February 24, 2017
Naohiro Kitano, director of JICA Research Institute, attended the T20 (Think 20) Africa Conference that took place on February 1 and 3, 2017, in Johannesburg, South Africa. He delivered a presentation on the importance of quality infrastructure in Africa, drawing on Japan's initiative at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
T20, a network of think tanks from G20 member countries, aims to make policy recommendations to the G20. The conference was hosted by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) in South Africa, the German Development Institute (DIE), and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel) in Germany, which holds the Presidency of the G20 in 2017. This was the first time a T20 conference had convened in Africa, and it featured extensive debates on the topic of "Africa and the G20: Building alliances for sustainable development." The conference brought together participants from more than 30 countries.
Kitano took the podium at the working group session for "Infrastructure Investment and Industrialization." First, he shared the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) initiatives Japan has worked on, emphasizing the importance of the role that the public sector plays in promoting quality and sustainable infrastructure. He then talked about the need to formulate good master plans through technical cooperation and assign priorities to infrastructure projects. Third, he spoke about the need to employ innovative technologies for the enhancement of quality infrastructure.
As an example of a good master plan, he shared the case of the logistics master plan which JICA launched in partnership with host countries in Africa. The plan utilizes the Northern Economic Corridor that connects Mombasa Sea Port, Kenya, to interior areas such as Uganda. As a successful case of innovative technology, he talked about efforts in Indonesia to reduce the cost of geothermal power generation through improvements in technology. After a lively discussion, the working group prepared its recommendations.
A total of six working groups were held, including "Infrastructure investment and Industrialization," "Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Action," "International Trade and Investment" and "E-Commerce and the Digital Economy." At the plenary session, participants shared their ideas on "How the T20 can sustain the participation of African think tanks and have a more practical and effective impact on the G20" and "How to build sustainable alliances". The recommendations (communiqué) brought up in the meeting were posted on the internet and shared with the other countries concerned.
T20 activities will likely continue to invigorate the discussion surrounding the various challenges in development. Kitano said he would like to use the knowledge and information gained at the conference for future research activities at JICA Research Institute.
On February 3, Kitano then visited the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation at the University of Pretoria, where he gave a lecture on the theme of "Japan’s development experience and its development cooperation in Asia and Africa". After the lecture, participants had lots of questions to ask about topics such as future challenges in African development and the role of Japan.