Feburary 20, 2008
Sign of Self-Reliance Development of Africa
(Key Word: economic growth, deceasing conflicts, movement of self-reliance)
Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Patrick Mazimhaka, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today to have the opportunity to share with you my view on African development.
I began my long association with the continent in the 1990s as UN High Commissioner for Refugees but since that turbulent era the overall level of conflict has fallen. On the economic front, too, the situation has improved with an average continental growth of some 5 %. I myself recognize that Africa has been making steady progress.
Before coming to Addis Ababa I visited Sudan, and while I am still concerned about the situation in Darfur, I can confirm tangible progress toward peace and stability in Southern Sudan.
Recently, Africa has shown a strong desire to solve its own problems with, for instance, the activities of the expanded AU mission in Darfur and the organization’s actions to mediate the political crisis in Kenya. In just a few short years the AU has transformed its approach from a traditional stance of ‘non interference’ in the affairs of member states to one of ‘NON INDIFFERENCE’ in trying to actively solve the continent’s problems. I cannot but commend this approach highly.
Africa is making efforts to realize the outstanding potential of its own people with self-reliant development. When I visited the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006, I was impressed that the country together with U.N. was tackling its widespread reconstruction needs based on ‘human security.’ Although I am still concerned with the situation in Northern Kivu, I have heard that a reconstruction project will soon be implemented in the Ituri region based on ‘human security’ which emphasizes the empowerment of local communities and citizens.
But although Africa has achieved such significant changes, the continent remains fragile and much work remains to be done. In these circumstances, I would like to discuss JICA’s role in the future direction of African development, emphasizing self reliance based on the concept of human security.
Rising poverty is perhaps more of a threat to African progress than conflict or terrorism, though they too have to be tackled. Encouragingly there has been progress in providing social services such as basic education, health, and water supply based on stabilization of the macro-economy since the end of 1990s. Africa has recorded steady economic growth partly because of soaring oil prices but also because of expanding economic activities. Accordingly the second and third generation of PRSP shifted their policies to include sustainable economic growth from focusing on the social sector alone. At the third Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in 2003, the Japanese government also emphasized poverty reduction through economic growth as part of its ODA policy. In the intervening years many African countries have shown an average strong economic growth of 5%, far above the international average.
The challenges for Africa are to ensure sustainable growth under African ownership. Timely international assistance to Africa will encourage both political stability and effective economic development.
Recently, African countries have begun to recognize the extraordinary results of the so-called Asian economic miracle, what lessons can be learned and how to apply those lessons to this continent. As Asian countries become new economic partners with Africa through trade, investment, and development assistance, the continent is eager to exploit these links and learn the lessons of earlier Asians successes—for instance, the vital role the private sector played in encouraging a vigorous investment environment and the importance of ODA in expanding economic infrastructure. It is also important for African countries to pay attention to historical facts in determining economic strategy--- reviewing such factors such as the “role of institutional governance,” “income distribution,” and “sustainable development”. In this context, JICA is continuing research on the Asian experience by exchanging opinions with Asian and African economists and experts, to be able eventually to pass on the benefits of these results to other regions such as Africa.
Ladies and gentleman, from the beginning of the millennium, Africa has emphasized the need to improve basic human needs covered by the millennium development goals (MDGs). Recently it has shifted its focus to growth aspects including the development of infrastructure. Within the infrastructure assistance sphere, its emphasis has shifted from hard component support alone to incorporating the soft components for people as well. Given this shift, JICA emphasizes a balanced approach to infrastructure development within the NEPAD framework. JICA is helping to promote regional African development by improving situations at border crossings between countries. This involves not only improving roads and streamlining frontier formalities, but also improving the conditions of local communities and workers.
Let me mention a project to improve roads and transport between Kenya and Tanzania which includes the concept of a “One Stop Border Post.” This significantly shortens the time for custom clearance by standardizing custom procedures at the border gate and by improving the capacity of custom officers at this post. In order to prevent HIV/AIDS infection in the surrounding communities, this project also has a component to enhance awareness on HIV/AIDS among drivers who tend to stay for extended periods of time in the border area.
At this point I would like to explore a little more the important concept of human security in the context of African development. Globalization, while bringing undoubted benefits, has also resulted in the increased risk of spreading regional conflicts, terrorism, and infectious diseases across national borders. Along with these new dangers is the increasing awareness that we must employ new measures and ideas to protect and enhance the security of ordinary people.
The traditional framework of dealing with national security focused on state security alone is no longer enough. Rather, more attention must be paid in Africa to empowering individuals and local communities to strengthen sustainable growth, poverty alleviation and overall peace. The international community has already begun to emphasize this human security concept in its approach to development aid. All in all, I have witnessed in the last decade a big paradigm shift in the concept of security. This new paradigm incorporates the security of people and communities as indispensable components of state security. Development should be community-based, comprehensive, and cross-sectoral.
As an example, a survey along the Nacara corridor in Mozambique has suggested the creation of multi-functional road side facilities known as ‘michinoeki’ which are expected to help both local communities and drivers by providing job creation, public services and regional integration, together with infrastructure construction. The survey result is expected to be followed by loan assistance. Such projects can be covered by combining technical and soft loan assistance.
Now let me turn to peace and safety in Africa—prerequisites for social and economic development and meeting the MDGs goals. Thanks to Africa’s own efforts channeled through the AU many longstanding conflicts have been resolved and a degree of political stability has resulted. This must be followed by vigorous post-conflict reconstruction and development. JICA has already been engaged in this work in a number of countries including Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Sierra Leone. In pursuing this goal, it will follow three main rules;
History has proven that confronting the past is the only way to prevent recurrence of past mistakes and lead to successful reconstruction. In this context, issues of justice and coexistence are extremely important. JICA held a seminar on this topic in South Africa, where people engaged in peace building efforts in post-conflict countries assembled from all over the world. The main argument that came out of this seminar underlined the importance of connecting justice to community-based actions to promote reconciliation and trust rather than limiting issues of justice to the judiciary. JICA has included these conclusions in its training programs for those who engage in peace building activities.
Let me conclude by noting that 2008 will be a very special year. The Forth Tokyo international conference on African development (TICAD IV) and G8 Hokkaido Toyako summit chaired by Japan will both be held in Japan. The TICAD meeting in may will have three main themes:
As for the last theme, Japan previously announced a "Cool Earth 50" project and proposed as a long-term project "to cut global greenhouse gas emission by half from the current level by 2050 as a common goal for the entire world". Climate change is a critical issue for Africa because its impact will undermine sustainable growth. To combat this problem future projects will emphasize actions against flood, drought, desertification and water problems.
THE G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which will follow TICADIV, will deal with environment and development issues. African issues will be central. These two meetings will be held at the very time when Africa is eager to spearhead its own development. Thus JICA will strengthen partnerships with international organizations and other donor countries and in turn the international community and Africa should strengthen their own cooperation to help reach the continent’s goals.
Finally, JICA itself will be undergoing fundamental changes this year. In October, it will complete a merger with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the ‘new JICA' will then be able to provide three basic services for the first time. It will implement technical cooperation, soft loans currently disbursed by JBIC and a good portion of grant aid currently disbursed by the ministry of foreign affairs. As a result, JICA will be able to implement all measures of Japanese ODA under one roof, and thus be one of the world’s leading bilateral development agencies.
New JICA will be able to contribute further through--- 'speeding up,' 'scaling up,' and 'spreading out' assistance. First, it will speed up projects by more closely coordinating technical assistance, loans and grant aid. Secondly, it will be able to ‘scale up’ successful pilot projects with immediate financial resources, and at last, ‘spread out’ community–based development by combining grass roots cooperation such as NGOs and volunteers. We expect that our 3S’s modalities will be welcomed by all. Emphasizing the concept of Human Security, New JICA will continue to contribute to development of Africa together with the international partners. By following up the various outcomes of TICADIV. JICA will pledge to be Africa’s helpful partner and grow with you toward peace and prosperity.