Kishida pledges $30 billion aid for Africa at TICAD 8

Courtesy of Cabinet Public Affairs Office
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends TICAD8 opening ceremony online on Saturday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, at a Japanese-led conference on development in Africa, pledged on Saturday a total of $30 billion in aid for and investment in Africa from the Japanese public and private sectors in the next three years.

Due to his novel coronavirus infection, Kishida attended the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD 8, online. The meeting kicked off in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on the day for a two-day run.

Kishida differentiated Japan’s support for Africa from that of China, whose massive loans to Africa have been criticized, saying that Japan aims to help African countries with debt restructuring, among other things.

Noting that Japan and Africa are partners that grow together, Kishida said Japan attaches importance to investment in people and the quality of growth.

Japan will help African countries realize economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner, or green growth, and support startups, Kishida said, adding that his country plans to nurture 300,000 personnel in Africa, mainly in industrial sectors, and the fields of health and medicine, in the next three years.

Kishida also announced a plan to provide up to $5 billion in loans in cooperation with the African Development Bank (AfDB) for infrastructure development. Of the total, Japan will set up a 1-billion-dollar special quota for highly transparent development financing.

Apparently bearing in mind China’s so-called “debt trap” diplomacy, in which the country increases its influence over developing nations by making them heavily indebted, Kishida said that Japan will help Africa become resilient and sustainable.

Kishida also stressed the importance of maintaining and enhancing the rules-based international order, seeking Africa’s cooperation in promoting the free and open Indo-Pacific initiative and the reform of the U.N. Security Council.

Regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kishida said that if unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force are tolerated, the impacts will spread all over the world, including Africa.

He also blamed Russia for Africa’s ongoing food crisis.

Japan and the AfDB will offer $300 million in joint loans for supporting food production, Kishida said. The prime minister also said his country will nurture 200,000 farmers in Africa.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi took part in TICAD 8 in person as a special envoy of the prime minister.

According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, 48 African countries joined TICAD 8. But the number of top-level officials taking part in the meeting dropped to about 20 from 42 in TICAD 7 in 2019.

TICAD 8 is expected to adopt a statement Sunday to wrap up the two-day discussions.