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TANAKA Akihiko

June 13, 2012

On His First Visit to Africa, JICA President Stressed the Need for Diversified Assistance and Regional Collaboration

President Akihiko Tanaka made his first visit to the continent as the head of the agency. During the nine-day visit to Tanzania and to Kenya from May 27th to June 4th, he met with the both countries’ presidents and other key figures. He also attended the annual meeting of the African Development Bank and visited various JICA project sites.

photoTanzania President Kikwete (right) and Tanaka

JICA has dramatically increased its assistance to Africa, the world’s most promising continent, in recent years. The proportion of disbursements for technical cooperation to Africa has risen from 14.0% in 2003 to 20.9% in 2010, grant aid from 25.6% in 2003 to 42.8% in 2010 and commitment amounts for new ODA loan from 1.8% in 2003 to 10.7% in 2010.

The agency is involved in many different types of projects and programs across the continent. It has provided support in peace building and reconstruction for countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire as well as in education, health and water projects in dozens of countries. It is also involved in improvement of the continent’s agricultural production, particularly rice, and in providing clean and efficient energy and upgrading major infrastructure.

Tanaka told in the news conference held at the end of his visit that Japan should continue to increase its overall Official Development Assistance (ODA) despite the domestic financial constraints, which actually is an issue that all major donors are currently facing.

photoA Japanese volunteer Hiromi Sugiyama conducting a math class to Tanzanian students

He also stressed the need to strengthen regional cooperation in order to resolve cross-border conflicts and also to stimulate regional economies.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told his visitor that JICA’s technical cooperation was highly valued in Tanzania because of its technical expertise and its focus on the transfer of technology.

“What we need now is advice from experts for capacity development in the agricultural sector in order to promote better production of rice.” In fact, demand for rice is rapidly increasing in Tanzania due to the changing dietary habits of Tanzanians.

Tanaka visited several project sites including the country’s sole electricity provider, the Tanzania Electric Supply Company where JICA has been providing trainings for officials. He also visited the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center where the agency has been providing a mix of grant aid, ODA loans and technical cooperation since the 1970s.

Tanaka also visited some of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) who work in many African countries among others. For example, he visited the Oxala junior high school and observed a JOCV, Hiromi Sugiyama, conducting a math class.

photoKenya President Mwai Kibaki (left) and Tanaka

In the Tanzanian city of Arusha, Tanaka attended the 47th annual African Development Bank meeting. At the side event, he highlighted JICA’s One Stop Border Post (OSBP) concept which aims to enhance trade facilitation through the efficient movement of goods, persons and services across borders.

Transportation costs in Africa, for instance, are often 3-5 times higher than in Asia or Latin America because of cumbersome border formalities.

In neighboring Kenya, Tanaka signed a Japanese ODA loan agreement with the government to construct roads around the nation’s major port, Mombasa. This project is expected to help both Kenya and neighboring nation’s economies to expand. President Mwai Kibaki called the Mombasa Port Area Road Development Project ‘vital’ to the region’s continued economic well being. Tanaka also signed a grant agreement for expansion of the Ngong road in central Nairobi, where one of the worst traffic congestion can be observed in the city. This project aims to shorten travel time and to decrease transport cost.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amollo Odinga told Tanaka that his country “is working hard to stabilize (neighboring) Somalia.”

Somalia has been riven by war and natural disaster for decades and Kenya hosts several hundred thousand Somali refugees. JICA has provided not only bilateral assistance to Kenya in several areas, but also to refugees and refugee affected areas. Health training has also been provided to Somali officials by JICA.

During visits to JICA projects, Tanaka saw the Olkaria geothermal power station near the capital, Nairobi, which within a few years will provide nearly half of the country’s power needs, in part thanks to a US$323 million ODA loan from JICA.

He also visited the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion Unit Project in Nakuru in which JICA helps the local smallholders to increase their income level. Smallholders account for 75% of the country’s agriculture production.


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