By Sophie Ogden, Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
In honour of the African/Japan summit that took place from the 1st to the 3rd of June, the penguins from the Yokohama Hakkeijima parc (Japan) paraded in traditional African dress, the “Boubou”. This anecdotal fact actually drew the attention of international media to the TICAD summit itself (the Tokyo International Conference on African Development) that usually takes place once every five years.
TICAD was first launched in 1993 to demonstrate Japan’s commitment to contribute to the development of Africa. The Land of the rising sun believes that global peace and prosperity are possible only when the African problems will be solved. The objectives of the TICAD are two-fold: to promote dialogue and partnership between African heads and second to encourage “African-owned” projects.
This year, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, promised €10,6 billion (¥3200 billion) over 5 years for Africa in order to develop economic growth, €5 billion (¥650 billion) of which will directly go towards infrastructure, more specifically transport infrastructure. It is estimated that overall, Africa looses 2% of growth because of lack of infrastructure. The funds will come from private investors and public support. After the dramatic event which happened in Algeria where 10 Japanese nationals died, the program will also give particular emphasis to bringing stability in the Sahel region through education, women empowerment youth support and health. The prime-minister made personal contact with the about 40 African leaders and pushed for bilateral agreements between an African country and Japan. On another tune, this is a big shift compared to the 2008 summit and it is believed that Japan wants to gain from African resources and to catch up with China´s influence in the region.
In the end what really matters is how investments can improve the situation and how Africa will develop on its own.
Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy