By Kae Yanagisawa, Maria Jose Torres Macho, Shigeki Komatsubara & Greg Toulmin:
From August 28 to 30, the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad7) will be held in the city of Yokohama, Japan, with the theme of ‘Advancing Africa’s Development through People, Technology and Innovation’.
The Conference, co-organised by the Government of Japan, the United Nation (UN), United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the African Union Commission, will be attended by heads of states and senior officials from African countries, representatives from international organisations, development partners, civil society, academia as well as the private sector.
Similar to the preceding Ticad Summits, Ticad7 will focus on common and present challenges and opportunities for Africa. For example, to achieve economic transformation, delegates will discuss measures for improving business environment, promoting innovation and private sector engagement. Issues such as universal health coverage, climate change and disaster risk reduction will be covered in relation to the deepening sustainable and resilient society. All these subjects are relevant for the sustainable and accelerated development of Malawi.
Ticad, known as open and inclusive forum on Africa’s development, started in 1993. It was when most African countries were struggling with economic stagnation known as the “lost two decades”. In 1980, the average per capita income of the Sub-Sahara African countries was $622 (according to the World Bank data), more than double of that of Asia. By 1993, however, rapidly growing Asia caught up with Africa.
The end of the Cold War and subsequent changes in international environment did not work in favour of Africa, either. Traditional donor communities were experiencing so-called “aid fatigue” and attention to Africa was in decline. That was when Japan, who emerged as the top donor country in the early 1990s, founded the Ticad together with the UN and the Global Coalition for Africa, with an aim of renewing commitment to supporting Africa’s development. At Ticad II, “Africa’s Ownership and International Partnership” became the fundamental principle of Ticad, leading the global trend.
After the quarter century of Ticad since its onset, we see completely different faces of Africa today. With the arrival of the new millennia, Africa emerged out of the stagnation and since has been making steady growth, so much so that Africa has become acknowledged as “the last frontier of the global market”. Improvement in governance and macroeconomic management, as well as consolidated peace in many parts of Africa, were some of the key drivers behind Africa’s renewed emergence. The international community is eager to work with countries that are guided by clear vision and strategies.
Africa has also been demonstrating increasing leadership for its development agenda. The New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), established in 2001 as a first manifestation of the Africa’s ownership, was transformed to the African Union Development Agency (AUDC) in 2018 to effectively promote the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2063. The latest achievement in enhancing intra-continental connectivity and integration was the launching of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The foci of Ticad summits have also been evolving in pace with these developments. For example, TicadV highlighted the increasing role of the private sector in accelerating Africa’s development. TicadVI, held for the first time in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, consolidated this trend, with the largest-ever 11,000 participants from different corners of the world, most notably, from the private sector.
The forthcoming Ticad7 will be organised building on the past achievements. In parallel with sessions mainly dedicated to the discussions among government representatives, public-private business dialogue and business expo will be organised to enhance discussion and partnerships. In addition, significant number of side events will be organised by development partners and civil society organisations.
African countries, including Malawi, will be able to make the best of this strategic occasion by demonstrating firm commitment to their development vision, policies and achievements. It will also be an important opportunity to mobilise support from the international community to complement their efforts. With rich and diverse range of participants, it will also serve as an opportunity to pro-actively expand network and partnership to promote business, cultural and academic relations.
Today, Ticad is not the sole platform for Africa to connect with the rest of the world. Many other development partners started to organise similar fora. While Africa will continue to engage with these opportunities, Ticad also continues to offer unique values for Africa’s development as open, inclusive and global platform under the principle of “African ownership and International Partnership”. In addition, Ticad has steadily enhanced its follow-up mechanism, to ensure that the discussion at Ticad summits will be translated into concrete actions by stakeholders.
Africa is no more seen as a mere recipient of development aid, but rather, a trustworthy partner to achieve peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. Ticad7 will be an opportune occasion for Malawi to further enhance its place in the global community and accelerate its development.
Yanagisawa is Ambassador of Japan to Malawi; Torres Macho is UN Resident Coordinator; Komatsubara is UNDP Resident Representative while Toulmin World Bank Country Manager.
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