• by Achim Steiner
  • Administrator, United Nations Development Programme


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) works in 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results.

UNDP is one of the founding co-organizers of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) that was first held in 1993. The TICAD process has notably contributed to the mainstreaming of human security and human-centered approaches to development in Africa since then. Japan’s immense contribution to development via the TICAD process also mirrors UNDP’s belief that sustainable development can only flourish with the active participation of a full spectrum of partners — including donors, recipient countries, nongovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector.

Public-private partnerships

UNDP keenly recognizes that the private sector’s involvement in achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030 requires more than their contribution to tax revenues and job creation. Realizing the SDGs’ vision of a low carbon, climate resilient, peaceful and socially inclusive world requires a fundamental transformation in the way people live, work and do business.

Globally, the private sector is an ever more critical development partner. On average, in Africa, the private sector constitutes 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), 90 percent of jobs and 80 percent of capital flows. On the continent, there are over 700 companies with an annual revenue of more than $500 million, including 400 with annual revenue above $1 billion. Thus, the private sector represents as a key strategic partner for UNDP and the countries it supports in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The private sector’s role is multidimensional — from acting as a creator of jobs and generator of tax revenues to being a developer of innovative development solutions and a champion of impact investment.

As a result of economic and population growth, Africa has also grown into a vast market. Africa’s economy has grown by 5 percent on average per annum over just one decade. Seven out of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are African. The Japanese private sector can provide not only technology, innovation and services to countries in Africa; they can also offer invaluable experience in corporate ethics and human resources development. Such engagement has the potential to make a significant contribution to both the economic and social development of Africa.

Boosting the continent’s growth

A key highlight of TICAD 7 will be the launch and signing of a tripartite partnership agreement between UNDP, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japan External Trade Organization to promote sustainable development in Africa. The plan is to kick-start the launch of the conference with a “pitching event” for blue chip startup businesses from Africa and Japan to facilitate partnerships between investors and corporations.

UNDP and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives are slated to sign an agreement during TICAD 7 to establish a framework to encourage support from Japanese corporations in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs in Africa. In addition, UNDP will partner with Kanagawa Prefecture on SDG localization through multisectoral partnerships.

UNDP’s development priorities

Supporting Africa’s continued development remains a priority for UNDP. Working in close collaboration with our partners, including Japan, UNDP has been supporting African countries to advance development in a wide range of areas including peace and security, livelihoods, health, education, as well as helping countries tackle climate change and improve their disaster risk reduction capacity.

Out of a total of 60, 36 of the new global network of UNDP Accelerator Labs are located in Africa. The labs, which will serve 78 countries, aim to identify innovative local solutions, allow new experimentation and power the rapid scale-up of successful initiatives. This new undertaking by UNDP is just one reflection of the fact that we are reimagining how we approach development in the 21st century. We also want to utilize the myriad of benefits associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as the digital transformation that is currently underway, to help surface new and relevant solutions. The ultimate goal is to support solutions that are tailored to the unique development pathways of African countries.

Looking to the future, UNDP is committed to continue working closely with African governments, the government of Japan, the private sector and a range of other partners to realize a brighter, and more inclusive vision of development for Africa. TICAD 7 will provide us with a vital springboard to grasp this exciting future.

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