The Yokohama Plan of Action adopted under fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in 2013 has centered its priorities on the development of African infrastructure, the growth of its economy and capacity building. To this end, many projects are being implemented on the ground.
In the area of infrastructure development, it was decided at TICAD V to establish 10 master plans for Africa during the 2013 to 2018 period. For West Africa, the plan will be developed around the concept of high-quality infrastructure starting with the so-called West African Growth Ring. The ring is related to the construction of highways linking the landlocked countries to the coast with a view to reducing the negative impact of this geographical handicap, facilitating trade between the countries and boosting economic activities for development. Burkina Faso will fully benefit from it.
In the economic growth sector, the key program was the empowerment of small-scale farmers. Subsequently Burkina Faso and Japan have joined hands to empower the small farmer, boosting their productivity, improving the quality of their products and helping them export overseas. Taking into consideration existing potentials, some products such as sesame, cashews and dried fruit have been selected to benefit from Japanese technical assistance and overseas development assistance. The Japan External Trade Organization is fully involved for market facilitation and some key players are regularly invited to Japan in the framework of FOODEX, which is held every year in Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture. These people are given the opportunity to meet with businesses operating in their sectors while gaining familiarity with Japanese market requirements.
Since TICAD V, Japan has also engaged in activities aimed at promoting entrepreneurship by women. In this area, leading Burkina Faso women are regularly invited to Japan for training, together with other African women entrepreneurs.
Other projects such as the “One Border Post,” which aims to speed up the clearance of imported goods from one country to another and facilitate the flow of trade activities, are engaged through the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa. In addition to the One Border Post, technical assistance is provided through the dispatch of Japanese counselors to the aforementioned organization.
Regarding capacity building, Japan announced during TICAD V the “African Business Initiative,” better known as the ABE Initiative. This project is meant to bridge the information gap and prepare young Africans in support of the partnership TICAD has been calling for between Japan and Africa. Young people from Burkina Faso have been granted scholarships under the initiative and are now at Japan’s best universities studying for their master’s and doctorate degrees.
Upon graduation, they will join leading Japanese companies for hands-on training. It is the hope that they will use their stay in Japan not only to strengthen their individual capabilities, but also to build up a network both sides could use for business purposes.
Bearing in mind that the objective pursued by the programs under the TICAD process can only be achieved if every stakeholder strongly engages with concrete measures to improve the business environment and better attract foreign investors, the government of Burkina Faso, which is referred to by the World Bank’s “Doing Business” as one of the best in business facilities reform, has taken further decisions on the matter.
These decisions, rooted in a new ethic of exemplarity, responsibility and solidarity, include simplifying administrative clearance for the establishment of businesses, shrinking the handling time to 24 hours in the capital of Ouagadougou and to around three days in other cities. They encourage growth by reducing the timeframe for clearance on construction permits and provide assistance to the small and medium-sized enterprises through training, support for production of financial statements and management.
The initiatives also include the inauguration of a platform of exchange between the One Stop Land Business Booth, the Center for Business Enterprise Clearance and the Center for Construction Facilitation in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso and the establishment of a new center in the city of Kaya. They also call for the inauguration of the platform of the Virtual Linkage System for Importation and Exportation.
With the goal of staying among the top ten among African countries in the next lists to be published by the World Bank, the government has also established a multi-stakeholder committee to follow up on a day-to-day basis the implementation of the requirements on the matrix of “Doing Business.”
Lastly, the government decided to cancel the minimum capital formerly required for the establishment of a Limited Responsibility Society.
These initiatives have resulted in the establishment of 7,564 new enterprises and the issuance of 849 construction permits.
In the future, the government will inaugurate the Integrated System for the One Stop Clearance Booth, which will aim to assist investors and businesspeople.
It is the hope of the Burkina Faso government and people that TICAD VI will further promote business activities between Japan and Africa in a mutually beneficial manner.
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