With China taking up most all the news spots on mainstream media, few are aware that Japan is actually one of the largest contributors to Africa’s development agenda.
As it happens, Japan is on top of the list of funders supporting the African Development Bank (AfDB). Japan is responsible for a large chunk of the Bank Group’s concessional lending arm, the African Development Fund, as it is a major supporter of the African Development Bank’s 7th General Capital Increase.
- Japan supports TICAD8 in Tunisia
- AfDB and JICA agree on continued private sector support
- Japan reaffirms its commitment to supporting African development initiatives
Together, Japan and the African Development Bank led the formation and operation of the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance for Africa initiative. Why is this particular initiative so important, well, it is the largest and longest-standing bilateral partnership that the African Development Bank Group has with any of its member countries.
This single initiative is behind much of Africa’s private sector development, hinging on four pillars: accelerated co-financing, non-sovereign loans; the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, and the Private Sector Investment Finance scheme.
Together, these four pillars serve as the pistons driving the implementation of the African Development Bank’s private sector development strategy.
TICAD perks for Africa: Tokyo International Conference on African Development
At the close of August 2022, Japan held its annual Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). This was the eighth TICAD, and it was held in the Tunisian capital of Tunis from 27 to 28 August.
With auspicious support from the African Development Bank Group, this eighth edition of TICAD brought together delegates from across the continent and saw Japan pledge continued economic support to the continent.
According to the AfDB, some key areas that were highlighted at the conference include Japan’s commitment to ‘deepening its support to strengthen the development of communication infrastructure on the continent.’
Technology transfer is a key part of Japan’s relationship with Africa, especially in promoting food security and developing modern farming techniques along with the overall mechanization of the agricultural industry in Africa.
Another key aspect discussed is Africa’s transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. Ahead of the environment summit coming later this year in Egypt, Japan has committed to supporting Africa’s green transition.
The African Development Bank Group continues to promote strong, inclusive, and sustainable growth in Africa through continued cooperation with Japan.
The event is co-organized by the Japanese government, the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, the United Nations Development Programme, the African Union Commission, and the World Bank.
In his address, Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, noted that since the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) in 2019, Japan had supported 90 UNDP projects in 33 countries across the Continent of Africa with total funding of US$116 million.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina TICAD 8 delivered the keynote statement during TICAD 8 plenary on economic development for Africa. Dr. Adesina also met with senior Japanese government officials, African leaders, and business participants on the sidelines of the meeting.
According to the AfDB, discussions covered partnership opportunities to increase support for Africa’s transformation as the continent builds back better from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Growing relations: Japan’s support to the African Development Bank Group
Among other things, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan has supported the Enhancement of the Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) for Africa initiative, which has been successfully implemented over three phases since 2007.
According to the AfDB media report, Japan has contributed approximately $5.2 billion to investments in sovereign and non-sovereign operations through this initiative.
The report also points out that Japan subsequently invested another $86.9 million in technical assistance and capacity building. Further still, at the just ended TICAD 8, Japan reiterated its funding commitment for the fifth phase of EPSA.
In a UNDP support assessment report released last month, it is noted that thanks to Japanese assistance in Ghana, UNDP is leveraging cutting-edge digital technologies pioneered by Japan’s private sector to enhance the early detection of common illnesses.
The report also highlights Japanese support in the Liptako Gourma cross-border region comprising Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where it has brokered the Trade for Peace project, through which it has enabled over 7,000 people to gain access to new livelihood opportunities.
Further still, the UNDP report cites work done in South Africa, Kenya and Libya, where a new partnership with Toyota is providing young people, women and refugees with much-needed technical skills that are opening doors to new jobs and livelihoods.
Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Malawi, Japan and UNDP are supporting new ways to boost resilience to climate change. Also worth pointing out is the fact that thanks to Japan’s support, the UNDP has been able to assist countries, including the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, and South Sudan, in conducting electoral processes.
In his address ahead of the TICAD 8, Japan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshimasa, noted that Africa is now recognized as a treasure trove of growth, with a considerable increase in its youth population over the last few years.
“To co-create a sustainable and resilient world, Japan would like to achieve concrete outcomes with Africa, as a partner who grows together not as a donor or recipient country, under an approach unique to Japan, which places emphasis on investment in people and quality growth,” he said.
“We would like to demonstrate Japan’s strong commitment as a reliable partner and to provide an opportunity for African countries and TICAD co-organizers to discuss ways in which Japan and Africa can work together to create a sustainable world, with a view to the post-COVID-19 era,” he concluded.
It should not be that even in the face of the world pandemic, Japan has continued to be a trustworthy friend to Africa. In 2020, Japan provided a total of $23.5 million to support the implementation of COVID-19 response plans in 12 African countries and contributed a great deal to strengthened health systems, MSMEs’ resilience, and secured livelihoods.