Statement by Mr. Yasuaki Nogawa, Deputy Director-General, Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, For the Third Asia Africa Forum
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 23, 2000
Distinguished representatives of African and Asian countries and international organizations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to express my profound appreciation to His Excellency Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir and the Government of Malaysia for hosting this Forum. I would also like to express my appreciation to all the co-organizers, UNDP Malaysia office and TICAD Special Unit in particular, for their unstinting efforts for the preparation of the Forum.
In the midst of the rapid globalization, the world has experienced greatly accelerated trade and investment, as well as with the development of information and communication technologies. On the other hand, however, the negative side of globalization has become more and more distinct.
Asian economic crisis in 1997 was an example of the difficulties derived from globalization. The Asian experience could be taken as a lesson to cope with problems of globalization.
Now, turning to Africa, we find some positive trends in African countries, but the vast majority of people in the Continent are still forced to live in poverty. Moreover, the African countries face daunting problems such as external debt, HIV/AIDS, political instability and armed conflicts.
Against the backdrop of such situation, my delegation strongly believes, that South-South cooperation, especially Asia-Africa cooperation, has a significant meaning. Throughout the TICAD Process since 1993, the importance of Asia Africa cooperation has been emphasized, along with sub-regional approach and private sector development, all of which contribute to improving the African economy, and thus lead to the integration of Africa into the global economy.
Moreover, I should like to emphasize that Asia-Africa cooperation is not a one-way traffic. Certainly, African countries can benefit from leaning Asian experience and make the best use of it in their own development. But at the same time, new potential of Africa should be exploited by the joint work of Asian and African countries. In this sense, it is a two-way interaction.
Fortunately, we have seen encouraging developments in Asia-Africa cooperation in recent years in various areas. One example is Malaysia. Malaysia has implemented a variety of excellent human capacity development programs for other developing countries including Africa, which deserve high recognition by the international community. Other Asian countries are also engaged in their respective Asia Africa programs. And on the part of Africa, for example, the Growth triangle of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique is now looking into Asia.
Japan welcomes all these positive developments between the two regions, and believes that it is increasingly important to link these efforts each other, and seek for the possibility of a further step together.
In this Forum, we are discussing Asia-Africa cooperation in the two key sectors of agricultural development and private sector development, with two cross-cutting themes of capacity development and the integrating information and communication technology. Human capacity development is the foundation of nation-building, and strengthening institutions is critical to realize the full potential of each person and thus contributes to the development of the nation. And the recent development of information and communication technologies, if appropriately introduced, can dramatically enhance the capacity of institutions and raise individual productivity. Bearing this in mind and expecting intensive discussion in each session in the Forum, Japan would like to make announcement on the following three proposals. We hope that these proposals will facilitate our discussion and lead to concrete actions after this meeting.
First, Japan intends to help the United Nations develop a program for human capacity development and sharing experience. This program shall be called TICAD UN Volunteers. Already, the United Nations Volunteers has continuously dispatched personnel. We believe that such system could be a useful tool to promote sharing experience among Asia and Africa, and decided to assist the UN form a program to send Asian experts to Africa through UNV. This program will be in a range of US$1.2 million for the first year.
Second is the Asia-Africa Network Initiative. We should bear in mind that the essence of the so-called "IT revolution" is "being connected." Although the necessity of formulating a network was proposed at the time of AAF I in 1994, it has yet to be realized. But if such network is in place, we could interrelate individual cooperation projects being separately undertaken, and could build more efficient and more effective relations between them. As a first step of "being connected," therefore, Japan proposes to develop a database of various institutions as well as their activities and experts there in relation to Asia-Africa cooperation on the TICAD Homepage which will be launched as an Internet website. In the longer term, we envisage extending this initiative to concrete activities with a view to act as an intermediary between relevant institutions, facilitating, for example, twinning among those institutions. Cooperation coordination with existing networks among various research institutions will be sought under this initiative, so that we will be able to maximize the benefit of efforts for networking, which leads to a creation of an effective "web."
Third is a project to promote information and communication technology in Africa in the context of Asia-Africa cooperation. The key factors for the development of Africa's information and communication technology will be human resource development, technology transfer, infrastructure, policy advice, and coordination with the private sector. In this context, Japan believes that the initiative already taken by UNDP in Asia-Pacific, the APDIP, will be able to contribute to the facilitation of information and communication technology in Africa, and intends to support the UNDP to form a project of US$1.5 million this year. The project may be named "e-Africa". We are very eager to hear the opinions of the participants here on this subject and on other ways to help Africa promote information and communication technology.
Japan will spare no efforts in promoting Asia-Africa cooperation, to create mutually beneficial relationship between the two regions. People of the regions would be able to enjoy the fruits of such cooperation in today's world of globalized economy. But to achieve these goals, the both regions have to join forces ever more, and face squarely to the challenges of our times. Asia and Africa are to cooperate each other, then we can make the Continent with hope and make the 21st century the African Century. Let us work together to realize this.
Thank you very much.
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