The prime minister of Japan has said that his country will provide a new aid package worth about 3.2 trillion yen [approximately US$3.2 billion] for Africa, including official development assistance, over the next five years.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the pledge Saturday during the opening session of the three-day TICAD 5 Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama, Japan. He said the 3.2 trillion yen including ODA of around 1.4 trillion yen would be used to support Africa.
“What Africa needs now is private sector investment. “PPP, or ‘public-private partnership’ leverages that investment. If we recognise this as a new reality, then it will be necessary to revolutionise the way of providing assistance to Africa. How shall we revolutionise it? I will offer an answer to that, but first, I shall start with the total amount. First, with regard to infrastructure development, Japan will provide 650 billion yen approximately US$6.5 billion, to support Africa in the next five years.”
Regarding human resource development, Abe said it is necessary to cultivate human resources that truly match labour market demand. “And to this end I would like to advocate for education with an exit and we will aim to foster the human resources needed by companies in the local areas, particularly Japanese companies,” he remarked.
He remarked: “Let us move one step further. Africa’s promising young people will soon play the leading roles in businesses that connect Japan and Africa. In light of this, at this juncture today I would like to announce The ABE Initiative: The Africa Business Education Initiative for the youth.”
Under this initiative, he went on, “we will offer undergraduate and graduate education to young people from Africa who come to study in Japan, and in addition we will simultaneously provide opportunities to work as interns at Japanese companies. This will be at a scale of 1,000 students over five years. And together with the ABE Initiative, we will set about cultivating “business and industry savvy human capacities” that will lead to employment for 30 000 individuals, making use of the human resources development already being implemented by JICA and by HIDA in the next five years”.
Prime Minister Abe disclosed that Japan will also construct hubs for human resource development at 10 locations in the field in Africa, including in Ethiopia and Senegal.
“We will send experts in vocational training to Africa,” he promised, noting that a superb precedence is existing at the Toyota Kenya Academy.
He also informed the gathering that the Toyota Motor Corporation has built a school in Kenya with an expansive campus. “At these facilities, through a cooperative arrangement with JICA, the school trains technicians not only in automobile mechanics but also construction machinery and farm machinery. This is a school for developing professional human resources operating truly at Japanese standards. We will also invite administrative officials from Africa to Japan in order to create essential systems for advancing public-private partnerships. In this way we will enjoy an interactive relationship between Japan and Africa at all times,” the Japanese PM assured African leaders.
PEACE AND STABILITY
Prime Minister Abe said his country will in the future focus even more intently on peace building in Africa, hinting that the Japan Self-Defence Forces are already making strenuous efforts at this very moment in Djibouti to assist them in anti-piracy efforts and in South Sudan to assist with nation building.
“We will also cultivate the soil to bring forth peace by strengthening our assistance for the consolidation of peace and our development and humanitarian assistance. Needless to say, in the future as well, Japan will not let up on its efforts to foster “human security,” which Japan has taken the lead in promoting,” he further assured.
The Japanese PM stated that his country aims to create a “true partnership” with Africa over the entire course of their relations.
“Whether businessmen and women, or young volunteers with the JOCV, Japanese in Africa have been pleased to go into the field where poverty or other challenges are present, just as if they are going in to apply machine oil on a factory shop floor in Japan,” he said while thanking the 734 volunteers with the JOCV currently active in Africa, including 399 female volunteers, as well as the NGOs active there.
“It is these people who are the jewels in the crown of Japan’s diplomacy,” he added.