Tunis hosts the 8th Africa-Japan summit: Tokyo wants to catch up on the continent

Japan is also interested in Africa. The 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) is to be held on August 27-28 in Tunis. Nearly 5,000 participants including 30 Heads of State and Government from all over Africa are expected in the Tunisian capital.

The themes of food security, health, energy transition and climate change will be at the heart of the discussions. Tokyo should announce on this occasion, a 40% increase in its aid to Africa. This 8th Japan / Africa summit co-organized by the United Nations, the World Bank and the African Union, has the official objective of “discuss how to create a sustainable world together”, in “the complex context of the Covid epidemic and the situation in Ukraine”.

Development “led by Africans”

Tokyo says it wants to establish a real “partnership” with Africa for “African-led development”a thinly veiled criticism of its competitor and Chinese “geopolitical rival” very well established in the region, while Beijing has just canceled the debt of 17 African countries. The Japanese economic newspaper Nikkei assured that Japanese aid to Africa could increase by 40% for the next three years, compared to the previous period (2020-2022). The well-informed daily believes that it is“answer” from Tokyo to the United States, Europe and great rival China all increasing their presence in Africa.

“Japan wants to make Africa a partner and grow together through concrete initiatives”

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

AFP

Even though “Africa concentrates the contradictions of the world economy such as inequalities and environmental problems, dynamic growth is expected there, supported by a young population”says the website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the sidelines of the summit, an economic forum bringing together businessmen is planned as well as “side events” involving civil society around the inclusion of women and innovation.

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Doubling rice production

The main theme of the summit will be the economy with “an expected increase in Japanese investment in Africa”particularly in support of start-ups and the green economy, as well as those aimed at “strengthening food security”. In addition to the $130 million in food aid already planned, Japan plans to “provide assistance for rice production, in order to double it in the medium to long term”.

Second axis of the summit: proposing programs “focusing on human resources”in health, education and the environment, in particular the prevention of natural disasters.

Third theme: support “the consolidation of democracy, the rule of law, conflict prevention and mediation”particularly in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

Producing medicines in Africa

Host of the summit, Tunisia hopes to do well, particularly in health, the automotive and space industries and renewable energies, with more than 80 projects worth 2.7 billion dollars on the table, according to the President of the Tunisia-Japan Chamber of Commerce Hedi Abbès. With its industrial capacities, Tunisia hopes to become a major player in the production of medicines and vaccines. At a Covid-19 summit in May, the Japanese Prime Minister stressed the importance “to promote the local production of medicines and pharmaceutical products, including vaccines”, and announced help “up to $200 million” to “increase productive capacities in Africa”.

The only false note a few hours from this important meeting, the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, will make his interventions online from Japan, due to a positive test for Covid.

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