TICAD seeks African development in line with international rules

Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, front row, second from right, and other leaders attend the TICAD8 plenary session in Tunis on Sunday.

TUNIS — The 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), held in Tunisia, North Africa, to discuss Japan-led support for African development, concluded Sunday with the adoption of the Tunis Declaration. With China in mind, the declaration confirms the importance of development finance in compliance with international standards.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who had contracted the novel coronavirus and so joined online, stressed at the joint press conference following the closing ceremony the urgent need to address unfair and opaque development finance, and said a strong and sustainable Africa would be realized. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi participated in the conference’s meetings in person in Tunis.

The declaration sets forth a policy of promoting sound development finance that complies with international rules and standards for infrastructure development in Africa. The aim is to counter China’s efforts to expand its influence through “debt traps,” in which loans that exceed a partner country’s ability to repay are used to keep a country in debt.

The declaration also emphasizes the importance of investment in human resources as a finely tuned support measure reflective of the Japanese approach to such problems. Through human resource development, Japan will seek to create an environment in which each country can take the lead in development. The declaration also expresses serious concern over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and clearly states that the declaration’s signatories respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.

The Ukraine war has exacerbated food crises in Africa. As a measure to strengthen food security, the declaration also includes support from Japan for improving the yield of African crops. The declaration also confirms that Japan and the African signatories intend to cooperate to reform the U.N. Security Council.

Prior to the closing session, Kishida announced at a meeting on Sunday that Japan would support the healthcare sector in Africa by training a total of 35,000 medical personnel, and that it would provide quality education, including for STEM fields, to 9 million people. He also explained that Japan intends to support the establishment of institutions in the field of public administration in order to help democracy and the rule of law take root in each country.

Although 48 countries participated in TICAD8, only 20 heads of state or government participated due in part to the pandemic. The last meeting in Yokohama in 2019 was attended by heads of state or government from 42 countries. The next meeting will be held in Japan in 2025.