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TICAD game plan for Africa


The seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) that took place between August 28 and 29th 2019 in Japan, is a conference that is meant to promote the idea that the African continent can be able to stand on its two feet by encouraging talks with its development partners.


Hosted by the Asian country, the conference, which started in 1993, is in its seventh edition and it serves to highlight what the African continent has in terms of economic and political potential. Previously the tri-annual conference has been highlighted as an economic story that served to highlight what people could be able to tell the others.


All but one of the conferences have been held in Japan. Only one conference was held in Kenya, back in 2016.


Its achievements? For instance, on August 29 2019, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo, pledged continued support for the more than $ 20 billion private sector investment started three years ago. This is meant to cover loans and infrastructural projects by the country in Africa; the call to adopt the blue economy in the coastal areas of the continent for improved food security as well as employment in 2016 by development partners.


These include the World Bank and the German Development Agency (GIZ),  as well as engineering training of staff at the power plant of the Menengai Geothermal Power project in Kenya. Another organisation is the Japanese International Development Agency (Jica), a governmental organisation that serves the Japanese government by following its policies, including initiatives on issues such as TICAD.


What ethos of TICAD is to justify that, with enough support, Africa can be able to sustain itself says Ms Yoko Konishi, a Project Co-ordinator at JICA in an interview with The East African Business Times magazine during the ‘East African Community (EAC) High Level Conference on Trade’ that was held on September 25th 2019 at the Radisson Blu hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.


“ TICAD is an overall framework for joint commitment for supporting African development.  JICA tries to align all its support under TICAD by screening, supporting and making assessments of whether programs should be qualified as well as make proposals,” she says.


Ms Konishi explains that TICAD works with Heads of States and governments, and thus engages Heads of African States to recommend on the way forward on issues such as economic development and diversification, says Ms Yokonishi. Such projects include the One Stop Border Stop on the Namanga-Kenya border, the  Nyali bride on Mombasa road, Ring Road Westlands as well as academic scholarships, adds Ms Yoko Mbugua, an Operational Co-ordinator at JICA.


But by flipping the coin, such aid initiatives have been accused of Africa being at the hand of donors. Consisting of 1.2 billion, the continent is seen as one that has immense natural resources but mainly is undertilized. 


For instance, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an African country that has over 1000 minerals and natural resources that are enough to make the country one among those that are wealthy in the continent. The reality is further from the truth. 


The government has allowed foreign companies, such as Glencore, to mine DRC’s minerals, with them largely instead of the populace. Political instability has worsened the situation, with attempts to oust the reigning President Joseph Laurent Kabila who has been in power for close to two decades, failing.


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As a result, DRC is one of the poor countries in Africa, with over seventy of its population surviving on almost two dollars a day, states the World Bank. 


TICAD it also trying to remove the oft-held perception that Africa needs to depend on donor aid. This is because in its attempts to reconstruct after the colonization that started in the early 19th century and which ended in the early 1960’s, the continent turned to donors between the 1970s and 1980’s, states researchers such as Jong-Dae Park in his book “Re-Inventing Africa’s Development.” 


The donors offered to make ‘Africa better” only if it adapted to economic policies that resembled the Western world. But at the time that they did not work because they did not have the ownership of local Africans.


Aid has been variously been distributed to African countries for a variety of reasons. In the book, “ Foreign Aid and Development” , the editor, Finn Tapp has found that aid in Africa has been used for a variety of purposes. For instance, either used to eradicate poverty in the continent, to advocate for a political system, as was the case in some African countries; as well as for developing the economy of the continent.


But there are cases where aid to Africa from donors has been criticised. This is because there have been instances where aid has been used to advance donor interests. An example is the case of the political aid given to Cameroon by the French government, its former coloniser. to advance the latter’s economic and not just development interests. 


“ From the time that Cameroon gained its independence from France, the latter country has been able to provide aid that is worth over twenty billion of dollars in the 21st century. This has been in terms of military, development assistance or those in politics. Not only that, but it has helped Cameroon to be able to have ties with France ,” states the Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon.


In an interview with The East African Business Times magazine held on September 13th, 2019 with Ms Okoth Felicity, a scholar at Moi University says that TICAD emphasises development in Africa.


“ TICAD thinks of peace, things of self-reliance and what we can have by self-reliance…like we create opportunities for Small and Medium Term Enterprises and when we talk of livelihoods, we are talking about technical and vocational skills, roads such as Lappset and policies such as Vision 2030,” se says. 


Regarding the power that TICAD might have, Ms Okoth says that this is inform of international aid that would be of importance to the continent.


“So when you talk of international, you are dealing with hard power such as money. Japan works with various countries in this regard. There are other aspects such as soft power, which deal with cultural values,”  she explains.


Edited by Ben Odour




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