THE BLOG
11/03/2015 09:22 GMT | Updated 10/05/2015 06:59 BST

Reviving the role of Japan in Africa's Development

Japan has always been notable for the importance it has given to 'Africa's ownership' of its own development as well as the 'partnership' between Africa and the international community. A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time in Kampala, Uganda reviving the role of Japan in Africa's development through a forum started back in 1993 called The Tokyo International Conferences on African Development (TICAD).

A central feature of TICAD is the cooperation between Asia and Africa. But since its inception, the geopolitical landscape in which TICAD operates has changed significantly. A top down, donor recipient approach dominated the development paradigm back then. This arrangement has changed significantly as the world has become multipolar. Africa has since emerged a powerhouse in global politics in contrast to a passive aid recipient that Africa was back then.

Mutually beneficial

The opportunities that TICAD now presents; first to Africa's development; and secondly, to the relationship between Africa and Japan are different. Today, TICAD's added value will have to be based on the Post 2015 development agenda which focuses on eradicating poverty and delivering sustainable development. A major shift here is that this contribution will have to be universal i.e. applying not just to Africa but also to Japan in equal measure. This does not mean that we have a one size fit all agenda but simply put; a transformation is both in Japan and in Benin for the people of Japan and the people of Benin to enjoy a life free from poverty in a sustainable environment. It is in the self-interest of Japan and it is in the self-interest of Africa that we all collectively play our part to keep the climate change below the 2 degree limit.

Why now?

While TICAD presents Africa with a powerful instrumental instrument for mobilizing the Means of Implementing the Sustainable development goals, those of us in Africa with an interest in this cannot afford to sit back and wait for the agenda to be agreed.

The inter-governmental negotiations for a post 2015 development agenda have entered the home stretch. Issues are now on the table. Cracks have emerged and they are being negotiated. Text is now moving fast from a grey to a clear black and white.

Simultaneously, the Financing for Development process is als ongoing. The draft elements paper has been developed and preparations for a summit in Addis Ababa are underway. Policy coherence between the various strands of development discourses is something that the UN has set an eye on. TICAD will not be an exception; it will need to be fine-tuned with what is happening elsewhere if we are going to jointly deliver development and sustainability.

Next Steps

The Kampala meeting brought together African and Japanese civil society to strategize on joint advocacy work around TICAD VI (The 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development), which is scheduled to be held in Africa in 2016.

TICAD VI, will create an important momentum for the implementation of Post-2015 development agenda (SDGs), because it is one of the first international conferences directly focusing on Africa's development after the approval of Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Climate Change Conference of Parties number 21 in Paris December 2015-(COP 21). The outcome document of TICAD will be delivered to the G7 held in Japan just afterwards so it is directly related to the creation of the momentum to implement the new global development goals.

I am confident that by getting together in Kampala now we in civil society helped to add some urgency to the process that will hopefully pay off later this year.