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Speech Transcripts

December 4, 2012

Speech: 'Drivers of Japan's Development Engagement with Africa'

Chatham House, London, the United Kingdom

Royal Institute of International Affairs,
Chatham House, London, 5-6pm, 4th December 2012

Introduction

It is my great pleasure and honour to be at Chatham House today, and indeed a privilege to be able to speak on a topic that is important to me as JICA's President and to Japan. I would like to discuss what is driving the relations between Japan and Africa from three perspectives: first, from the perspective of somebody studying international politics more than 30 years, second, from the perspective of a desirable modality of in ternational development cooperation, and third, from the perspective of Japan's engagement with Africa, especially the process behind the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, known as TICAD.

The World System in the 21st Century

The first perspective: in a book that I wrote in 1996, I submitted a view that the current world system was at an historic turning point which only happens once every several centuries. In fact, the title of the book was The New Middle Ages. I argued that the contemporary world was becoming similar to the European Middle Ages in terms of the complex make-up of sovereign states and non-state actors including private enterprises, local and international NGOs, informal interest groups and even warring and terrorist groups through globalization and economic interdependency. Now this transformation I argued 16 years ago appears clearer. Globalization has accelerated in conjunction with the development of information and communication technologies. Social networking connects people within countries, across borders and continents, like we saw in the ‘Arab Spring Uprising' and ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement'.

This fundamental shift of actor composition is now corresponded with the end of the overwhelming superiority of the western economy since the Industrial Revolution. New growth centers are emerging in many parts of the world. Furthermore, even on the stage of the inter-state relations, new powers are emerging since the end of the Cold War.

In this changing world system, our conventional view of developed and developing countries, the North and the South, is no longer an accurate description of today's world; one the one hand we see vocal, dynamic new emerging economies, and on the other we see fragile states suffering from conflict and poverty.

New Development Cooperation

In the light of this changing world system, I am would like to touch upon the second perspective: we also need to rethink the way we practice international development cooperation.

The traditional flow of development assistance from the governments in the North to governments in the South has become increasingly less dominant; newly emerging economies participate in development cooperation. Furthermore, the private financial flows to developing countries have grown even more rapidly.

In this process of expanding stakeholders in the development cooperation, I would like to submit that the development cooperation cannot be a simple transfer of hardware and software established in the "advanced North" to the "less advanced South." The interaction between the providers and recipients of international cooperation should be more complex and better be conceived of as a process of what I call "mutual learning and joint solution discovery".

Tomorrow's developed counties will not be able to cope with the challenge by simply importing systems from today's developed countries, whose systems might have proved to be wanting, if not completely faulty. Thus, in a world faced with multitudes of tasks with no ready-made solutions, development cooperation must take the form of "mutual learning and joint solution discovery".

Just a few days ago, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation honoured JICA for years of dedication to South-South cooperation. It also conferred us the Solution Award for our Triangular Cooperation project which seeks to improve the quality of health services by transferring experience of Japan-Sri Lanka cooperation to African countries. It seems that JICA has practiced what I mean. In South-South cooperation, I believe there are greater opportunities for mutual interaction and learning through sharing experiences amongst emerging new donors and developing countries.

You may have seen a recent article in The Guardian about Brazil's phenomenal corn production this year. In the past several years, Brazil has catapulted to become a food exporting country, and is now among the world's top five exporters of grain. Brazil has achieved this by converting its savannah region, known as Cerrado in Portuguese, from scrubland to the "world's great breadbaskets". JICA played a major part in Brazil's transformation of the Cerrado through a $774 million development programme spanning two decades. Today, Brazil along with JICA is transferring the know-how through mutual learning and joint solution discovery to Mozambique to support the development of its agriculture. This is yet another prominent example of Triangular Cooperation.

Now where does Africa stand in this new world system and development cooperation?

Africa displays many of the characteristics of the transformation of the world system I mentioned. Africa has grown at more than 5 per cent per annum in the past decade. South Africa is now an obvious emerging economy; Angola, Rwanda and Ghana are registering good economic performance. We cannot forget about the growing role of the private sector. However, many African countries still depend on natural resources for their growth; and a vast number of them are vulnerable to shocks such as conflicts, natural disasters and regional or global economic crisis.

Achievements through the TICAD Process

Here comes our third perspective: TICAD. Held every five years since 1993, TICAD is attended by African Heads of States and development partners. The conference serves as a multilateral platform for raising international awareness to African development and agreeing on strategies and priorities.

Let me give you some highlights in the TICAD process so far.

First, the promotion of regional integration and economic corridors through improving inter-urban and cross border connectivity. To promote regional integration and economic corridors, JICA, the African Development Bank and other development institutions have jointly financed the construction of development corridors and One Stop Border Posts to streamline border crossing procedures. These constructions are in progress in the Nacala Corridor in Mozambique, and the Northern and Central Corridors of the East African Community.

Second, the development of sub-regional power pools for stable power supply. In Kenya, JICA and the European Investment Bank and other donors are co-financing the construction of the Olkaria geothermal power plant that will generate low carbon energy. It will supply half of Kenya's power needs. A transmission line project in Tanzania is co-financed by five international financing institutions including Japan, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.

Third, the improvement of agricultural productivity including promotion of rice cultivation. The Coalition for African Rice Development, or CARD, aims to double rice production in Africa by 2018 and has so far seen production increase of 32% from 14 million tons in 2008 to 18.5 million tons in 2010.

Three Themes Underlying TICAD V

Now TICAD V. The fifth session of TICAD will be held in Yokohama on 1-3 June next year. It is co-hosted by the Africa Union Commission, UN-UNDP, the World Bank, and Japan. Together with African colleagues, representatives of international organizations, and many stakeholders, we would like to make TICAD V another important occasion of "mutual learning and joint solution discovery".

TICAD-V sets out three key themes which will be the basis for TICAD-V's action framework.

The first theme is "economic and social transformation". Recent economic growth of African countries has been sustained by international price hike of minerals and agro-products. However, despite these achievements, it is important for African countries to also focus on economic and social transformation taking into account the demographic bulge of the youth.

Concrete actions desired to be taken may include: 1) the provision of information on the business environment, 2) human resource development, 3) improving business environment such as the reforming customs system to attract investments, and 4) supporting private ventures and pilot projects. Official development financing can also take a more proactive approach to leverage private financing for development.

The second theme is "regional integration". Regional integration in Africa is vital for economic development as Africa has, on the one hand, a number of countries that are landlocked or with small population and, on the other, some resource-rich and large-scale economies such as South Africa and Nigeria. These economies have to be connected effectively by accelerating their regional integration and making the market larger and more attractive.

We are committed to ensure our assistance bring about significant impact across the country and region. Our support will be extended to strategically roll out comprehensive regional development with emphasis on development of economic corridors and natural resources. Our support will also be tailored to drastically improve energy access and boost broad-based energy development including establishment of power pools. This would require international collaboration that underpins the best mix of large-scale financing from the public and private sectors.

The third theme is a "country-based approach". Each African country develops and grows at different pace and encounters different challenges. For example, resource-rich countries are facing challenges to reform their economies more inclusive and diversified to make people enjoy the fruits of economic growth. On the other hand, the major challenge for fragile states is to consolidate peace and security through overcoming limited human resource capacity, and poor economic and governance performance. Obviously there are no ready-made solutions that could mechanically be applied to conflict affected countries such as Somalia and Mali and post-conflict countries such as South Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire, we must craft strategies carefully so that they take into account these different and evolving situations in each country, Hence, approaches based on country conditions are important for designing development cooperation.

Conclusion

Africa could be a new pole in the new multi-polarized world system. Africa needs to be more positively and actively engaged in the new world system, not subject to it. Africa is our partner of "mutual learning and joint solution discovery."

The Gleneagles Summit of 2005 brought Africa's development into sharp focus, and provided the basis for discussion in TICAD IV. One of the outcomes was my Government's promise to double its aid volume to Africa. JICA has kept that promise.

Next year, Japan and the UK can again create positive actions through a happy coincidence in the international calendar: TICAD V's meeting and the UK's G8 Summit, both in June 2013. I am optimistic about such convergence and sincerely wish that the Japan and the UK can jointly mobilize international wisdoms for Africa's development.

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