I joined JICA in 2002, thereafter I worked in JICA headquarters in Tokyo where I had been in charge of grant aid projects and energy sector development projects in various regions across the globe. After that, I was assigned to JICA Ghana Office, where I worked from 2009 to 2013. This was my first work experience in the African continent as resident JICA officer. In Ghana, I was engaged in infrastructure sector development projects such as the development of roads, bridges, power supply infrastructure and the development of master plans for urban areas. I was also in charge of agricultural sector and industrial development sector projects and I realized that these two sectors form the bedrock of Africa's great potential for growth.
When I was leaving Ghana at the end of my assignment, I was given a warm farewell message by my Ghanaian colleagues, "If you drink African water once, it is sure you will come back to Africa again. So, we expect you to come back to Africa in the future!" Since then, I was convinced that my career will inevitably lead me to return to Africa sometime in the future and it has been my wish to walk along with the African people and countries towards their peace and development.
After returning to headquarters following the end of my tenure in Ghana, I worked on energy sector development in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. I was also tasked with handling security management for JICA projects in African countries. Since then I have been continuously following up on the situation in South Sudan.
Finally in 2020, my long-time wish was fulfilled. I was assigned to JICA South Sudan Office as Chief Representative. The warm and prescient message I was given upon my departure by my colleagues in Ghana came true and now I feel I am destined to dedicate my work to the people of South Sudan.
Even before South Sudan's independence in 2011, JICA has been cooperating with counterparts in South Sudan in the implementation of projects, primarily focusing on master plan development in the agricultural and urban planning sectors, contributing to the restoration of people's livelihoods. JICA has also been cooperating with counterparts in South Sudan in human resource development for basic social services, especially in the education, water and sanitation sectors and in infrastructure development targeting bridges and water supply systems. Furthermore, JICA has also been actively cooperating with counterparts in improving public finance and governance in order to enable the government to enhance its prerogative functions and gain people's trust. Additionally, we are engaged in activities that promote social welfare of youth and vulnerable groups and activities that will mainstream gender equality, empowerment and transformation.
The construction of a new bridge over the Nile, officially named "Freedom Bridge", and the development of water supply facilities in Juba, are currently ongoing grant aid projects, which will undoubtedly contribute to the improvement of livelihoods and the enhancement of economic growth that will benefit the inhabitants of Juba City. Moreover, JICA has continued to cooperate with our counterparts in the implementation of the ‘National Unity Day' which plays a critical role in enhancing social cohesion through sports. This cooperation has even developed into a fruitful partnership with Japanese society. Maebashi City in Japan has recognized the significance of promoting peace in South Sudan and has accepted a special long-term pre-camp for South Sudanese athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This host town initiative is strongly supported by the goodwill of the people of Maebashi and even nationwide across Japan. I believe this friendship between the two countries and the efforts of the athletes will encourage the people of South Sudan towards peace.
Through these continuous collaboration, JICA has fostered strong partnerships with all our counterparts in South Sudan. South Sudan is now taking important steps to rebuild the country under the leadership of Transitional Government of National Unity. JICA remains committed to continuing its cooperation by taking advantage of our great relationships with our counterparts of South Sudan and actively working towards sustainable and stable nation-building in accordance with the policy of the Government of Japan on official development assistance in Africa.
Currently, as the new coronavirus spreads globally, robust and immediate action is required by the government and the people of South Sudan to address this new infectious disease, adding to the many challenges they originally faced. Nevertheless, we believe South Sudan is strongly committed to tackling and preventing the spread of new infections and sustaining people's lives and economic activities.
Despite these perverse challenges, the people of South Sudan will continue their own nation-building process that no other country in the world has ever experienced. JICA South Sudan Office is always committed to stay close to, and walk together with the people of South Sudan, towards their hope for the future prosperity.
Thank you very much.
JICA South Sudan Office