Opening Remarks by Mr. Yasuhide Nakayama,
Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan
"Fourth Annual Meeting of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa"

March 13, 2008

Distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be able to address you this morning on behalf of the Government of Japan at the outset of the Fourth Annual Meeting of the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa. Let me begin my remarks by extending my heartfelt welcome to all the participants who have gathered here from relevant countries and institutions, including the African Union (AU), the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), and Africa's Regional Economic Communities, as well as the G8 countries, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, and the European Union, among others.

As you are well aware of, Japan will host the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD IV, in Yokohama this year from May 28th to 30th. I myself visited Ethiopia from late January to early February this year to attend the African Union's Tenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. Then, I visited Morocco and Niger as Special Envoy for Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and had the honor of inviting the Moroccan and Nigerien leaders at their respective capitals to participate in TICAD IV.

To encourage the positive trends witnessed in Africa both politically and economically, TICAD IV will take up under its basic theme "Towards a Vibrant Africa" the topics of, firstly, boosting economic growth, secondly, ensuring human security, and, thirdly, addressing environmental issues and climate change issues, while mobilizing the collective knowledge and the resources of the international community.

To boost economic growth in Africa and realize this "Vibrant Africa," it is indispensable to develop infrastructure networks that lay the foundation for developing industry and promoting trade and investment. In order to develop infrastructure networks, it is important for Africa to accelerate the formulation of a medium- to long-term infrastructure development plan and for the donors to ensure the development of a region-wide infrastructure in a consistent and comprehensive manner. The development of a region-wide infrastructure will also contribute significantly to African regional integration.

On the other hand, infrastructure development in Africa will be meaningless if they are destroyed because of conflicts. In addition, we must notice conflicts themselves will prevent us from building infrastructures. So, it is important not only to discuss how we will develop region-wide infrastructures in this meeting, but also to make efforts to remove impediments to infrastructure development, such as conflicts.

Prime Minister Fukuda stated during his address at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January that "In cooperation with the countries of Africa and the international community, Japan intends to put forth a blueprint for region-wide infrastructure development, including for example a road network and electricity grids, with a view to creating an appealing environment that will attract private investment." Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura had also highlighted this same point during the policy speech he delivered in Tanzania at the beginning of January.

The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa that emerged through the G8 process is becoming recognized as the leading platform for discussing the development of infrastructure in Africa. It will be extremely beneficial for us to make use of the ICA to look resolutely forward in drafting a blueprint for the development of region-wide infrastructure in Africa and forging cooperation among donors towards TICAD IV, exactly as Prime Minister Fukuda and Foreign Minister Koumura have stated.

During its sessions, the Annual Meeting of the ICA will take up discussions on various types of infrastructure, such as power networks, roads, and water resources management, approaching these issues from a wide range of perspectives, including financing and public-private partnerships. As the host country, Japan will be leading the discussions in Session 7. During that session, we would like to see discussions taking place on concrete ways of cooperation as we focus on the creation of a road network and electricity grids as region-wide infrastructure. I very much hope for an active exchange of views in each session of this Meeting.

This evening I will be hosting a reception at the Iikura House and I look forward to hearing from you on the outcome of today's discussions.

In closing let me express my sincere wishes that today's discussions will be fruitful leading to the discussions at TICAD IV in May and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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