TICAD series, “China’s inroads into Africa have often been criticized for being too focused on crude oil and other natural resources.”

They add, “China has remained on good terms with the Sudanese government for the sake of securing crude oil supplies. Indeed, Beijing has been virtually defending Khartoum despite a barrage of international criticism over the Darfur conflict.”

Frustrations over China’s investment and labor policies reached a boiling point at the recent World Social Forum (WSF), held in Nairobi, Kenya in January.

When Humphrey Pole-Pole of the Tanzanian Social Forum criticized China for its role in “driving small and medium entrepreneurs to bankruptcy,” he was met with blunt opposition. His Chinese counterpart, Cui Jianjun, secretary general of the China NGO Network for International Exchanges, distilled the options thus: “We Chinese had to make the same hard decision on whether to accept foreign investment many, many years ago. You have to make the right decision or you will lose, lose, lose. You have to decide right, or you will remain poor, poor, poor.” (FPIF)


Asahi Shimbun, 15 April 2008:
ODA programs to open up to the private sector

Described as the leader of ‘Africa Summiteering,’ Japan was the first to organize an aid and investment summit with Africa in 1993 at the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development. (Independent Foreign Service/IOL)

Later this year Japan is to host the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Recently, the Asahi Shimbun reported a drastic change in the Japanese government’s Official Development Aid (ODA) policies. Aimed to make aid more attractive to Japanese business, the government will now provide support to private sector companies involved in overseas aid projects. This is being referred to in the national media, as a “more efficient distribution of government funds.”


Internationl Herald Tribune, 15 November 2007:
Sarkozy wants everyone to have nuclear power – French nuclear power

Craig Eisele (Blog), 20 April 2008:
US losing out in Africa projects at critical economic times

Notions of progress and adventure can evolve quickly. President Sarkozy signed a number of energy accords in South Africa earlier this year. Chief among them was a €1.36 billion coal-fueled power plant to be built by the French energy company, Alstom. (Craig Eisele)

President Sarkozy has been aggressively marketing French energy throughout the continent, having already signed agreements with Libya and Morocco. Other countries in Africa which are slated for talks include South Africa and Tunisia. (Herald Tribune)

President Sarkozy was prominently in the news in relation to Africa last year due to a highly commented-upon speech at the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar on 26 July, 2007 in which he said:

Le drame de l'Afrique, c'est que l'homme africain n'est pas assez entré dans l'histoire. Le paysan africain, qui depuis des millénaires, vit avec les saisons, dont l'idéal de vie est d'être en harmonie avec la nature, ne connaît que l'éternel recommencement du temps rythmé par la répétition sans fin des mêmes gestes et des mêmes paroles.

Dans cet imaginaire où tout recommence toujours, il n'y a de place ni pour l'aventure humaine, ni pour l'idée de progrès.*

The speech attracted some attention from scholars, including Makhily Gassama who compiled an anthology of responses entitled L’Afrique répond à Sarkozy – Contre le discours de Dakar.

* "The tragedy of Africa is that the African man has never really entered history. The African peasant, who for centuries has lived according to the seasons, whose ideal is to be in harmony with nature, has known only the eternal renewal of time via the endless repetition of the same actions and the same words.

"In this mentality, where everything always starts over again, there is no place for human adventure, nor for any idea of progress."

(Unofficial translation from the Royal African Society’s website.)


Sponsor Wire reports that the Canadian government, in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), has just announced a new Technical Cooperation Arrangement, which will see a CDN$5 million contribution to a joint Canadian Trust Fund. The contribution will be completely untied, echoing Indian and Chinese moves to provide similar condition-free grants.

The purpose of the Fund will be to address regional economic integration, private sector development and gender issues in the hopes of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

United States

And to conclude this review, we note that the ink has just barely dried on a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between USAID and the African Development Bank (AfDB), aimed at mobilizing funds in support of small and medium enterprises in Africa.

The MOU will last for 5 years and it is expected that, together, they will be able to raise a total of US$ 125 million. (PRNewswire-USNewswire)


Sustainability Watch, 22 June 2007:
Despite some progress, Africa lags behind in achieving the MDGs

UNICEF/Global Issues (Blog), 4 March 2008:
Poverty facts and stats

Africa, for the time being, is the world’s development ‘darling.’ It is still unclear whether these are positive or negative developments in the world’s approach to Africa. And while the natural resource industries have had an opportunity to assume a greater stake in the continent’s development, we are reminded that “even the best governed countries in Africa have not been able to make sufficient progress in reducing extreme poverty.” (Sustainability Watch)

It will be important not to lose sight of the persisting reality: UNICEF notes that 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. They “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” (UNICEF/Global Issues)


Africa v2.0

AfricanLoft, 7 April 2008:
Special Series Podcast: Investing in Africa’s Infrastructure, 6 April 2008:
Overview of Africa 2.0 Panel

Participants in the recent ‘Africa 2.0: Affecting Change Using Technology’ panel - part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Conference held in Austin, Texas in early March – were the center of a lively debate on the role of technology and information communication systems in African alternative media.

Four African bloggers and entrepreneurs were invited to share their thoughts on the role technology has played, and continues to play in African development. Discussions centered on the role the mobile telephony platform and online forums have played in encouraging information dissemination, especially during moments of unrest.

Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy is under increased scrutiny in the lead up to the TICAD IV conference in Yokohama, Japan. Of particular concern is the perceived decrease lending to developing countries. While Japan wrestles with the re-evaluation of its lending policies, it is necessary to take head of such debates. The opinions from the floor and commentary by the panelists at SXSW, stressed “the need for innovation in the technology area instead of a re-appropriation of foreign solutions.” (NewAssignment)

Homegrown innovations in information communication technology will no doubt serve as a tool enabling indigenous development. While the scope of this forum was limited to English-speaking Africa, the need for this kind of insight is evident – not to mention timely, as Japan prepares to host both the TICAD and G8 meetings, both of which will focus on African development.

In a separate but related offering, the online Africa discussion forum, AfricanLoft, is showcasing 5 podcasts dealing with African development and infrastructure. The podcasts feature talks by African development and infrastructure experts and were originally released on the Voice Of America (VOA) website.


TICAD IV: Clarifying the agenda(s) (Kyodo), 11 April 2008:
LEAD: Africa, donors to address climate change, monitor TICAD progress

Reuters, 13 April 2008:
Development ministers urge action on food prices (Associated Press, Kyodo) 11 April 2008:
Highlights of TICAD Yokohama Action Plan draft

Kyodo News International and the Associated Press, have recently reported highlights of the TICAD Yokohama Action Plan draft, outlining the major themes to be taken up at this year’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

Building on the progress made in key areas of cooperation, this new action plan is tempered by a sense of urgency. Kyodo news reports Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, Ghanaian Ambassador to Japan, as having said of the looming food crisis: “[it is] a critical and contemporary issue, that nobody can seriously ignore.”

Soaring food prices and climate change are being woven together as trans-regional issues that demand global attention and immediate solutions. “It is becoming starker by the day that unless we act fast for a global consensus on the price spiral, the social unrest induced by food prices in several countries will conflagrate into a global contagion, leaving no country – developed or otherwise – unscathed,” said Indian Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram at the ‘Bali Breakfast’ convened in Washington by World Bank President Robert Zoellick on Sunday. (Reuters)

To help tackle possible food shortages and to help stymie rising food prices, Japan will try to focus the discussions on the sustained provision of technical assistance: water resource management, irrigation schemes and technologies to boost rice production.

Along with numerical targets for increasing financial aid and setting specific goals for achievement, the draft Yokohama Action Plan sets out a three-tier follow-up mechanism to gather information, monitor progress and establish continuous talks at the ministerial level.

Climate change will also be discussed at length at the TICAD conference; a first since its inception in 1993. Emphasizing a holistic approach to the climate change issue, the text of the draft noted, “All the countries in the world, African countries included, need to act together, cooperating to establish an effective framework for addressing climate change after the year 2012, in which the goal is to dramatically decrease greenhouse gases, cutting emissions in half by the year 2050.” (Reuters)


The pulse of the debate: the state of aid for Africa (AFP), 7 April 2008:
G8 to double aid to Africa by 2010

Yahoo! News (AFP), 5 April 2008:
G8 Countries weigh up aid promises

BBC, 4 April 2008:
Donor nations ‘miss aid targets’

The BBC reports that a new study released this week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) points to a shortfall in aid from developed countries to developing countries.

The report stresses that the G8 group of countries are particularly vulnerable to miss their pledge to double aid to sub-Saharan Africa by 2010. The report estimates that this downward trend was fuelled by debt relief efforts in Iraq and Nigeria. (BBC)

However, the numbers are contentious and the report adds, “The fall was expected.” In fact, if the total figures for debt relief are taken into consideration, a new picture emerges.

“Aid from many DAC EU countries fell in real terms, due mainly to decreased debt relief: Belgium (11.2%), France (-15.9%), Italy (-3.6%), Portugal (-9.4%), Sweden (-2.6%) and the United Kingdom (29.1%). Excluding debt relief, aid rose in these countries with the exception of Portugal and the United Kingdom (where net ODA decreased slightly due to sales of equity investments).” (OECD)

In response, G8 countries with counterparts from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, South Korean and South Africa joined in talks in an attempt to assuage these concerns.

At a two-day G8 ministerial meeting held in Tokyo from April 5 - 6, development officials discussed strategies for bolstering aid to Africa. Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura noted that the developments or lack thereof would be closely scrutinized by the world community at the G8 Summit taking place from June 7-9 in Hokkaido, Japan. He added, “I’m determined to stop this downward trend of Japan’s official development assistance and put it up.” (AFP)

The Agence France-Presse reports a Japanese foreign ministry official affirming that “that the G8 countries – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States – should ‘strictly’ fulfill their fund pledges as they have promised.”

The discussions surrounding aid policies for Africa are likely to become more contentious in the near future. A juxtaposition of Chinese aid policies on the one hand, and United States, European Union and Japanese policies on the other, brings the manifest tensions of this development gold rush into stark relief.

Central to this debate is the ‘conditionality’ attached to development aid from traditional donor countries. Emerging donors, India and China, are offering condition-free development funds as a way of shoring up political support and access to much needed natural resources.

At the occasion of the Tokyo ministerial, France’s junior co-operation minister, Alain Joyandet, remarked “This new aid is at the same time a hope and a difficulty.” (AFP)

Switching drivers: who will lead integration in Africa?

Xinhua/, 7 April 2008:
Africa hopes China to be a driver of regional integration

"[…] the European aid program has been carried out in Africa for 50 years, but is [sic] does no work," Martyn Davies, executive director of the Center for Chinese Studies of Stellenbosch University, said to reporters gathered in north Johannesburg for a conference themed “China as a driver of regional integration in Africa: Prospects for the future.” (Xinhua)

China, it is proposed, could play a greater role in galvanizing regional integration by way of economic development. The proposals took a similar form to those typically put forth by Japan: Africa drawing lessons from the Asian development miracle. It is suggested that the Africa-Chinese partnership is one which is based on mutual gain resulting from, mainly, a focus on infrastructure development and energy exploration.

While speaking highly of the Chinese contribution to regional integration efforts through African Union initiatives, Zhong Jianhua, Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, said that “China is only a helper instead of a driver in promoting regional integration of the continent.”

The Johannesburg conference was jointly hosted by the South African Center for Chinese Studies and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) between March 31 and April 1.


TICAD’s African Rapporteurs

The Senegalese daily on-line news journal Le Soleil reports that three African journalists have been invited by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cover the lead up to and outcome of the TICAD IV conference.

Drawn from three distinct regions in Africa, the journalists are expected to “contribute a critical vision of the TICAD process generally, and Japanese cooperation in particular.” Le Soleil

The team of journalists includes Joseph Kubebeka Kulangwa from Tanzania, chief editor of the Majira Newspaper ; covering developments in East Africa is Ms. Rose Chumpuka, Head Special Projects, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation; and Mamadou Klassé, PR Technical Counselor of the Ministry of Information in Senegal, is set to cover progress in Western Africa.

Also the former chief editor of Le Soleil, Mamadou Klassé stresses that Japan and Africa share a common future, which is inextricably linked by the process of globalization. Le Soleil

“Mobilize Societal Resources”: Janneh’s Call for Balanced Development

In his opening statement before the heads of state gathered in Ethopia, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh noted that any future vision of Africa must balance development policy and strategy, adding, the focus must be on building “capable states that derive their priorities from ownership and popular participation and that are able to mobilize societal resources behind common goals and aspirations.”

While the recent international climate was such that Africa figured prominently at the highest levels of international negotiation, the continuance of this dialogue isn’t automatically given. Mr. Janneh noted that “at fifty, we in ECA feel that Africa must pause and reflect on whether our development trajectory is on the right path, as we also consider what will be Africa’s future role in global economic terms.”

Mr. Janneh signaled that the Addis Ababa meeting was a timely gathering, allowing for constructive negotiations and agenda-setting prior to the G8 Summit to be held in Japan later this year.

From March 31 to April 2, the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa hosted the 1st Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

Leveraging Experience: Building on Lessons from Asia

Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa, 25 March 2008:
Notes following Briefing to Media by Ambassador Jerry Matjila

South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Deputy Director-General for Asia and the Middle East, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, commented on the TICAD IV conference to be held in Yokohama, Japan at a recent media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa. Ambassador Matjila underscored the tremendous progress Asia has made in terms of economic and social development, despite the obvious constraints on natural resources. Given that Africa has much more resources at its disposal it is all the more pressing, he noted, to harness the lessons from Asia, for Africa, now.

A Sure Way Forward? Revisiting South-South Partnerships for African Development

At the conclusion of the recent Africa-Asia-America Business Summit (AAABS) last week in Port Louis, Mauritius, the general atmosphere was one of determination - despite some contradicting points of view on African development.

The Inter Press Service news agency noted that the chief executive officer of the Economic Development Board of Madagascar, Prega Ramsamy, was focused on the role globalization and trade liberalization will play in reducing poverty in Africa.

Trade data presented by the Finance Ministry in Mauritius, however, highlighted the dismal track record of South-South trade; noting that “Intra-African trade improved only slightly from five percent of total African trade in 1980 to 10 percent today.” IPS

These statements came after Dr. Mohan Kaul, director of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), announced that the AAABS “will in fact enhance South-South partnership which can leverage the new dynamism generated by South Africa, China, India and Brazil.” APA

The theme of South-South cooperation will be center stage at the TICAD IV Summit hosted in Yokohama, Japan. The AAABS conference was jointly organized by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the CBC.

News and opinion pieces have been collected here as an information service, and their inclusion does not imply endorsement. UNU is not responsible for the content of external links.


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

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