October 31, 2014
Japan welcomed its first batch of 156 African participants under the ABE Initiative to Japan Sept. 7 and 15. The ABE Initiative is Japan's five-year plan to strengthen the ongoing dynamic growth of Africa through public-private partnerships.
Under the initiative announced at the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) held in 2013, JICA will receive 900 participants to Japan in four batches by 2017. They will be trained through master's degree and internship programs.
The first group consisted of 156 participants from the eight countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Rwanda. In the first group, 123 participants were male and 33 were female.
This program is Japan's first overseas student acceptance project conducted jointly by industry, academia and government, and it offers promising young people expected to lead continuous economic growth in Africa the chance to acquire a master's degree at a Japanese graduate school and to complete an internship at a company. It aims to cultivate an understanding of Japanese technology and management and to build a human network between private companies and governments in each partner country while assisting with the cultivation of human resources for industry, which is a priority issue for Africa. About half the participants work at government institutions of the partner countries, about 30 percent at private companies and about 20 percent at universities and other educational institutions. Also, 44 participants were recommended by 23 Japanese companies.
In their common training in September, the participants not only learned basic Japanese and about Japanese culture, but also about the status of the advance of Japanese companies into Africa. In addition, they visited trading companies, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other companies, were told about the business of each company and had field trips to manufacturing floors of factories, distribution centers and other locations.
The participants have now entered 48 Japanese universities and 70 master's courses of graduate schools and will study for approximately two years. Their main areas of study will include engineering, economics, management, agriculture, political science, public policy and information and communications technology. During summer vacations and for two weeks to six months after their master's programs are complete, they will complete internships at Japanese companies.