Diplomatic Bluebook 2020

Chapter 2

Japan's Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map

Section 7 Africa

1 Overview

Africa, with a population of over 1.3 billion in 54 countries, has attracted the interest of the international community, owing to its high potential and rich natural resources. Africa has been influential on multilateral frameworks such as the United Nations. Progress has been made on Africa's own efforts toward economic growth, including the entry into force of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA1) in May. Furthermore, as symbolized by the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy, African-led conflict resolution efforts to stabilize the region are in progress.

On the other hand, in addition to conventional existing challenges, such as political instability, serious disparities and poverty, vulnerable health systems, and high unemployment especially among the youth, terrorism and violent extremism continues to be active on the continent. At the same time, new issues have emerged in some countries, such as worsening fiscal situations due to an increase in public debt. Overcoming these challenges is important not only for Africa, but for the peace and prosperity of the international community as a whole.

In 1993, Japan started the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), under the principles of Africa's ownership (self-help efforts) and international partnership (cooperation), and has been supporting efforts by Africa.

At TICAD7, held in Yokohama in August, discussions on the development of Africa were held under the three pillars of Economy, Society, and Peace and Stability, with the participation of 53 African countries, including 42 leaders, as well as development partner countries, international organizations, and civil society. In particular, business promotion was the main focus of discussion at TICAD7 (see the Opening Special Feature on page 6 and the Special Feature on page 160).

In the first pillar, Economy, it was confirmed that active private sector involvement, improving connectivity through quality infrastructure investment, human resource development, industry diversification including promotion of the blue economy,2 and sound fiscal management including debt transparency and sustainability are the keys to sustainable economic growth in Africa.

In the second pillar, Society, with the aim of moving toward an ever more sustainable and resilient society, there were discussions on the importance of health including the promotion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Science and Technology Innovation (STI), the environment and disaster prevention, climate change, human resource development and education, and empowering women and youth.

In the third pillar, Peace and Stability, it was confirmed that African-led efforts are progressing in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel region. In addition to that, discussions were held on the need for support from the international community to push the African efforts forward, and it was acknowledged that there is a need for further development, and boosting peace and security in the Sahel and other regions.

On the occasion of TICAD7, Japan announced “TICAD7: Japan's contributions for Africa,” declaring that Japan will (1) Promote Japanese private investment and innovation and support economic transformation that is taking off in Africa while contributing to the improvement of the business environment in Africa to achieve over 20 billion US dollars in private investment (Economy), (2) Contribute to building a resilient and sustainable society including in the health field to realize human security and SDGs, which are foundations of the betterment of livelihood and economic growth (Society), and (3) Implement the New Approach for Peace and Stability in Africa (NAPSA)3 that supports the African Union (AU) and other organizations-led mediation and dispute resolution efforts and institution building to support Africa's forward-looking initiatives (Peace and Stability), which are the preconditions for economic growth, investment, as well as the betterment of livelihood, and also provides support in a proper way to Japan, particularly long-term human resource development.

Furthermore, at the G20 Aichi-Nagoya Foreign Ministers' Meeting chaired by Foreign Minister Motegi, African development was taken up as one of the urgent issues facing the international community, and, based on the outcome of TICAD7, discussions were held on the need to support Africa's own efforts as the international community. Participating countries expressed high appreciation for TICAD7 and pointed out that it is important for the international community, including the G20, to work closely with regards to African development. In addition, G20 members confirmed that the G20 must play a leading role for the steady promotion and establishment of the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.

Outside of Japan, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakatani Shinichi attended the 6th Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, held in Dakar (Senegal) in November, and the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development held in Aswan (Egypt) in December. In both fora, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Nakatani explained discussions and achievements at TICAD7 and pointed out Japan's concrete efforts, including NAPSA, toward peace and stability in Africa.

  • 1 Signed by African countries in March 2018 at the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Kigali, Rwanda. Officially entered into force on May 30, 2019, establishing large-scale FTA in Africa with a population of over 1.3 billion people and a GDP of 2.5 trillion US dollars.
  • 2 Concept to promote sustainable growth by utilizing marine resources.
  • 3 A new approach proposed by Prime Minister Abe in August at TICAD7, held in Yokohama City. With respect to African ownership and the idea of addressing the root causes of conflict and terrorism, it proposes (1) African-led initiatives such as conflict prevention, mediation and intervention by the AU, regional economic communities (RECs) and others, (2) institution building and strengthening of governance, and (3) support for preventing youth radicalization and resilience of local communities.

Japan Business Council for Africa (JBCA)

First meeting of the Japan Business Council for Africa (June 6, Tokyo)First meeting of the Japan Business Council for Africa (June 6, Tokyo)

Known as the largest frontier in the 21st century, Africa is considered to be a continent of future growth with high latent potential due to its rapid economic and population growth, and new products and services in Africa are being created one after another using innovative technologies. Expanding business relationships with African countries is considered to be a key to Japan's future growth as well, and, in fact, Western and Asian countries are rapidly entering the African market.

Against this background, in order to promote business relations including trade and investment between Japan and Africa, the Japan Business Council for Africa (JBCA) was established on June 6 as a permanent platform for Japanese companies, ministries and agencies, and government-related organizations to regularly share information about Africa and exchange opinions on business in Africa.

Establishment of the JBCA was recommended in the “Recommendations by the Japanese Private Sector.” These recommendations were adopted in March at the “TICAD7 Public-Private Roundtable Meeting,” which was established to discuss measures to promote the expansion of Japanese companies to Africa, based on changes in the business environment since TICAD VI and the progress of the international community's efforts ahead of TICAD7 (August). They recommended that the various existing public-private partnership frameworks outline the cooperation and collaboration needed to support Japanese companies considering an expansion to Africa. As for concrete activities, the JBCA listens to organizations and private companies to collect proposals and priority issues for business development in Africa, and, based on this feedback, relevant ministries and governmental agencies will consider and implement the strengthening or addition of support policies.

Based on requests from Japanese private companies and the African side, business promotion was the main focus of discussion at TICAD7, which considers fast-growing Africa as a partner for mutual growth. The third plenary session in particular, “Public-Private Business Dialogue,” was a milestone as, for the first time in TICAD history, private companies from Japan and Africa participated as official partners. The JBCA actively participated in the discussions, and sector-specific working groups (infrastructure, healthcare, agriculture, and support for SMEs/startups), established under the JBCA, and announced specific efforts in each sector and proposals to the African side. In response to this, participants from the African side expressed their strong expectations for partnerships with Japanese private companies.

Additionally, the “Recommendations by the Japanese Private Sector” also suggested that a “Committee on the Improvement of the Business Environment” be established as a place for the public and private sectors of Japan and African countries to continuously discuss issues and consider specific solutions in order to solve the various problems facing private companies operating in Africa. Taking advantage of TICAD7, the Government of Japan agreed to set up the Bilateral Committee on the Improvement of the Business Environment with seven African countries (Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa). In response to this, the JBCA also established its own “Business Environment Improvement Working Group” and is following up on the state of the business environment in African countries, including the seven aforementioned countries.

The Government of Japan is working to strengthen business relations between Japan and Africa for the next conference, TICAD8, by using its various policy tools to fully support the JBCA's activities as “all-Japan” efforts.