News / Africa

Japan Boosts Financial Support for African Development

photo from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in brochure by TIKAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)
photo from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in brochure by TIKAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development)
William Eagle
In June, Japan made a five-year commitment of $32 billion dollars in public and private funding to Africa.  It will be used in areas prioritized as necessary for growth by the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (or TICAD). 
Japan’s new pledge is nearly four times larger than its last commitment to the group.

Japan committed over 30 billion dollars to Africa's development at the last TICAD conferenceJapan committed over 30 billion dollars to Africa's development at the last TICAD conference
x
Japan committed over 30 billion dollars to Africa's development at the last TICAD conference
Japan committed over 30 billion dollars to Africa's development at the last TICAD conference
The plan of action is ambitious.

Japanese funds will help in a number of areas, including trade, infrastructure, private sector development, health and education, good governance and food production

Boosting agricultural production

TICAD wants African agriculture to grow by five percent a year and double the output of one crop that’s also a main food source and cultural symbol for Japan: rice.
Tokyo has years of experience working to improve rice production, not only in Asia but in Africa as well.

​It has worked with partners to build new irrigation systems and to improve extension services.   In East Africa, Japan helped fund a six million dollar training and research center for rice at Uganda’s National Crop Research Institute. It will help teach farmers about new technologies and production skills.

Japan has also helped create new high yielding hybrids, including the heat- and pest-resistant variety called NERICA, or New Rice for Africa.

Some analysts say improved rice grown in West Africa could eventually find a market in Japan itself.  Tokyo is considering joining the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would likely require an end to tariffs on rice imports – a move resisted by Japan’s powerful rice lobby.

Shihoko Goto is the northwest Asia associate at the Wilson Center in Washington.

"Growing rice [outside of Japan] that is seen as desirable to the Japanese consumer is always a way for Japan to move forward in meeting its rice consumption needs on the one hand and meeting demands for a level playing field in the agricultural market on the other,'  she said.

Emphasis on the agricultural sector does not mean just producing more food, but promoting the empowerment and participation of youth and women in development.
Shigeki Komatsubara is the UNDP’s program advisor for TICAD.

He says Japan and the UNDP worked together with local women in northern Ghana to extract the oil from shea nuts for use in cosmetic products such as soaps and creams.  The women were trained to improve processing, and marketing managing revenues in an effort to create demand and widen their customer base. Today, the women’s groups are standing on their own.

"They became fully autonomous," he said. "Now they are not receiving UNDP or Japanese support. Their products are being sold in Accra;  their package has been greatly improved, and they now have regular customers willing to import those products to Japan to sell to the Japanese consumer, explaining these made by women’s association in northern Ghana and [the products] are coming from there."

Climate adaption measures

Japan has also worked on programs to involve communities in preparing for natural disasters, which is important in East Asia.  Three years ago, Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent crippling of a nuclear power plant.
In Africa, there are a growing number of emergencies attributed to climate change.

Working with the UNDP’s Africa Adaptation Program, Japan helped 20 African countries better cope with weather-related crises by setting up weather stations across Burkina Faso, strengthening early warning systems in Ghana and establishing a climate change department in the government of Mauritius.  Tokyo and the UNDP are also working to improve policies and strengthen institutions that deal with climate and food production.

Shigeki Komatsubara of the UNDP says many measures are simple and inexpensive to implement.

"In northern Ghana, it doesn’t cost much," he said, "and with little investment you can [create storage silos] with raised floors. So if we know [floods] are going to hit soon, people can protect the seeds and agricultural products by moving them in advance rather than waiting till the last minute.

Kaizen

Komatsubara says Japan’s efforts to improve infrastructure, business and economic growth are part of a philosophy taken from the manufacturing sector. It’s called kaizen, and refers to small but steady improvements from the bottom up through the entire workforce.

Japan - UNDP Projects in Africa 2013 (UNDP)Japan - UNDP Projects in Africa 2013 (UNDP)
x
Japan - UNDP Projects in Africa 2013 (UNDP)
Japan - UNDP Projects in Africa 2013 (UNDP)
"The idea," he said, "is to build on small improvements to make the production system or any other system very efficient. It calls for participation of all stakeholders in the area of manufacturing, from production floor to top management, always looking for areas of even small improvements, which add up to big efficiency gains in the end. "

Japanese development experts say as waste is cut and quality increases, productivity – and market shares – expand. One example of kaizen comes from Zambia, where the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) helped implement a plan to improve tax collection with simple measures, such as creating a friendly atmosphere in the office where the public goes to pay fees.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade has created a Kaizen Institute to help introduce the ideas to businesses, including a shoe factor in Addis that improved ways to cut leather and a milling company that reduced flour waste by half. Other countries where kaizen projects are underway are Kenya, Ghana, Zambia and Tanzania.

Infrastructure and security

Japanese funding is also used to build roads and other infrastructure. 

The country has also helped rehabilitate the city and suburbs of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, including its river port.  Japan’s International Cooperation Agency says it also helped fund a 200-meter extension of a pier in Juba harbor. These and other efforts are expected to help promote trade between South Sudan and Sudan once relations improve. 

Japan helps train African peacekeepers and also national police forces, as shown here in Ituri, DRC. (TICAD)Japan helps train African peacekeepers and also national police forces, as shown here in Ituri, DRC. (TICAD)
x
Japan helps train African peacekeepers and also national police forces, as shown here in Ituri, DRC. (TICAD)
Japan helps train African peacekeepers and also national police forces, as shown here in Ituri, DRC. (TICAD)
Japan is also involved in enhancing security in Africa, which experts say is necessary for sustainable economic development.

The Japanese government has worked for years to support training of national police forces, including those of the DRC, and UN peacekeeping operations in African countries.

Some are calling for Japan to use its own military in peacekeeping. But analyst Shihoko Goto says it won’t be happening soon.  Under its post-World War Two constitution, Japan has a national defense force, but no traditional military. 

"Japan needs to go through constitutional reform before it can really expand its military presence overseas. That said, it has been a major provider of peacekeeping operations on a more supportive level in the United Nations,"  she said.

"Now, I think part and parcel of this latest commitment to Africa is the whole idea of being able to train people on counter-terrorism activities and provide some kind of security. But, it’s going to not be in the form of an obvious Japanese blue beret presence but in more of a supportive- administrative “we’re there, but we don’t actually carry guns” kind of support."
 
Japan’s $32 billion pledge to Africa comes amid increased competition among East Asia’s industrialized nations for oil, gas, minerals and even food from Africa. For example, Bloomberg News reports that Japan is looking to import rare earth minerals from the continent for high-tech manufacturing.

Two years ago, Chinese-African trade was nearly $140, about five times as much as Japan’s. But Japan says working through the TICAD coalition of Africa and Asian nations will permit Africa to strengthen its economic base and create long-term business partnerships.

And development experts note that TICAD’s approach is much more transparent than China’s. They say public oversight should help ensure that any economic growth resulting from improved trade will benefit the largest number of people possible.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs