Present and Future of African Integration
-- Towards a New Japan-Africa Relationship --
Keynote Speech by Ms Chinami Nishimura,
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs
August 3, 2010
His Excellency Mr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am Chinami Nishimura, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.
I am grateful that so many people are here to participate in this symposium today and, on behalf of the organiser, express my gratitude to the distinguished guests and those who have assisted in the arrangements for the symposium. In particular, I would like to reiterate my appreciation to His Excellency Mr Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, for kindly sparing time out of his busy schedule to deliver one of the keynote speeches.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Year of Africa in 1960, in which 17 African countries achieved independence. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to take the opportunity to host this symposium with the aim of reviewing the past Japan-Africa relationship and looking to its future.
1. Tomorrow's Africa - Africa in Ten Years' Time
(1) Recent Developments in Africa
In recent years, Africa has made significant progress in many areas. Though currently suffering the after-effects of the recent financial crisis, Africa achieved the high average annual growth rate of 5.3% during the 10 years between 1999 and 2008. Compared to the situation in the 1990s, a number of conflicts and civil wars have been resolved. Moreover, as the establishment of the African Union testifies, African nations are making steady progress in integrating their political, economic and development policies, though a lot remains to be done. Against this backdrop, the international community is increasingly viewing Africa as 'the continent of hope and opportunity'.
(2) Africa in Ten Years' Time
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now let us imagine what Africa will be like in 10 years' time. Its population will have increased by some hundred millions from the current level of one billion, thanks to the world's highest population growth rate of 2.3% yearly. If Africa succeeds in capitalising on its large population and abundant natural resources, it will be able to achieve rapid and stable economic growth. Moreover, if its endeavours to promote peace and stability bear fruit, a number of conflicts will be resolved, making it possible to accelerate reconstruction efforts. Such a positive scenario will enable Africa to realise a society where its people can truly fulfil their potential.
2. Japan's Efforts
(1) General Situation
The realisation of Africa as 'the continent of hope and opportunity' is not just a dream. By taking ownership of its future and with the support of the international community, Africa will be able to fulfil its great potential.
In order to pave the way for that goal, Japan will maintain and strengthen the TICAD process, calling for the broad participation of the relevant countries and international institutions. I myself recently attended the Seventeenth Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU held in Kampala and reiterated that the Kan administration would maintain Japan's commitment to steadily delivering on the pledges made at TICAD IV. Today, I would like to make a few points on the current Government's policy on Africa, focusing on three aspects, namely the promotion of trade and investment, development assistance, and peace and security.
(2) Promotion of Trade and Investment
Firstly, allow me to touch upon the promotion of trade and investment. Since the total amount of foreign direct investment in Sub-Saharan Africa has been exceeding that of foreign aid since 2007, clearly the activities of the private sector comprise a crucial factor for making Africa a 'continent of hope and opportunity'.
The Kan administration has launched its "New Growth Strategy" and announced a national policy of expanding trade and investment, including the export of infrastructure packages abroad, particularly to emerging and resource-rich countries. Japan will pursue such efforts in Africa as well, in order to deepen its economic relations with the continent. In this regard, Japan plans to dispatch a Joint Mission for Promoting Trade and Investment to the southern African region this autumn, with a view to further strengthening public-private partnerships. Furthermore, by expanding the policy measures implemented by institutions such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan will support the trade and investment activities of private companies.
At TICAD IV, the Government of Japan made a commitment to provide assistance for doubling Japan's direct investment in Africa. In other words, Japan aims to double its five-year average investment balance between 2002 and 2006 of 1.7 billion US dollars to 3.4 billion between 2008 and 2012. Japan will implement the above-mentioned measures so as to achieve the goal of doubling direct investment.
(3) Development Assistance
Secondly, Japan intends to strengthen development assistance to Africa. Although it is facing severe fiscal circumstances and the total amount of ODA is on a downward trend, Japan will give special consideration to its commitment to doubling Japan's ODA to Africa and will steadily implement measures to achieve that target.
I recently visited the project site for the "NERICA (New Rice for Africa) Rice Promotion Project" in Uganda, to which Japan is providing technical assistance. There I saw with my own eyes the contribution of Japanese technology to improving the food situation in Africa. Enhanced infrastructure and the promotion of agriculture are vital to the economic growth of Africa. Accordingly, as Foreign Minister Okada announced at the Second TICAD IV Ministerial Follow-up Meeting held in Arusha in May, Japan will provide yen loans worth up to two billion US dollars over two years for the improvement of the infrastructures that connect the African continent by economic corridors. In addition, Japan will contribute to Africa's economic development by pursuing synergies among resource development, rural development and market integration.
At the same time, Japan is also utilising its ODA for the achievement of the MDGs. A continued high growth rate does not mean growth in the true sense, if people cannot rise out of poverty or if living standards are not improved throughout society. We need to realise a society where every African is ensured sufficient clothing, food and housing, and can enjoy the dividend of growth. In order to bring such a society into being, Japan is strengthening its assistance efforts in the fields of health, water and sanitation, education and food security in order to attain the MDGs of African countries, while promoting the concept of human security. In this connection, Japan will steadily provide assistance worth about one billion US dollars for MDG-related projects by the next TICAD follow-up meeting.
It is noteworthy that the United Nations will hold the MDG Summit next month. Japan intends to strengthen its efforts in addressing issues centring on health and education in cooperation with other donor countries.
(4) Cooperation in the Field of Peace and Security
Thirdly, let me touch upon cooperation in the field of peace and security. It is undeniable that the achievement of peace and stability is a precondition of Africa's development and growth. Generally speaking, the overall conflict situation in Africa has eased since the 1990s, but political unrest still remains, as seen in the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia as well as the unconstitutional changes of governments in Madagascar, Guinea and Niger.
Taking into account such circumstances, Japan is enhancing its efforts to promote peace and security in Africa. Recently, I myself visited Sudan and held talks with political leaders there. At these meetings, I drew their attention to the importance of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the north-south dialogue on post-CPA issues, which will arise after the expiration of the peace agreement period. In this respect, Japan decided to provide assistance worth eight million US dollars, approximately seven hundred seventy million yen, for a referendum in southern Sudan, which testifies to Japan's strong commitment to peace and stability in Africa.
In order to consolidate peace in the continent, Africa must acquire the capacity to prevent and solve conflicts on its own. In this regard, it is pleasing to note that the AU is taking the initiative in peace efforts such as through the dispatch of the AU mission to Somalia and the AU-UN joint mission to Darfur in Sudan. Taking such trends in consideration, Japan will support Africa's own endeavours and capacity building through assistance to PKO training centres in some African countries, including Egypt and Ghana.
Meanwhile, promoting the democratic process along with the consolidation of peace is also important. Japan will provide the utmost support for presidential and parliamentary elections in African nations as significant steps towards the further enhancement of democracy.
Yesterday Japan and the AU released the 'Joint Communiqué regarding the Reinforcement of the Cooperative Relationship between Japan and the African Union' as a result of the talks between Mr Katsuya Okada, Japan's Foreign Minister, and His Excellency Mr Jean Ping. Japan strongly hopes to foster a solid partnership with the AU as well as with each African country, so that we can support each other in various areas.
In today's symposium, we are honoured by the presence of distinguished political leaders including Mr Jean Ping and experts both from Japan and abroad. To sum up, may I express my sincere hope that the symposium will provide an opportunity for a productive exchange of opinions on the future of Africa, which is at a crossroads in its history, as well as on the direction of Japan-Africa relations. Thank you.
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