The sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) will be held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi on Saturday and Sunday. This will be the first time TICAD is being held in Africa since its inception in 1993.

The decision to host TICAD VI in Africa was reached during TICAD V in 2013 when it was agreed that the venue of subsequent TICAD summits alternate between Japan and Africa. It was also agreed the interval between the meetings be shortened from five years to three years.

TICAD VI, in which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other leaders are expected to speak, will be participated by several thousand people, including representatives of most African countries, development partner countries and Asian countries. Attendees also include representatives of international and regional organizations, as well as people from the private sector and nongovernmental organizations.

TICAD VI will, for the first time in the TICAD history, have an interactive session between heads of state and representatives of the private sector. There will also be a number of side events such as symposiums and exhibitions by Japanese businesses and other interests.

TICAD VI will be monitoring and following up on specific progress made around the critical areas that were earmarked under TICAD V — economic growth; infrastructure development; agriculture and farming; peace and security in Africa; and social inclusivity. It is hoped that the Nairobi Declaration, which will be issued at the end of TICAD VI, will specifically commit participating leaders to the important developmental agendas such as economic growth, industrialization, resilient health systems, social stability and shared prosperity.

It has to be emphasized that a key objective of TICAD is presently to build up African ownership of its own vision of growth and development. For this reason, one key player in TICAD VI is the African Union though the African Union Commission (AUC), which has since 2013, spearheaded the policy and implementation framework now officially known as “Agenda 2063” following the decisions and agreements by the African heads of state in marking the previous fifty years of African unity.

TICAD was incepted in 1993 under Japan’s initiative to refocus international attention on the importance and urgency of African development issues, as well as to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.

In the early 1990s, global interest in Africa somewhat faded after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Cold War. During the Cold War, both capitalist and communist countries had raced to support African countries in order to expand their own blocs and spheres of influence.

TICAD is a summit meeting on African development co-organized by the government of Japan, the U.N. Office of the Special Advisor on Africa, the U.N. Development Programme, AUC and the World Bank. Stakeholders include all African countries and development partners. The main objectives of TICAD are to promote high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and their partners; and mobilize support for African-owned development initiatives.

Since its inception, TICAD has provided fundamental and comprehensive policy guidelines on African development. The summit has evolved into a major global framework to facilitate the implementation of initiatives for promoting African development under the dual principle of African “ownership” and international “partnership.” A central feature of this framework is the cooperation between Asia and Africa in promoting Africa’s development.

The first TICAD in 1993 ushered in a continuing process of support for Africa and consensus-building around African development priorities. Japan has co-hosted five rounds of conferences, that is, TICAD I (1993); TICAD II (1998); TICAD III (2003); TICAD IV (2008); and TICAD V (2013).

Over the years, TICAD’s quality has evolved in both complexity and value. Emphasis has shifted from TICAD I’s relatively simple issues of direct aid to more multifaceted and inter-related themes that combine growth and sustainable development.

African economy

Africa achieved impressive economic growth over the past 15 years with the average real gross domestic product rising from just above 2 percent during the 1980s and 1990s to above 5 percent in 2001 to 2014, according to the African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2016 issued by African Development Bank Group.

In the past two years, growth has been more moderate and while this trend is expected to continue in 2016, it is expected to strengthen in 2017. Africa’s growth is adversely affected by headwinds from weaknesses in the global economy and price declines in key commodities, but is supported by domestic demand, improved supply conditions, prudent macroeconomic management and favorable external financial flows.

The AEO forecast assumes a gradual strengthening of the world economy and the slow recovery of commodity prices. However, given the fragile state of economic recovery and the high volatility of commodity prices this forecast is uncertain, according to the report.

As the African economy has grown, trade volume also has expanded. Japan’s exports to Africa jumped to ¥1.04 trillion in 2015, up 14 percent from ¥904 million in 2005 and 47 percent from ¥704 million in 1995, according to the Trade Statistics of Japan by Japan Customs. Japan’s imports from Africa surged 28 percent to ¥1.40 trillion in 2015 from ¥1.09 trillion yen in 2005 and more than triple the ¥442 billion seen in 1995.

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