AFRI-CONVERSE 2024 #01 “Africa 2063: Unpacking the Potential of MSMEs and Championing Grassroots Ingenuity” to be held on March 15th



The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kyoto University, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will jointly organize AFRI CONVERSE, an interactive seminar event featuring a panel of experts and field-level representatives on development issues in Africa.

This 17th AFRI CONVERSE, will focus on the potential of local industries and technologies in private sector development in Africa, with focus to TICAD 9 to be held in 2025, and will discuss the possibility of co-creation and collaboration between Africa and Japan through maximizing the potential of small, medium and micro enterprises and entrepreneurs who support local economies. The members of panel include Dr. Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist, UNDP Africa Bureau, and Professor Motoki Takahashi of Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), Division of African Area Studies.

The main session will feature speakers such as a consultant involved in JICA's healthcare industry development program that leverages Africa's potential and an Ethiopian entrepreneur who utilizes local materials. They discuss the potential of local solutions and the current status and challenges of their utilization, as well as future prospects.

Programme (JST)

Time Content
17:00~17:01 Opening
17:01~17:05 Introduction
17:05~18:25 Panel Discussion and Q&A
18:25〜18:30 Closing

Pre-Registration (Required)

Featured Speakers (Including online speakers)

  • Fayza Shemsu, CEO& Co-Founder, BINA PADS (Ethiopia)
  • Angela Ahadome, Boston Consulting Group
  • Motoki Takahashi, Professor, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
  • Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist, Head, Strategy, Analysis and Research, Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP
  • Shuhei Ueno, Deputy Director General (for Planning and TICAD Process), Africa Dept., JICA (Moderator)


As was discussed in the recent Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the importance of promoting investment and business from Japan to Africa has been growing significantly. This trend is reflected in the number of Japanese companies operating in Africa, which has increased markedly from 520 in 2010 to 858 in 2018. It signifies the growing momentum among Japanese companies to make most of the economic opportunities in the fast-growing African continent.

In search for sustainable business in Africa, it is important for the Japanese private sector to recognize the potential of local solutions. This is particularly true in Sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 85% of the workforce is engaged in the informal sector, encompassing a large portion of the region's young labor force. In some Sub-Saharan African countries, economic activity in the informal sector accounts for over 60% of gross domestic product (GDP).

In light of this background, it is important for future discussions on investment and business promotion in Africa to utilize and collaborate with the potential and resources of local and grassroots companies and industries. Co-creation with locally originated initiatives not only builds strong partnerships, but also creates an environment conducive to inclusive economic growth. This is because local and grassroots companies and industries are highly resourceful and sustainable, able to tap into the unique needs and diverse cultures of the region, and have the potential to promote community cohesion and lay the foundation for development.

One such example is JICA's Home Grown Solutions project, which supports local companies in Africa that are seeking to solve problems in the healthcare sector with products and services originating in Africa.


Since 2020, JICA and UNDP have co-hosted AFRI CONVERSE, an interactive seminar on the theme of TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) and its African development issues. AFRI CONVERSE has been held 16 times to date with a total of approximately 3,500 participants from Japan and Africa, to follow up on development issues addressed at past TICAD conferences as well as to foster discussion in preparation for the future TICAD conferences. The 17th AFRI CONVERSE will be held in Japanese (simultaneous interpretation in English and French available) in anticipation of the next TICAD 9 to be held in Yokohama in 2025, and in order to make many more Japanese people familiar with development issues in Africa.


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