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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.