June 23, 2014
From June 1 to 3 in 2013, the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development was held and some 4,500 people gathered in Yokohama, Japan, from the governments of African countries, the Japanese government, Asian countries, international and regional organizations, the public sector, civil societies and so on.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the press conference, "Growth exists in Africa. Africa will be a growth center toward the mid-21st century. Now is the time to invest in a growing Africa."
The conference was closed with the adoption of the Yokohama Declaration 2013, which has a deadline of 2017, and of the Yokohama Action Plan 2013-2017 (1).
At the first ministerial meeting, 617 initiatives were proposed from 57 countries and organizations.
One year after the conference, with the air of excitement still present, some 800 concerned parties gathered at the First TICAD V Ministerial Meeting in Cameroon May 4-5 to carry on hot discussions of how the agreements at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) can be put into action. Among 57 countries and organizations, 617 initiatives were proposed, and participants agreed to steadily implement them by the due date of 2017.
For the past year the Japan International Cooperation Agency has been steadily carrying out the actions agreed upon at TICAD V. The “ABE (Africa Business Education) Initiative” declared by Prime Minister Abe at TICAD V is a program that receives 1,000 African students in Japan to conduct capacity building of human resources through internships in private enterprises, which can be a bridge for business partnerships between Japan and Africa. The first recruitment got the program off to a good start, with 675 people applying from eight countries for the target reception of 150 people and 114 schools from 58 universities volunteering to accept the students. The air of excitement from TICAD V was in no doubt transmitted to the African youths and Japanese universities.
Presenters on the One Stop Border Post initiative (2)
As many as 250 people participated at the JICA-hosted side event.
Along with assistance on such hard infrastructure as roads and ports, JICA also provides assistance on the soft side that promotes efficient infrastructure operation. Its representative example is the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) initiative. The day before the ministerial meeting, JICA held a side event that introduced the OSBP initiative jointly with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA), and the African Development Bank (AfDB), in which 250 participants gathered, including four Cabinet ministers, such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Benin Nassirou Arifari Bako. Vice-President Hiroshi Kato from JICA was a moderator, and three JICA experts who are being dispatched to ICA and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) provided explanation on the OSBP initiative.
Though Africa consists of many countries, it was common that every time trucks and freight trains crossed national borders they had to make two stops, at the departure side and at the entry side, for procedures such as immigration, departure, customs clearance, and quarantine. It was inefficient as it could easily take up to two to three days to cross the border, as each staff in each country used a different procedure based on its own forms and criteria. No matter how investment was made to improve the roads, if crossers were stranded for a few days, the effect of the cross-border infrastructure could not be optimized.
Row of trucks jammed at the border between Rwanda and Tanzania (Photo: Takeshi Kuno)
OSBP refers to a concept that consolidates these procedures to common format, criteria and process to enable a one-stop procedure with the help of IT, to aim for a drastically streamlined, speedy border crossing procedure.
To realize the concept, a wide range of reviews and improvements is required, including related facility construction, legislation development, staff training and more, and there are heap of low-key-yet-complicated issues to be solved.
However, looking at the Kenya-Uganda border, where the OSBP was already introduced, as an example, the border-crossing procedure for trucks that took an average of two to three days has now been shortened to just 2-3 hours, and a reduction effect of US$ 70 million in annual transportation costs has been reported. Adding in the increased transport and commerce, the economic impact of OSBP is tremendous. The participants of the event expressed high interest in JICA’s initiative.
Through its field-oriented efforts including OSBP, JICA has steadily realized the promises of the first TICAD in 1993 to help bring about the latest in every aspect of African development, from infrastructure improvement to human resource development, partnership with the private sector, agriculture, education, environment, health, disaster risk management, peace building and reconstruction support. Its activities responding to the needs in each field to aim for a real benefit for Africa can be linked to the success of TICAD V, as well as the trust placed in and expectations held toward Japan in Africa.
1: Under the three thematic pillars of “a robust and sustainable economy,” “inclusive and resilient society” and “peace and stability” for the direction of development in Africa within five years until 2017,” the following six key strategic approaches were set: (1) promoting private sector-led growth, (2) accelerating infrastructure development, (3) empowering farmers as mainstream economic actors, (4) promoting sustainable and resilient growth, (5) creating an inclusive society for growth, and (6) consolidating peace, stability and good governance.
2: From left, JICA Vice President Hiroshi Kato; Yasushi Naito, executive advisor to the director general of JICA; John Tambi, transport infrastructure expert, NEPAD; Janvier Kpourou Litse, director of NEPAD, and Regional Integration Department, AfDB; Philip W. Wambugu, director for infrastructure, East African Committee; Kamau Bernadous Nganga, chief manager, Kenya Revenue Authority; Theo Lyimo, director for integrated border management & One Stop Border Posts, Trademark East Africa; Aboubacar Nomao, director of Land and Maritime Transportation, ICA; Expert Takeshi Kozu, UEMOA; Expert Motohiro Fujimitsu; and Expert Tomomi Tokuori.